Thursday, 26 February 2009

'What's happening' event at Barwick in Elmet

Residents in Barwick in Elmet, Scholes and Aberford are being given the chance to attend a drop-in session to meet the people that provide services in their area.

The ‘What’s happening where you live’ event, organised by the East North East Area Committee, will give residents the opportunity to help shape the future of their neighbourhoods and find out what’s planned in their local area for 2009-10.

The event will take place on Monday, 2 March, 5 – 7pm at Barwick in Elmet Village Hall. Services attending include the Neighbourhood Policing Team, area management, youth services, extended services, libraries and planning. Local councillors and parish councillors will also be attending. Free refreshments will be available.

Two further events are planned for April in Thorner and Collingham.

Councillor Gerald Wilkinson, chair of the outer north east area committee said:
“Events like this are an important way for us to communicate with local people about the plans that we are putting in place for the forthcoming year.

“The area committee has an annual budget and the views that have been collected from local residents in the past help us to shape the way that services are delivered in the future.”

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member responsible for neighbourhoods, said:
“The area committees across the city are in place to represent the views and opinions of the communities they serve, so it is essential that residents are given the chance to find out what is planned for the coming year.

“I hope that local people will take this opportunity to find out about the priorities that have been set as a result of what they have told us in the past.”

For further information please contact Sandra Fowler on 0113 214 5833.
ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

City centre improvements continue with refurbishment of Lands Lane



The transformation of the city centre will continue next month when work starts on the £1.3m refurbishment of Lands Lane.

Lands Lane is the latest street in Leeds city centre to be refurbished as part of the council’s ongoing improvement programme, aimed at revitalising the pedestrian area of the city centre. Work will start in mid-April and be completed in the autumn.

The project continues the work that the council is doing as part of the recently published ‘Leeds City Centre 2020’ prospectus. This has already seen the refurbishment of Albion Place, which followed improvements to Briggate, King Edward Street, mid Albion Street and Chancellor Court. Other work progressing as a result of the prospectus are the proposals for a city centre park and a concert arena.

Lands Lane, one of the most popular retail streets in the city, will benefit from new Yorkstone paving, new trees and high quality seating. The scheme includes the refurbishment of the lower part of Lands Lane outside WHSmith, which represents an exciting opportunity to make the most of one of the city centre’s open spaces. The area will be given a ‘plaza’ feel, focusing on making the space feel as large as possible. Granite seating will provide shoppers with somewhere to sit.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader and executive member for the development of the city centre said:
“These are testing times for the city centre, but we are committed to continuing our investment in the area by improving our public spaces. The next phase of improvements, particularly those to lower Lands Lane, will see a dramatic transformation of this key area of open space.

“Leeds city centre generates £1.2 billion in retail sales each year. It is vitally important to the economic success of the city that the public realm is improved.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Financial belt tightened as £20m savings found

The cost of running Leeds City Council will be £20.3 million less in the next financial year after a fresh round of savings were identified.

The extra efficiencies mean the council will have saved around £100m over a five year period, making it one of the most cost effective authorities in the country.

It also means council tax bills will only rise by 2.9 per cent in the coming year.

Each of the council’s directorates has been asked to reassess its spending plans as part of the process to set the budget for 2009/10 which was formally agreed this afternoon.

Across the whole of the authority around £6m will be saved from support and administration functions including: £1.5m by improving the way goods and services are bought; £700,000 through the better use of technology; £600,000 by reducing the amount spent on energy; £1.5m through a reduction in staff sickness and £1.5m from a review of staff travel and parking arrangements.

In the environment and neighbourhoods directorate, £450,000 will be saved through a review of the department’s administration and ‘back office’ functions. Elsewhere, an improved housing advice and prevention service will mean savings of £200,000; another £200,000 will go by cutting senior management posts and £650,000 will be cut from the budget as a result of a review of procurement processes.

In children’s services a similar procurement review will save £300,000 and £1m will go from the support functions bill.

In adult social care, savings of more than £3.3m have been identified through changing the way the service is run, cutting management posts and reducing the amount of money spent on agency staff. Another £500,000 will be saved by changing staff travel arrangements.

£720,000 will be shaved from the cost of running the city development directorate, through, among other things, reviewing travel arrangements and changing mobile phone contracts. Improving the efficiency of street lights will save an additional £100,000 and reducing highways insurance claims will see bills drop by £400,000.

Cllr Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member for finance said:

“The fact that we’ve been able to find an additional £20m worth of savings proves once again that we’re doing everything we can to make the council more efficient.

Not only does this mean we’re delivering more value for money and keeping council tax increases as low as possible, it means less cash is going on admin and more on frontline services which is exactly as it should be.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 395 0393
email: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk

£925M investment planned despite economic downturn

Plans to invest £925.7 million in Leeds over the next five years have been agreed - despite the current state of the economy.

The spending – agreed at a meeting of full council this afternoon - includes an extra £2m for road maintenance in order to speed up repair works across Leeds. The money, on top of a planned £11m this year and a further £28.6m in 2010, will also help to provide additional work to the construction industry.

Alongside this, £1.4m will be provided, from 2009/10 up to 2012, to fund several traffic management schemes. These projects will reduce congestion, provide safer conditions on the city’s roads and improve access for people and goods. These improvements will be achieved by minor alterations to the road network.

Leeds City Council also continues to support the proposed refurbishment of the City Varieties theatre with a proposed contribution of £11.4m. Funding for the scheme also includes £2.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1.2m from Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd.

In response to the economic downturn an extra £600,000 will be pumped into the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, a facility designed to help create new job opportunities in the city’s most deprived areas. The overall funding will now be £6.6m, boosted by an additional £3m between now and 2011.

Elsewhere, an extra £1.2m will be made available to the city centre upgrade programme, bringing the total funding to £6.5m, including £300,000 of external contributions.

An increase in spending to £7m will be allocated to the disabled facilities grant programme; nearly £4m for more affordable housing; £24m to improve IT facilities in schools; £2.1m to transform day care facilities for people with learning disabilities and money will be put towards a £5m project for a youth ‘hub’ in south Leeds.

One of the biggest items in the capital programme is the new Leeds arena with a total of £84m having been put aside for the new facility. The 12,500 seat venue will open in 2012 bringing numerous benefits to the economy of Leeds and the wider region.

Cllr Brett, joint leader and executive board member for finance, said:

“Despite the economic situation we are determined to make sure that Leeds continues to receive the investment it deserves.

We are making money available for hundreds of projects which will bring benefits to our residents right across our city.

The capital programme this year means the council will have to borrow an additional £45m – but I believe this is the right thing to do in the circumstances and to ensure we continue to improve Leeds and make it a better place to work, live and play.”


ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 395 0393
email: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk