Thursday, 30 April 2009

Green shoots as Chelsea garden starts to take shape

Caption: The team prepare to start work on site

Caption: Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter (front) is joined by Patrick Hennighan (left) and Kevin Hardy (right) of sponsors HESCO Bastion at the roundabout sign and flowerbed which have been put in place to promote the garden next to Leeds Rail Station.

Date: 30th April 2009

Work has officially started this week on creating the show garden which will represent Leeds at next month’s prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Staff from Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside Service arrived on site on Wednesday to transform a piece of land in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London into The HESCO Garden which will compete against the finest designs in the world when the show takes place from May 19-23.

Over the next three weeks the garden will be marked out and carefully created using excavation, the construction of walls, a building and patio area put in place, pond and water features installed and intensive planting of trees and plant material to have the garden looking complete and at its best for Monday 18th May when it is judged and may be visited by Her Majesty The Queen.

Anyone interested in following the development of the garden can follow its progress by going to the website at where the latest photos and information will be added each day.

The HESCO Garden has been designed and produced by Leeds City Council staff with support and sponsorship from world-renowned manufacturers of products used in civil engineering HESCO Bastion, who themselves are based in Leeds.

The theme of this year’s garden is to raise awareness of the problem of flash flooding, which caused major problems all over the UK in the summer of 2007, and how people can make small changes in their own gardens to help limit the effects of climate change.

The HESCO Garden is inspired by rain gardens which are popular in America as a way of holding water and releasing it slowly to limit flash flooding. Modelled on a typical Yorkshire garden, the garden draws on a number of different techniques and uses locally-sourced materials combined with plants which flourish in wet conditions.

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

“It is really exciting that work is now starting on site at Chelsea to create this fantastic garden. It will be wonderful to see the plans come to life and we have every confidence the team will do their usual great job in producing a world-class garden which will be a big hit with everyone at the show and help raise awareness of the environmental message behind the garden and promote Leeds as a city.”

As part of the promotion of this year’s garden project, an extra dash of colour has been added to one of the most famous landmarks in Leeds city centre as a special arrangement of Native Cowslip flowers has been planted in the roundabout behind Leeds Rail Station with accompanying signs to tell those arriving and departing the city about The HESCO Garden.

Apart from the roundabout display, seed packets of Native Cowslip are to be given to local Leeds schools and will also be distributed to the crowds at Chelsea itself. The Native Cowslip (Primula veris) was chosen because it is a plant commonly found in Yorkshire on the fringes of woodland and meadows in spring and it will also be seen in the show garden at the show.

Sponsors HESCO Bastion Ltd said:

“Our products are used worldwide to provide planned and sustainable flood protection, so we were pleased to be asked by Leeds City Council's Parks and Countryside Service to be the sponsor of The HESCO garden at Chelsea this year. The HESCO Garden is designed to raise awareness of how we can all contribute to managing rainwater better, and by doing so help reduce flooding risks.

“The roundabout idea is a really effective way of catching people’s attention and helping to generate interest in this year’s garden. Raising awareness of flash flooding and the things we can all do to help reduce the problem is the key aim, and it is great to be able to do that in a prime city centre location which thousands of people will see as they go past.”

Leeds City Council has enjoyed great success at Chelsea in recent years, with all six previous gardens dating back to the first in 1997 earning bronze or silver awards.

For full details and the latest news about The HESCO Garden visit the official website at

Notes to editors:

The extreme summer floods of 2007 left 55,000 homes and businesses in the UK flooded and insurance claims of almost £3 billion

From Environment Agency figures, approximately 550,000 people live in areas at risk of flooding in the Yorkshire and Humber region.


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

Doing business in Bulgaria

New business opportunities in Bulgaria for local companies will be on the agenda next month at a seminar in Leeds.

The Central and Eastern Europe Business Network (CEBN) are promoting business in Bulgaria through a networking event taking place on Monday, 11 May at the offices of DLA Piper UK LLP, Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4BY.

Experts on business opportunities in Bulgaria will be present at this informative seminar. Plamen Dimitrov, Minister Plenipotentiary, head of commercial and economic office from the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria will be the keynote speaker and will provide an overview of the major cities in Bulgaria, and discuss opportunities for companies looking to sell and buy products and services, what the investment opportunities are, and how the Bulgarian government may be able to help UK companies establish links with the region.

Brian Sainsbury, managing director of PDA International will also give a speech about the cultural differences in business practices between the UK and Bulgaria, with tips on how to do business with Bulgarian enterprises. PDA International is a management consultancy and training services provider.

Bulgaria has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. The country became a member of the European Union (EU) in 2007, and although it continues to rank as the second-poorest EU member state, the World Bank classifies it as an "upper-middle-income economy", with standards of living rising.

The CEBN is a partnership between Leeds City Council, Alfran UK, PDA International and DLA Piper. It is designed to help businesses from the region trade and invest in central and eastern Europe. Launched last year, the network has already held events promoting business in Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Russia, the Baltics and Ukraine.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive member for corporate services said:
“Bulgaria has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, with good potential for more in the future.

“The aim of this event is to help businesses in Leeds to secure new opportunities, and to encourage mutual benefits to both areas through increased trade.”

This free event will take place on Monday, 11 May, 11.45-14.15, at the offices of DLA Piper UK LLP, Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4BY. Refreshments and a networking lunch will be provided.

To reserve a place please email or call 0113 247 4740.


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

Live in Beeston? Have a say about your neighbourhood.

The people of Beeston are to get a chance to have their say on the future of their neighbourhood.

On Saturday 9th May, people from the Beeston area are being invited along to the council's Inner South Area Committees ‘Have Your Say’ event taking place at Beeston Village Community Centre (the former Beeston Library) next to Hugh Gaitskell Primary School between 12 and 2pm.

The idea of the event is to give residents an opportunity to influence local decision making and ensure their views are fed directly into the shaping of services that effect their area. Views gathered from people at the event will help the development of the Area Committee’s action plan for the coming year, which forms part of the 2008-2011 Area Delivery Plan.

There’ll be something for all ages happening including five-a-side football, free beauty treatments provided by Lush, face painting, free prize draws, and music from LeedselevenFM, as well as an opportunity to meet local ward councillors.

Along with Leeds City Council's South East Area Management, who have organised the event, a wide range of organisations will be there on the day including: West Yorkshire Police, Fire Service, Aire Valley Homes, Beeston in Bloom, Groundwork, St Luke’s Care’s and many more.

Councillor Angela Gabriel, chair of the Inner South Area Committee said:
“Events like these are a great opportunity for local people to have their say about what they want to see happening in their area. This is the one in a series of six events the Inner South Area Committee have agreed to hold, to speak to local people and find out what we should be doing as part of our action plan.”

For further details about the event, get in touch with South East Area Management on 0113 2243040.

Notes for editors
About Area Management:
Leeds City Council has three area management teams – each covering a defined part of the city – which help to manage the council's work across this large and diverse area. Their main role is supporting Area Committees, which make sure the planning and delivery of council services responds to the needs of local communities. Area Committees also have direct responsibility for local budgets, for some services including community centres and wardens, and for the council's community consultation and involvement work. The Area Management teams also co-ordinate the council's partnerships with the police, health, employment, housing and other services in their areas and support the council's regeneration programmes.

The Inner South Area Committee covers Middleton Park, Beeston and Holbeck, and City and Hunslet wards. The Outer South Area Committee covers Morley North, Morley South, Ardsley and Robin Hood, and Rothwell wards.

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

Swimming legend tops the bill at Sport Leeds event

Former Olympian Duncan Goodhew MBE will headline this year’s Sport Leeds seminar on 20 May.

Now in its sixth year, ‘Taking the lead: inspiration, participation, performance’ will look at the sports opportunities in Leeds from grass roots involvement through to professional level.

David Heddon, chair of Sport Leeds, said:
“The seminar has become a hugely popular event aimed at anyone involved with sport and active recreation in Leeds and the wider region. Whether you are a participant, coach, volunteer, official, administrator or professional the seminar will provide an exciting opportunity to hear first hand what is being achieved and what future challenges lie ahead”.

Duncan Goodhew will first visit the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport where he will give pass on tips and advice to both amateur and competitive swimmers. In the afternoon he will join four local primary schools, from South Leeds at a swimming festival.

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

What: Duncan Goodhew will be passing on top swimming hints and tips to pupils from four south Leeds primary schools
When: 20th May, 2pm to 3pm
Where: John Charles Centre for Sport, Middleton Grove, Leeds, LS11 5DJ

Duncan Goodhew added:
“I’m delighted to be in Leeds to promote sports opportunities in the city. It’s great to see the high profile sport now has in the city - from Leeds Metropolitan University’s success in becoming the UK Centre for Coaching Excellence, to the recent increases in activity levels across the city - Sport Leeds has done much to raise the profile of sport and active recreation. The free swimming initiative, the sport development swim programme and the fantastic facilities at the John Charles Centre mean there’s no excuse to stay out of the water! “

Duncan will give the keynote speech at the seminar, which will be followed by a question and answer session with high-profile sports personalities from across the city of Leeds, including Jamie Jones Buchanan, from Leeds Rhinos. This session will be compered by John Boyd, ex-Radio Leeds presenter. The seminar also includes the opportunity to attend a number of workshops and sees the return of coaching master classes for aspiring coaches in athletics, badminton, rugby league, tennis and women’s football. These will provide the opportunity for delegates to learn from high-level national and international coaches, including Leeds Rhinos’ Brian McClennan.

The seminar takes place between 5pm and 9.30pm on Wednesday 20th May 2009 at Leeds Metropolitan University, Headingley campus. Places cost £10 to £12 per person. To book a place call or e-mail / 0113 3943393 or book direct through the website at

Notes for editors
Sport Leeds
is the strategic partnership for people and organisations with an interest in the provision and development of sport and active recreation in Leeds. Its aims are to promote sport and active recreation, share good practice and information and provide a basis for networking.

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

Next step towards parking strategy for Wetherby

Residents from Wetherby are invited to have their say as plans for a town centre parking strategy move forward.

Staff from Leeds City Council and Mouchel, the consultants for the strategy, will be on hand at two public involvement events to be held in Wetherby Town Hall on Thursday 7 May, 12 - 6pm and Saturday 9 May, 10am - 4pm to hear your views.

A comprehensive set of surveys were completed late last year, which have provided detailed information about parking in the town. This includes surveys of the car parks, on-street parking in the town centre and residential areas, as well as a questionnaire asking people in the town how they travel and whether they consider parking to be an important issue. Feedback on these findings is now needed so that plans for a parking strategy for the town can be developed.

Do you have issues with parking in the town? Maybe you live in the town centre and find it difficult to park your car near home? Maybe you visit the town to shop and have problems finding a car parking space? Maybe you don’t know what all the fuss is about, think that there is loads of parking and can always find a space?

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive member responsible for development said:
“Whatever your experiences of parking in Wetherby town centre, I would like to encourage as many local residents as possible to come along and discuss them with us at one of these public involvement events. It’s the best possible way to make sure that your views are heard.”

Leaflets inviting your comments are available from the library, the One Stop Centre, Horsefair Centre and the town hall in Wetherby. Information and feedback forms will also be available on the website at


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

Council continues to invest in its people

Leeds City Council has successfully retained its Investors in People (IiP) status, following a thorough revalidation process.

The IiP standard has changed since the council was last re-assessed in 2005, meaning that all 10 indicators had to be met to maintain recognition. Approximately 987 staff council wide, including Education Leeds, were interviewed as part of the yearlong process.

IiP assesses how an organisation improves its performance through investing in its staff. The review has judged the council against a set of national indicators and benchmarks, considered how the council plans and delivers its services, and how this is linked to staff development and training. It has also assessed how well managers within the council communicate priorities and support staff development.

The IiP process also includes an assessment of the council’s leadership and management abilities, and looks at the development and support given to middle and senior managers to improve their capacity and capability.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive member with responsibility for human resources said:
“Retaining our Investors in People status is something that we are immensely proud of, and is particularly rewarding when it includes an assessment of the leadership and management capabilities of our staff.

“The quality of services provided by the council is largely determined by the skills, knowledge and commitment of its staff. The rigorous assessment and benchmarks of the IiP framework recognises that our staff have the capacity and capability to provide high quality services to the residents of Leeds.”

Liz Sherwin, managing assessor for IiP, said:
“The IIP review was carried out by a committed team, who found a level of similar commitment at all levels within council employees.

“I was struck by the culture of continuous improvement found in all areas, and the dedication from staff in providing the Leeds community with the best possible service.”

Services and teams across the organisation will continue to identify how the council and its staff can continue to improve to further build on this success.


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

Girls strike a chord with guitar heroes

Young aspiring female guitarists from across Leeds will be learning from the experts next week at an ‘all girls guitar day’ being held at the West Park Centre.

Two eminent female guitarists and composers, who have made a name for themselves in this usually male dominated industry, will be encouraging the girls to continue learning the instrument.

ArtForms - Education Leeds’ music service, has invited 50 girls aged 11 and above who are learning to play the guitar at school, music centre or privately, to attend the event on Wednesday May 6th.

Rock and jazz guitarists Deirdre Cartwright and Alison Rayner will be helping the girls to perfect their skills and offering advice on how to make the most of their talents.

Media Opportunity:
Any representatives from the media who wish to attend please contact Emma Whittell at the press office on 0113 2474713.

Deirdre became famous as the guitar presenter of the BBC programme Rockschool in the 1980s and together, Deirdre, and bassist Alison, co-run the famous London Jazz club ‘Blow the Fuse’. They both also devised the guitar component of the country’s only exam system for rock music - also called Rockschool.

At the event students of all abilities will work together on musical pieces from a number of different genres – creative/ rock, classical and folk. Bass players will work towards their own particular piece, and on bass parts for the other sessions.

The girls will be grouped by experience – elementary, intermediate and advanced, to ensure all will have an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and learn from their contemporaries, as well as the experts.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive member responsible for Education Leeds, said:
“This is a great opportunity for these girls to learn from successful, professional female guitarists who will be able to inspire and motivate the girls to continue with their studies.”

Ruth Wild, Head of Strings and Guitars at Education Leeds ArtForms, said:
“The emphasis of this day is on having fun and we hope the girls enjoy it and better themselves on their instrument. There will be lots of specialist expertise on hand from within ArtForms, as well as from the professionals.”

Deirdre Cartwright is a guitarist and composer, and became well known as the guitar presenter of the groundbreaking BBC Television series Rockschool (1983). The second series of Rockschool attracted audiences of two million viewers every week in the UK and was subsequently shown worldwide.

In 1991 she formed her own band - The Deirdre Cartwright Group.

As a solo artist she has played with the American guitarist Tal Farlow, toured with Jamaican composer Marjorie Whylie, played throughout Europe, has seen the weekly jazz club she co-runs 'Blow The Fuse' become one of the most popular in London, and has been a regular presenter for BBC Radio 3.

Cartwright is also a guitarist and composer for the Rockschool music grades. She records most of the guitar tracks for the CDs that come with the Rockschool books.

Alison Rayner:
Alison Rayner grew up on a diet of 60's soul and rock music, played bass guitar and discovered jazz in the 70's. She toured the world in the 80's with the critically acclaimed jazz-latin group the Guest Stars, took up double bass in the 90's and formed her own jazz quartet.

She currently records and performs both in Britain and internationally with, amongst others, the Deirdre Cartwright Group, the Emma Peel Fan Club and the Vortex Foundation Big Band. She plays with many of the great musicians on the London jazz scene where she runs Blow the Fuse club with her musical cohort Deirdre Cartwright.

Her compositions are featured in the repertoire of the Deirdre Cartwright group, and the VFBB. She has also composed pieces for the Rockschool/Trinity graded exam series.

She lectures in music in London and on summer schools both here and abroad.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713