Thursday, 2 April 2009

Record success for Leeds museums and galleries

Caption: Leeds Art Gallery proving a big hit

Museums and galleries in Leeds proved to be the main attractions as they achieved record-breaking visitor figures during the February half-term.

Families and visitors flocked to council-managed heritage venues across the city during the week-long school break to smash the previous official year-on-year records.

Leeds Art Gallery proved to be a major hit, with art lovers keen to see the highly successful ‘Rank’ exhibition while families were also able to enjoy Artspace where people can create their own art. Another enticing factor was the drinks and treats on offer in the Tiled Hall CafĂ©.

The total visitor figure for the art gallery for the week was over 14,000, which compares very favourable with the 2008 figure of 10,400 and the figure of 7,700 achieved in 2006 before the major refurbishment of the building was carried out.

This success was repeated across all the council-managed sites, with Temple Newsam House seeing more visitors during half-term than in the whole month of February 2008. The same story could be seen at Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum, with the museum recording its best figures since it reopened in 2001.

A further boost came from the ongoing success of the opening of the new Leeds City Museum, which continues to attract huge visitor numbers and is now well beyond the 150,000-mark after just five months.

The rising popularity of council-managed museums and galleries in Leeds can also be seen in the overall yearly figures, with the total number of visitors across all sites at just under a million for the last 12 months, a major jump on the 525,000 for the previous year (the first time ever the figure had gone over half-a-million) and 384,000 for the financial year 2006/07.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are absolutely delighted with these fantastic half-term attendance figures and the continuing success story of our museums and galleries in Leeds.

“We were very keen to put on lots of family-orientated events in our venues over half-term and they were clearly very popular with many people taking advantage of our special family tickets.

“Along with the phenomenal success of the new Leeds City Museum these figures show that people want to come to our sites, so the challenge for us now is to continue to provide the best range of attractions and activities possible for everyone to enjoy.”

For further information, on Leeds Museums and Galleries, visit the website at

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Leeds Arena: Bulldozers move in to demolish Brunswick Building

The next major stage in the development of the Leeds Arena will begin next week when bulldozers move in to begin work on demolishing a former university building.

The 5-storey high Brunswick Building, formerly owned by Leeds Metropolitan University, will be pulled down to make way for construction of the arena on a 5.1acre site at Clay Pit Lane in Leeds city centre.

Photo/film opportunity
When: 2.30pm, Tuesday 7 April.

What: Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Andrew Carter on site and in an excavator - a 140tonne 974 Liebherr – marking the start of work to pull down the building. Also attending will be John Sutherland, managing director for SMG, the arena operator, and a representative from Yorkshire Forward. All will be available afterwards for interviews.

Where: Brunswick Building, access via Elmwood Road. Parking is available. Journalists will be required to wear hard hats and visibility jackets and stout shoes are recommended. Please call the press office on 0113 2243602 if you wish to reserve a parking space.

The demolition of the Brunswick Building is the next stage in the programme to build the Leeds Arena, which is planned to open in 2012. Work to demolish the building and clear the Claypit Lane site is expected to take around 18 weeks. Once the site has been cleared and levelled part will be used as a temporary public car park.

The arena will be a 12,500 seat venue able to accommodate a range of events and establish Leeds as a top class city for entertainment and sport. It is expected to create over 300 new jobs and bring in over £25m to the Leeds economy as visitors take part in other activities and spend money while they are in the city.

Notes to editors:
Leeds City Council acquired the Brunswick Building in November 2008. The council paid £6m for the 2.91 acre plot which makes up the whole 5.1 acre site for the arena development at Clay Pit Lane.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3602

Strengthening work to be carried out on culvert

Essential improvement work is due to start on the South Parkway Approach culvert later this month.

The work, due to begin on 20 April, will be carried out over a period of 12 weeks and will mean the structure will be closed to all vehicles for the duration of the works.

Traffic will be diverted via an alternative signed route, approximately four miles long. Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.

The improvement work is needed to strengthen the culvert and bring it back up to full traffic carrying capacity. This will involve excavation of the carriageway to the top of the structure, construction of a reinforced concrete slab on top of the existing culvert, waterproofing the new slab and then reinstating the carriageway to its existing level.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive board member for development said:
“We apologise for the inconvenience that will be caused to local residents, but these are essential repairs which we will complete as soon as possible.

“Our priority is the safety of motorists and pedestrians, and we ask everyone to bear with us while the work is carried out.”

South Parkway Approach Culvert is a short length of reinforced concrete box section constructed in 1956 which carries South Parkway Approach over Wyke Beck in Burmantofts. The culvert provides an important link between Seacroft to the east of Wyke Beck and Gipton to the west.

Following inspection and assessment of the culvert in 1997 it was concluded that the structure was unable to sustain full traffic loading. A weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes was subsequently imposed to safeguard the integrity of the culvert.

These strengthening works will restore the culvert to its full traffic carrying capacity.

Households close to the bridge will have received a letter from Leeds City Council regarding this work, but anyone wanting to find out more should contact Aaron Okorie on Leeds 247 6209.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Be a quality rider

Caption: (from left) Dylan Turner, Harvey Harding, Roger Stanley (instructor), Chris Glew, David Glanville

A new scheme to help motorcycle riders anticipate and avoid potentially harmful situations, and earn discounts on their insurance will be launched today.

Powered two wheeler riders usually come off worse in collisions but help is at hand with the Yorkshire Enhanced Rider Scheme.

The Quality Yorkshire Riders Partnership is offering a number of free places to riders who would be interested in taking part, giving them the chance to get advice from a qualified Driving Standards Agency (DSA) approved instructor. The instructor will observe participants’ riding and draw up personalised training plans to address any weaknesses highlighted. Riders completing the scheme will get a goody bag including a free Buff™ and visor sponge, and a certificate recognised by a number of leading insurers if no significant weaknesses are found.

******************** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY ********************

Date: Friday, 3 April, 9am
Venue: Ridesafe Motorcycle School, BMEP Broadstone Way, Bradford BD4 9BU
Event: Launch of the Yorkshire Enhanced Rider scheme.
Chris Glew, a local rider who is taking part in the Cannonball Run in Morrocco in June, will be at the launch to lend his support to the scheme and highlight the importance of safe riding. Chris is hoping to raise £15,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Staff and riders who have already completed the scheme will also be on hand for photographs and interviews.
******************** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY ********************

Initially the sessions will cover the Leeds and Bradford area, but if there is enough interest the scheme could be rolled out county-wide.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader and executive member for travel and transport said:
“Far too many motorcycle riders are killed or seriously injured on our roads each year. This training package can help to make sure that our riders have the skills to avoid potentially harmful situations. Regardless of who is at fault, powered two wheeler riders tend to come off worst in a crash, and reducing the number of rider casualties can only really come through reducing the number of crashes that happen in the first place. Better riding is a key element in achieving this.“

Chris Glew added:
“As a biker who covers thousands of miles in all weathers, I know that experience is vital. Riders need to be increasingly vigilant on the roads and this course can help them to develop better awareness and observation, leading to safer riding.”

Notes for editors

More information can be found at: pick up a leaflet from a local dealers or call Dave Glanville at Leeds City Council road safety unit on 0113 247 5804.

In 2008 there were 70 riders killed or seriously injured in Leeds. (Leeds City Council)

196 riders were killed or seriously injured across West Yorkshire in 2008. (Leeds City Council)

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Breaking new ground in fight to create affordable housing

Caption: (from left) Councillor Andrew Carter, Andy Gamble (Development Director, Accent Housing), Simon Hogg (Operations Manager, Lovell), John Hughes (Regeneration Manager, Lovell)

A pioneering partnership that aims to create hundreds of affordable homes in Leeds has broken new ground – literally – as work begins on the first site in the city.

Chaucer Gardens in Pudsey is to become the site of 16 new affordable homes – the first to be built under Leeds City Council’s innovative Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership.

The £1.5m Chaucer Gardens scheme, delivered in partnership with Accent Group and affordable housing developer Lovell, will see ten apartments and six bungalows built for either social rent or ‘Homebuy’. The scheme has been granted planning permission and work is due to begin any day, with a completion date of March 2010.

Aimed at housing older people, it is hoped that the scheme can also assist with the council’s bid to reduce under-occupation of council houses, encouraging older people to move from family-size council houses into the new development.

The Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership was set up in 2007 to deliver affordable housing solutions for the people of Leeds. Leeds City Council has supplied 88 acres of its own land on which to build affordable and council housing – the first new council homes in the city in 20 years – which is sold to housing associations to develop.

Chaucer Gardens is the first scheme to start under the partnership, with phase ones sites due to create a total of 180 new affordable homes, which includes the two other sites at Farrow Road in Armley and Glen Road in Morley. A further four sites are in the planning process and will commence on site throughout 2009.

This development is also benefiting Leeds in another way by ensuring that the development will use local labour and provide training opportunities when the scheme is going through its construction phase.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and chairman of the Affordable Housing Strategic Partnership, said:
“When we set up the Affordable Housing Strategic Partnership in 2007 this was exactly the kind of innovative scheme we were looking to develop. We are delivering quality housing at an affordable price to some of the more vulnerable people in our society. “It is particularly pleasing that we will also be using local labour to develop the scheme, not only delivering much needed affordable housing units but also providing training and employment to local people during very difficult economic times.”

Andy Gamble, Head of Residential Development for Accent Group, said:
“After 12 months hard work in the planning stage we are pleased to finally get the first phase of sites underway. This is an important initiative for Leeds and Accent is delighted to have been selected to deliver these much needed affordable homes. The remaining schemes will commence on site throughout 2009.”

Lovell regional director Noel Adams said:
“It’s great to be starting work on this important scheme which will deliver high-quality, energy-efficient new affordable housing for local people. In addition, we will be providing construction apprenticeships through the new housing programme as part of our commitment to creating job and training opportunities in the communities where we work.”

Notes for editors
• Chaucer Gardens is one of the sites included in the Phase 1 Affordable Housing Sites, within the remit of the Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership Board.
• Accent Group have secured grant from the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) and are proposing to develop the site for older person’s accommodation.
• The total scheme costs are in the region of £1.5m with a grant allocation of £700,000.
• As part of the tender documentation which was issued, a local labour and training initiatives clause was inserted. This will ensure that on this and the other sites within the Partnerships’ remit, local residents will get the opportunity to work on the development. Local residents will also be sponsored to undertake training scheme
• Homebuy is a scheme used to help people onto the housing ladder or in to home ownership they come in a variety of forms and are open to households earning less than £60,000 a year who would otherwise be unable to buy.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937