Friday, 29 May 2009

Residents’ big ideas face the city’s own Dragons!

Caption: An entrepreneur presents their business idea to a panel of judges during the Strictly Come Business event

Six big ideas got a grilling when Leeds got its own ‘Dragons’ Den’.

Trinity and All Saints College in Horsforth played host to the west north west area finals of the Strictly Come Business competition.

Six entrepreneurs were given the chance to ‘tout’ their business idea to a panel of judges and an audience, before being ‘grilled’ by the expert panel made up of local business people, including West North West Homes Leeds (WNWHL) board member John Sharples.

WNWHL is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. At the event, social housing residents with a business idea were offered advice and support by Places for People and partner organisations.

Six bright and innovative ideas were selected and put forward to the competition element of the project. The residents were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the judges:
• Adam Bowman’s idea was an organic horticulture enterprise which would ultimately involve employing vulnerable young people with learning difficulties.
• Bukka Di Santos has set up Media57, a public relations and media company, and wishes to expand her business.
• Doreen & Shirley Thompson would be working from home producing greetings cards, ornamental decorated eggs, and cakes – the whole family turned up to support and distributed samples of the cakes throughout the audience and judges.
• Beverley Bonnet’s idea was a mobile tanning business, which would attend people homes for parties offering beauty treatments and tanning.
• Kelly Newton wanted to set up in business as a Hypnotherapist, to help people overcome addictions and phobias (amongst other things), but Kelly wants to concentrate on lower income families as opposed to the high end market.
• Finally Anna Steel wanted to take Yoga and Meditation into schools as a way of helping to teach children to control their behaviour.

The judges gave the contestants a grilling, but also offered them valuable advice, but it was not only the judges that had their say on the night. The audience also had to vote on each of the contestants, and after a nervous wait, the winners were announced as Bukka Santos, and Doreen and Shirley Thompson, who will both represent west north west Leeds area in the grand final to be held in June.

The event was the culmination of a project managed by Places for People, and sponsored by a number of housing organisations including WNWHL. Over the past four months a number of local events have taken place in community centres on estates throughout the west and north west areas of Leeds.

There were no losers on the night as all of the contestants will, over the coming months, receive further advice and assistance to take their business ideas forward.

Cathy Clelland, chair of the West North West Homes Leeds board, said:
“Thanks must go to the area panels for their support in funding this excellent project, which really will help to make a difference to our customers and our communities.
“Hundreds of people have been engaged with, and given invaluable expert advice and assistance over the past months.
“Places for People have taken that advice to the heart of our communities and met people on their own doorsteps, which is imperative for some of our more hard to reach customers.”

Notes for editors
West North West Homes Leeds
is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. It is wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
West North West Homes Leeds covers the areas of Otley, Pool, Bramhope, Guiseley, Yeadon, Cookridge, Rawdon, Holt Park. Tinshill, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Burley, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Woodhouse, Wortley, Farnley, and New Farnley.

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

Going ‘even greener’ in IT as recycling deal reaches milestone

The IT team at Leeds City Council has achieved a new environmental milestone – 100 per cent of redundant electronic equipment is now being recycled.

The authority signed a deal with technology specialist RDC in 2007 which covers items like old computers, keyboards, mice, monitors, printers and servers.

Equipment is wiped clean of data – to military standards - before it is taken apart and components reused.

Now that nothing is going to landfill damage to the environment is being minimised.

If any of the equipment retains any value, the profit will be shared between Leeds City Council and RDC.

RDC had to meet a number of tough criteria before the council signed up.

This includes data security, making sure information is wiped from hard drives and protection against software licence infringements; that all UK and EU legislation is adhered to; that there are systems in place for fully reported environmentally sustainable recycling leading to zero per cent landfill and 100 per cent of non working parts are recovered and that waste electrical and electronic equipment laws (known as ‘WEEE’) are complied with.

Leeds City Council’s ICT team is no stranger to ‘going green’.

Last year, it secured a nomination at the Computing Awards for Excellence when it was praised for developing projects to reduce carbon emissions by more than 760 tonnes over a three year period, and a saving in excess of £100,000 in energy costs.

Cllr Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member with responsibility for information technology services said:

“Technology develops so quickly these days and regrettably, that means some equipment becomes obsolete or surplus to requirements.

"However, none of it is now just being thrown away.

"Instead, any hardware with a bit of potential still in it will be given a new lease of life and items which are really at the end of the road will be entirely recycled.

"This project is a fantastic way of the council minimising the impact it has on the environment and proves once again we’re trying to be as green as possible.”

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