Wednesday, 13 May 2009

New home for The Largest Room in the House

Caption: The Largest Room in the House proved hugely popular with the crowds at Chelsea (image courtesy of Andy Paraskos)

The award-winning show garden which claimed silver at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show is to go on public display in its new permanent home this week.

The garden entitled ‘The Largest Room in the House’, created by Leeds City Council to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, has now been installed at Roundhay Park for the public to be able to see and enjoy for free.

The garden, designed and created by the council’s Parks and Countryside Service and sponsored by GMI Property Company Ltd, The Royal British Legion and Toc H, equalled Leeds’ best-ever result at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show by earning a Silver Gilt Flora award.

Known as ‘The Largest Room in the House’, the garden is a recreation of the grounds of Talbot House in Poperinghe, Belgium. Talbot House was a rest house, hostel and chapel which became a haven of peace and tranquillity for UK troops heading to and from the horrors of the frontline trenches nearby.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
Media are invited to the official opening of The Largest Room in the House, at Roundhay Park's Gardens of the World at 12 noon on Thursday 14th May. Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Andrew Carter and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Stan Hardy will be joined by other civic leaders, representatives of the Royal British Legion and other sponsors to mark the public unveiling of the garden.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

The garden features a replica of the Talbot House summerhouse as a focal point, with a heart-shaped path, pond and lawn leading from it. The textures, scents and colours of the plants were carefully chosen to give a sense of comfort, peace and serenity, while a blaze of red poppies planted at the centre of the garden completes the air of respectful remembrance.

The garden’s new permanent home is in the ‘Gardens of the world’ section of Roundhay Park off Princes Avenue, which begins with the ‘Monet Garden’ walkway opposite the car park of the Roundhay Fox pub. Beyond the Monet Garden is the ‘Alhambra Garden’, which the ‘Largest Room in the House’ is now positioned next to.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Andrew Carter said:

“The Largest Room in the House is a fantastic garden which was hugely popular at Chelsea and reflected superbly on Leeds and the important message of remembrance behind it.

“We are delighted that it has now been installed at Roundhay Park for everyone to see and enjoy, and I encourage as many people as possible to come and see it for themselves along with the other Gardens of the World, which in some ways are the best-kept secrets of the park.’

The opening of the Largest Room in the House is particularly timely as its successor, The HESCO Garden, will be up against the finest garden designs in the world at next week’s Chelsea Flower Show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London.

Designed and created by the council’s Parks and Countryside Service with support and sponsorship from world-renowned manufacturers of products used in civil engineering HESCO Bastion, the finishing touches are now being made to The HESCO Garden ahead of the event.

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.

A special webcam will be running on the garden throughout the show from May 14th, able to accessed through the website at The website also contains all the latest photos and information about the garden.

Notes to editors:
The Monet Garden in the Gardens of the World is based upon the gardens planted by the impressionist at Giverny in France, and was introduced to Roundhay Park in 1999. The gardens provide an elegant burst of colour and energy reflecting the French passion for life.

Adjoining this is the Alhambra Garden, which is based on one of the world’s most famous gardens, the 13th century garden at Alhambra, Spain. The garden echoes the Patio de la Acequia, Patio de la Sultana and Mirador of Partal Gardens including fountains and formal hedged gardens.


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

Are you a superstar in south Leeds?

Have you got what it takes? Can you stand the heat of the spotlight? Were you born to perform? If so, why not take centre stage this summer and battle it out for the chance to become the 2009 Junior Superstar!

Following the huge success of the competition over the past two years, Junior Superstar is back in the Inner South Leeds area and is open to anyone 11-years-old or under.

The competition promises to be bigger than ever with entries welcome from anyone who wants to perform their talent on a stage, whether its dancing, singing, acting, comedy, Bollywood dancing, beatbox, martial arts or something completely different. Solo performers or groups can come along to the open community auditions.

Auditions are taking place in some local primary schools throughout May and June, with three community auditions – open to all young people from the inner south Leeds area – taking place over the next month.

Once the auditions are complete, three semi-finals will take place at Beeston Festival on 13th June, Hunslet Festival on 27th June and Middleton Gala on 4th July. The Grand Final will take place at Holbeck Gala on 11th July. Junior Superstar acts will perform to a live audience but only three can be crowned winners.

Junior Superstar is part of the council’s Inner South Area Committee funded I Love South Leeds Festival. The festival is in it’s fourth year and promises to provide lots of fun activities for young people aged up to 19 to get involved with across the summer holidays. The Inner South Leeds area covers the Middleton Park, Beeston and Holbeck, and City and Hunslet council wards.

As well as Junior Superstar, music workshops including DJing, Opera and song writing will take place as part of Turn It Up! Plus there’s a chance to get active as part of South Leeds Olympics – tag rugby, dodgeball, football, dance and a fun run will all be happening across the area. All activities are free, so it’s advised that young people should sign up for the activities on the festival website as soon as possible.

Festival activities will take place within the communities of Cottingley, Beeston, Holbeck, Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton, at venues such as local community centres and schools, stadiums and parks. South East Area Management Team are overseeing the management of this year’s festival, with activities being run by The Cupboard Project DAZL, Hamara, The Hunslet Club, Joseph Priestley College, Leedseleven FM and St Luke’s Cares.

Community auditions will take place at the following venues:
Area: Beeston and Cottingley
When: Tuesday 19th May 2009
Time: 5pm until 8pm
Where: St Luke’s Church – Malvern Road

Area: Middleton and Belle Isle
When: Wednesday 3rd June 2009
Time: 5pm until 8pm
Where: Middleton St Mary’s – Maude Hall

Area: Hunslet and Holbeck
When: Tuesday 2nd June 2009
Time: 5pm until 8pm
Where: Hunslet Warriors (ARLFC)

Councillor Angela Gabriel, chair of Leeds City Council’s Inner South Area Committee, said:
“South Leeds is a great place to live and the festival has been designed to bring together young people from our area’s different communities and get them involved in a range of exciting activities.
“I hope that as many young people as possible take part in the Junior Superstar event and maybe we will uncover some talent of the future.”

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for area management, said:
“Events like this are for the whole community and this is a great opportunity for people in south Leeds to see what a wonderful community they have.
“Young people especially benefit from events like this – it not only gives them something positive to do and focus on but also fosters a greater sense of pride in their neighbourhoods and community.
“I wish them all the very best of luck and I think this proves that south Leeds has talent!”

Notes to 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.

Outer East Area Committee covers Temple Newsam, Crossgates and Winmoor, Garforth and Swillington, and Kippax and Methley wards. Inner South Area Committee covers Middleton Park, Beeston and Holbeck, and City and Hunslet wards. 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

Play it safe with Leeds Safety Rangers

A scheme offering help and guidance to children to keep themselves safe from accidents and crime starts in Leeds on 18 May for four weeks.

Leeds Safety Rangers has been running in the city since 1994, and is an interactive prevention initiative targeted at 9-11 year old children. This group has been chosen as research shows that children begin to understand and absorb safety education at this age. They are also getting ready for the move to secondary school, a time when they often experience new and sometimes challenging situations.

Leeds Safety Rangers events allow children to experience unsafe situations in a controlled and safe environment, and teaches them how to respond to those dangers. The initiative teaches children how to identify hazards, advises them how to get help and encourages them to let others know that their behaviour is dangerous. They also give children the opportunity to practice these safety skills, giving them the confidence to use them if they need to.

Organised by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the events will be spread across four weeks and will take place at Stanningley, Hunslet, Gipton and Moortown fire stations. The council’s peace and emergency planning unit (PEPU) will attend each venue to deliver a session on emergency preparedness. This will include how to identify a range of emergencies, the variety of responses that people may have to these and how to prepare an emergency kit.

More than 60 schools attended the Leeds Safety Ranger events in 2008, including two special needs schools. Over 2200 children benefited from the education and advice given on a range of safety topics including emergency planning, fire, road and water safety, food hygiene and recycling.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive member responsible for central and corporate services said:
“Children and young people can often find themselves in unfamiliar and even potentially dangerous situations as they get older, especially around the time that they move to secondary school and start to be more independent.

“The Leeds Safety Ranger initiative is a great opportunity to make children aware of some of these dangers, and to give them the coaching they need in order to make the right decisions about how to keep themselves and their friends safe.”


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

City agrees new school calendar after successful consultation

Schools in Leeds will have a new calendar in 2010/2011 as a result of Easter falling later than usual in April.

Parents, carers, school staff and pupils across the city were asked how they thought the school year should be structured next year with three different options put forward by Education Leeds.

After considering the outcome of the consultation Leeds City Council’s executive board today (Wednesday) agreed to support the option which will see schools break up between Monday 4 April and Friday 15 April. The Easter bank holidays will fall after the school break, which will result in a total of three four day weeks.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for learning, said:
“Because of Easter falling late in April 2011 all 22 local education authorities across the region agreed to consult on two different timetables - but in Leeds we agreed there was a need for people to consider a third option.

“It was important that parents, carers, staff and pupils were able to influence which proposal was adopted and I am confident the best option has been chosen.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Good attendance is vital if we want to achieve brilliant results for our children and young people so we had to ensure it wasn’t affected over this unusual period.

“Involving parents, carers and everyone connected to our school communities in the consultation we have ensured that the best option for all concerned has been chosen.”

Overall 59 per cent favoured option three compared to 23 per cent for option two and 18 per cent for option one. A total of 93 per cent of respondents did not see a four day week as a problem.

A total of 76 per cent of school based staff preferred option three; 48 per cent of parents preferred option three (compared to 23 per cent in favour of option one and 29 per cent in favour of option two); and 55 per cent of Education Leeds staff preferred option three.

The executive board also approved a move to adopt a fixed break between the spring and summer terms, irrespective of when Easter falls from 2011 / 2012. This will ensure that terms between Christmas and the summer break are of a similar length regardless of when Easter falls in the future.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

‘Exceptional’ and ‘inspirational’ East SILC gets outstanding Ofsted

The East SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre) John Jamieson has been classed as outstanding following its latest Ofsted inspection.

The centre, which is based in Oakwood and attended by children and young people with learning difficulties, also manages the city’s Home and Hospital Teaching Service (HHTS) and Physical Difficulties and Medical Service.

It was classed as outstanding in every category following the inspection last month with teachers, students, the management team, the curriculum and the overall effectiveness of the school all receiving high praise.

Teaching within the school and HHTS was classed as ‘outstanding and inspiring’ with teachers being labelled as ’experts in their subjects’. The inspectors praised the children and young people’s progress describing it as ‘exceptional’ and said the curriculum is ‘exemplary’.

The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the children and young people was also described as ‘exceptional’ and the students were described as ‘courteous and considerate’ and prepared to ‘help each other without prompting’.

Inspectors described the effectiveness of the sixth form as ‘outstanding’, stating that students made exceptional progress in maths, English and personal development. They also highlighted the students’ economic insight, drawing particular attention to the centre’s established enterprise activities which sees the students planning, growing, preparing and selling food.

Diane Reynard, headteacher at the East SILC, said:
“We are thrilled by this outstanding Ofsted report. We have a dedicated team working here and a wonderful group of young people which have combined to make this a very successful organisation.

“Together with the help and support from Education Leeds we will now continue to build on these achievements to ensure we maintain these high standards in the future.”

Roger Cannon, chair of governors at the East SILC, said:
“The governing body is delighted with the outcome of this Ofsted inspection. It represents and recognises commitment of all staff across the school and its services.”

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for education at Leeds City Council, said:
“The commitment and enthusiasm shown by everyone at the East SILC is second to none - and it has paid off with this splendid Ofsted report. I congratulate the teachers and staff on the achievements they have made – this report is a credit to them and all of the children and young people.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“This exceptional Ofsted report praises every aspect of the East SILC and everyone connected to the centre should be extremely proud. It is testament to the brilliant work which goes on and the exceptional outcomes being achieved by the children and young people who attend.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

Leeds: The Housing City: More people to access Golden Triangle with extra £1m mortgage rescue pot

The number of people who can apply for help with arrears on their mortgage in the so-called Golden Triangle during the economic downturn has been increased, thanks to a £1m boost.

The Golden Triangle Partnership – a unique collaboration between Leeds City Council, City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council – has massively extended the scope of its fledgling HomeSave Plus Mortgage Rescue scheme.

The scheme, which was unveiled in January of this year, has been developed to help prevent eligible homeowners who are in financial difficulty from losing their homes.

The scheme was previously only open to assist homeowners who fell within a priority need group. Following feedback from the public, it has been opened up to help all homeowners who are in arrears with their mortgage/secured loans as a result of a recent change in their circumstances, such as a sudden loss of income.

This means a single person in financial difficulty and at risk of losing their home, due to a loss of income or unemployment, can now take advantage of this innovative scheme.

Although there have been various changes to the scheme to ensure flexibility and improved access, there are certain criteria which apply: homeowners in financial difficulty and at risk of having their home repossessed should always in the first instance contact their lender.

Homeowners in financial difficulty, and at risk of losing their home, should contact their local council, who will explore all their housing options.

By opening up the scheme to assist all eligible homeowners means a larger number of homeowners at risk of losing their home and experiencing financial difficulty can now take advantage of the scheme.

Other changes to the scheme include a property value limit of £275,000.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“In difficult times like these, schemes such as this are vital to help people who have lost their jobs and have fallen behind on their mortgage.
“By expanding this scheme, we are ensuring that it can help more people than ever before.
“One of the negative ideas we are trying to break down is that the Golden Triangle is full of millionaires – it’s not, there are thousands of ordinary people there who are finding life increasingly tough during this recession.
“This scheme is expanding to help people like that who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of their homes by harsh economic conditions. It is only right that we help them.”

HomeSave Plus is offered in addition to the products offered under the Government’s National Mortgage Rescue Scheme. The Partnership continues to welcome this intervention at a national level and although there are differences between the two schemes, it is expected that HomeSave Plus will complement the national scheme. Eligible homeowners will have the advantage of applying to both schemes, increasing the options available.

Notes for editors:
The Golden Triangle area is the area between Leeds, York and Harrogate which suffers from very high house prices – leaving many local people unable to afford their own homes.

In terms of affordability, the Golden Triangle area is comparable to outer suburbs in greater London – in addition there are large differences in income levels compared to house prices - lower in the north but higher in the south.

Who is eligible?
• Homeowners who have suffered a recent loss of income
• Homeowners who have a property worth less than £275,000
• Homeowners living in the designated areas of the Golden Triangle
• Only when all available options have been explored and exhausted will a homeowner be eligible to be considered for help under the scheme. Mortgage Rescue may not be suitable for everyone.
• Homeowners in financial difficulty and at risk of losing their home due to a change in their circumstances.
• The local CAB or other money/debt advice agencies will provide advice and undertake a financial assessment.

Successful homeowners will be assisted with one of the following:
• Option One – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and/or secured loan and future monthly mortgage and/or secured loan payments. This will be for a period of up to a maximum of 12 monthly mortgage/secured loan payments
• Option Two – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and /or secured loan and to include a lump sum to reduce the balance outstanding on the mortgage and /or secured loan, reducing future monthly mortgage/secured loan payments to an affordable level
• Option Three – Equity Loan to clear arrears on mortgage and /or secured loan and payment of future monthly mortgage and/or secured loan payments to enable a planned sale of a property.
(Please note maximum limits apply to each of the options)

Contact Numbers:
To check eligibility for the scheme - homeowners should approach their local council or Citizens Advice Bureaux or advice agency.
Local Council CAB
Leeds 0113 2224412 0844 477 4788
Harrogate 01423 556699 01423 567150
York 01904 554141 0844 826 9705

For further information about the scheme, homeowners should contact Guinness Northern Counties on 0845 6037604 or the Golden Triangle Partnership on 0113 2475885.

Eligible areas of the Golden Triangle:
To qualify, homeowners will need to live in the Golden Triangle area of either the Harrogate District, City of York or the following areas of Leeds – Thorner, Scarcorft, Barwick, Harewood, Bardsey, East Keswick, Shadwell, Otley, Pool in Wharfedale, Arthington, Wetherby, Collingham, Linton, Bramham, Clifford, Boston Spa, Thorp Arch, Walton, Bramhope, Garforth, Calverley, Weetwood, Adel, Roundhay, Alwoodley, Horsforth, Cookridge, and Scholes

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

Residents asked ‘how should Leeds be led in future?’

The people of Leeds are being given a say on how the city council is led in future.

Two options are on the table. One is for an elected mayor and cabinet (in the same way as things are arranged in Middlesbrough) and the other is for a leader and cabinet, which is very similar to the current set up in Leeds.

The council is obliged to seek views of residents after the law changed in 2007, so a consultation process is getting underway across the city.

Since 2001, when the council last made changes to the way it is led, a cabinet has been in place (in Leeds we call it an executive board). Made up of members of the main political parties and the Morley Borough Independents, it was set up to make the decision making process more transparent, to improve accountability and to try and encourage more people to vote at election time.

Under the mayor and cabinet option, the council would be run by a mayor directly elected by the people of Leeds. He or she would then set up their cabinet by asking councillors (elected as they are now) to join them to help make decisions and form the ruling executive.

The mayor wouldn’t be a councillor and wouldn’t necessarily have to have a background in politics. He or she would serve four years in office and couldn’t be removed mid-term.

The leader and cabinet arrangement would see a leader elected by fellow councillors who would then form their ‘top team’ to manage the city’s affairs.

Whatever option is chosen, there would be several common features. Electors would continue to vote for local councillors; all elected politicians would jointly make decisions about council policy and the budget; councillors who don’t become part of the cabinet would scrutinise decisions made; the cabinet and executive would not be responsible for planning or licensing matters and the role of Lord Mayor would remain.

A final decision will be made at the end of the year when all views have been collated.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member responsible for corporate governance said:

“The way the council is led is really important and I encourage people to make sure they have a say on this matter.

“I’m glad the opportunity has arisen for residents to have input into this process.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 395 0393

Notes to Editors

More information about the options, the differences between them and advice on how to take part in the consultation can be found by clicking here