Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Council pledges to work to keep neighbourhoods clean and safe amid cuts

Leeds City Council has pledged to continue to tackle environmental issues locally despite external funding cuts.

Since April 2001, the council’s successful Neighbourhood Wardens scheme has seen wardens become a visible presence on the city’s streets focussing on three main areas: crime and anti social behaviour, environmental problems and community support.

The introduction of PCSOs funded in part by Leeds City Council and the arrival of Neighbourhood Policing Teams, has meant that the wardens are now much more focussed on environmental and community empowerment work.

Now with £400,000 from the government’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund ending, the council is looking at how it can ensure that the work of the wardens is sustained in a way which is affordable to Leeds council taxpayers.

Cllr Les Carter, executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing, said:
“The loss of the government’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund is a massive blow covering a range of different areas and we’ve been forced to look carefully at how we operate the neighbourhood warden service. We know the important role the wardens play and that’s why we are committed to making sure their valuable community role continues.

“While their job title and where they report into is changing, the main focus of their work, their important link to the community and their accountability to area committees will all remain the same. There’ll be slightly fewer posts but we aim to share that impact fairly across all priority areas.”

The Neighbourhood Wardens will move across to join the Environment Action Teams with the new job title of Community Environment Officer. They will continue to work at the neighbourhood level, supporting local communities in the most deprived areas of the city.

The changes would preserve the strong relationships the wardens have forged with the communities they support, while also taking on more power to tackle problems that affect those communities on a daily basis.

Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Neighbourhoods suffering the most from fly-tipping, graffiti and anti-social behaviour need more support and by refocusing the warden role, it would allow us to put the resources where they’re needed the most.

“Most importantly, they’re not going to lose that vital link to the communities they serve, but the actions that they can take to combat environmental problems will be strengthened.”

Plans for the changes are going before the council’s various Area Management Committees over the next week.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335

Leeds celebrates first Armed Forces Day

A whole host of events will take place across the country this Saturday as people are invited to celebrate and recognise HM Armed Forces – past, present and future – as part of Britain’s first ever Armed Forces Day.

In Leeds, a commemorative service will take place at 11am at Leeds Parish Church led by the Rector of Leeds, Canon Tony Bundock. The service will honour those who have served or are still serving in armed conflicts around the world, and will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Judith Elliott, and many Leeds-based past and serving members of the armed forces.

A programme of free activities will take place during the afternoon at Leeds Town Hall. Corporal Simon Brown, who was injured in December 2006 in Basra while serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers attached to 2 Lancs, will open the event at 1pm. Activities will include dance performances, karate displays, stalls and children’s activities. Veterans will be on-hand throughout the day to chat with visitors about their experiences during their time serving their country. A tea dance will take place at 2pm and organist Wilf Gillard will entertain at 4pm.

An exhibition of war memorials from the city’s own collection will also be on display for the first time and will be officially launched by the Lord Mayor at 5pm.

The afternoon will conclude with a Drum Head Service at 5.30pm, where military drums will be draped with banners and a procession of veterans carrying their standards will take place.

Councillor Judith Elliott, Lord Mayor of Leeds said:
“It is important that our armed forces and their families are aware of the city’s gratitude and admiration for those who have given and those who continue to give so much for other people across the world.

“It will be an honour to attend the civic service and afternoon of celebrations on behalf of the people of Leeds.”

Councillor Brenda Lancaster, lead member for veterans said:
“Armed Forces Day gives us an opportunity to say thank you to our serving armed forces and veterans. They and their families have made and continue to make huge personal sacrifices to ensure that our country is defended, and they deserve the nation’s support and recognition.”

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Additional info

The celebration event will take place at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday, 27 June, 1-6pm. Leaflets promoting the event are available from libraries, sport centres and community centres. Further information about Armed Forces Day can be found at http://www.armedforcesday.org.uk

Armed Forces Day will be held annually on 27 June, providing the nation with a dedicated day where people can come together to show their appreciation and support of the armed forces.

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

Towpath improvement scheme gets underway

Work starts next week to improve a pedestrian and cycling route along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath stretching from Kirkstall Brewery Halls of Residence up to Armley Mills, with plans to extend up to the Leeds Metropolitan University Civic Quarter campus, the University of Leeds campus, and into the city centre.

The joint project is being delivered by Leeds City Council, British Waterways, Sustrans and Leeds Metropolitan University with part funding from Cycling England. The scheme will deliver additional benefits to the universities-based UTravelActive project by improving conditions for walking and cycling for students, as well as other users of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath and Aire Valley towpath route.

Phased works will be undertaken over approximately a 20-week period, during which time sections of the towpath will need to be closed. Works will commence on 29 June and are anticipated to be completed by late October 2009. Diversion notices will be displayed where appropriate.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive member for development and regeneration said:
“This work is an important step in improving cycling and pedestrian facilities for the people of Leeds.

“Cycle routes are a crucial part of our bid to tackle congestion on the city’s roads, and I hope that this new, improved route will encourage more people to opt for a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport whilst getting some exercise.

“I am sure that, once completed, the route will prove very popular with students in Kirkstall, as well as commuters heading into the city centre.”

Jo Keegan, regeneration, funding & projects officer for British Waterways Yorkshire said:
“The Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath is particularly well used by a range of users, including walkers, cyclists and runners. This partnership has helped to deliver real improvements to a multi-user route so more people can benefit from all that the waterways can offer.

“This scheme is the latest of a series of towpath upgrades and we’re keen to continue this progress by working with a range of user groups and local authorities to expand the mileage available to our users.”

David Hall, Sustrans’ regional director for Yorkshire said:
"Sustrans is pleased to have been able to support this project with £100,000 in funding from the Links to School programme. The programme works in partnership with local authorities to connect schools, colleges and communities to the 12,000 miles of the National Cycle Network. It is vital that we do whatever we can to support people to cycle and walk across Leeds."

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Additional info

The scheme will cost £426,240. A £100,000 grant is being provided by Cycle England and the remaining cost will be met through the Integrated Transport Budget.

The route will be made more cycle friendly with the addition of ramps to steps at bridges. Barriers will also be positioned to allow cycle and wheelchair access whilst preventing motorcycles. Disabled parking will be provided near Viaduct Road.

The Links to School programme is funded by the Department for Transport. Cycling England appointed Sustrans as the agency to administer the fund across England.

Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity. Its vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. It is achieving this through innovative but practical solutions to the UK’s transport challenges.

UTravelActive is one of 50 projects funded through the BIG Lottery Wellbeing programme as part of the Sustrans led Travel Actively Consortium. For further project details see: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/UTravelActive/

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

Surviving the credit crunch needn’t be dull

Looking for a fun, free, family activity to get involved with as well as finding out about how to save money?

Leeds City Council’s South East Area Management Team is co-ordinating a Beat the Credit Crunch event to give people advice and guidance on how to get through these current testing times.

Taking place on Saturday 4th July, from 12pm until 3pm at Middleton Leisure Centre, the event will provide local people the opportunity to find out more about training and job opportunities by visiting the new mobile Job Shop Bus, have a chance to talk to advisors about starting up a business, as well as being able to get advice and guidance on money matters and benefits.

Fun family activities will also be taking place from cake decorating to flower arranging, there will be something for all the family and, best of all, the event is totally free.

Also taking place, will be the third heat of the Inner South Area Committee funded I Love South Leeds Festival Junior Superstar competition for under 11s from 1pm to see which five acts will make it through to the grand finale taking place at Holbeck Gala on 11th July.

So far dancers, singers, a Michael Jackson impersonator and a comedian have made it through to the final event. Another I Love South Leeds activity taking place on Saturday 4th July is the Middleton Mile in Middleton Park – a mile fun run for under 19s. For more details about I Love South Leeds – visit the website ilovesouthleeds.com

The weekend of the 4th July also sees the Middleton Park FC football gala. A number of teams from West Yorkshire compete in a number of age categories over a two day tournament. This will also be taking place on the football pitches around Middleton Leisure Centre.

The Beat the Credit Crunch event links into the 10-year Middleton Regeneration Strategy, led by local councillors and supported by Re'new, which aims to make the area a better place to live in over the next decade. Just one part of the Strategy aims to put together a set of actions which will attempt to deal with issues of worklessness, training and provision of support for people wanting to start a new business.

A number of partner organisations are providing activities as part of the Beat the Credit Crunch Event along with South East Area Management, these include Aire Valley Homes Leeds, Health For All, Learning Partnerships, Leeds City Council Jobs & Skills, Leeds Chamber of Commerce and Job Centre Plus.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937
Email: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

TV star David coming to Leeds ? It's the Real Deal


Caption: David Dickinson is coming to Leeds

Star of daytime television David Dickinson will be in Leeds this week filming for his antiques show ‘Dickinson’s Real Deal’.

The antiques expert known by his fans as ‘The Duke’ who shot to fame presenting ‘Bargain Hunt’ will be at Pudsey Civic Hall on Saturday 27th June complete with his famous catchphrase “cheap as chips” filming for the ITV1 show.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the event, which takes place from 9am-6pm, taking their antique items for sale with them to try and sell them to the dealers who will be present, or to try and beat the dealers by gambling on them going for a higher price at auction instead.

***********************MEDIA OPPORTUNITY *********************
David Dickinson will be available for media interviews and photos during gaps in filming throughout the day from 10:30am onwards. Please contact Senior Researcher Ben Hewish on arrival or to arrange something in advance call him on 0117 970 7620.
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Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are delighted to welcome David Dickinson to Leeds and Pudsey Civic Hall. David is obviously a very well-known television celebrity, so hopefully lots of people will go along to see him in action as well as taking part in what promises to be a fun day out.”

Located at Dawson’s Corner in Pudsey, the Civic Hall is the ideal venue for a range of events and functions, such as weddings, conferences, meetings, exhibitions, concerts and shows. The centrepiece is the prestigious ballroom, which can host 450 people, while there is also The Fulneck Room, The Woodhall Room and Owlcotes Bar which are all flexible and versatile spaces.

All the rooms are available for hire, while free parking is also available for up to 300 cars. For further information on Pudsey Civic Hall, call 0113 2146110 or go to www.leeds.gov.uk/Leisure_and_culture/Venues/Pudsey_Civic_Hall__meeting_rooms_and_conference_facilities.aspx

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For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Tell us more about parking in Otley

Residents in Otley 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 at Otley Library, Nelson Street on Friday 3 July, 12 – 6pm, and Saturday 4 July, 10am - 4pm to hear the public’s views.

Information from recent surveys will be on show, leaflets will be available, and people will be urged to put forward their views on parking issues and give written responses and ideas. The public’s input will be used in Mouchel’s work over the next few months to develop recommendations for a new parking strategy for the town.

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

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Additional info

Leaflets and response forms can also be collected from the One Stop Centre on Boroughgate and from the Civic Centre.

The information is also available at www.leeds.gov.uk/otleyparkingstrategy where responses can be made on-line.

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

Leeds City Council declares new occupational health service officially open

Leeds City Council officially opened its new in-house occupational health service on 8 June.

The new service, which replaces an external contract, is more proactive in supporting staff and provides a more robust occupational health care service for all council employees. Since its introduction earlier this year, more than 900 employees have been referred.

Occupational health is a specialist area of public health and deals with the health and wellbeing of the working age population, working with managers and staff to maintain and, where possible, improve the psychological and physical wellbeing of the workforce.

Three main areas make up the services offered:

Employment related
Health surveillance
Health promoting and related services

In addition to an improved mainstream service, the new service will also provide complementary services such as physiotherapy, holistic therapy and other specialists through third party agreements.

Cllr Richard Brett, who officially launched the service, said:
“Leeds City Council want to provide all the support we can to our employees in order to ensure that our services run smoothly.

“It is our intention to be able to provide a relevant and bespoke approach to council staff which, over time, will produce savings, help to lower staff absences and contribute to the wider wellbeing of the city.”

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

Miss Leeds gets her hands dirty and goes green to support Recycle Week

Miss Leeds has joined forces with the council to go green and encourage people to get their hands dirty, try home composting and growing their own food.

Food waste makes up a third of the weight of most black wheeled bins in Leeds which are disposed of in landfill. When squashed under all the other waste, organic waste can not break down properly and instead produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Composting is a greener way of disposing of those food scraps that will never be on the menu such as egg shells, potato peelings, tea bags and banana skins.

In the first of a series of family composting events run by the council – launched during Recycle Week (22-28 June) - Miss Leeds, Viki Bailey will be helping to encourage and raise awareness about the importance of home composting organic waste and the vital role it plays in reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfill.

Latest figure reveal that last year Leeds residents recycled, re-used and composted 30.4% - over 97,000 tonnes, an increase from 25.92% in 2006-07. The council has set targets of recycling 33.9% of household waste during the next 12 months and reach over 50% by 2020.

************************MEDIA OPPORTUNITY****************
When: Wednesday 24 June at 1.30pm
Where: B. Whiteley Farm and Nursery, Houghside Road, Pudsey
What: Miss Leeds, Viki Bailey and Cllr James Monaghan will be ‘getting their hands dirty’ demonstrating home composting and growing your own vegetables.
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Cllr James Monaghan, executive board member for environmental services, said:
“It is important we think about how we can reduce our waste, and composting is the best way we can reuse organic waste in an entirely natural way.

“By composting more waste instead of putting it in the black bin, we will be able to reduce the amount of bio-degradable waste the city deposits at landfill and instead produce a nutritious fertiliser and a natural compost for growing fruit, veg and plants. I hope residents are encouraged to visit one of our events and try out the compost bins and see for themselves how practical and easy to use they are.”

Miss Leeds, Viki Bailey, who is bidding for the Miss England title, said:
“Everyone should be doing their bit to help protect the environment and recycling and composting are simple, everyday ways we can look after Leeds.

“Making your own compost and growing your own veg is a fun and enjoyable activity for all the family. It encourages exercise, saves money and it’s a rewarding, natural way to get tasty fresh vegetables."

A team of recycling experts will be holding a series of ‘Grow Your Own’ workshops at B Whiteley Farm Shop and Nursery in Pudsey during the summer. Leeds parents and children can find out how to home compost, tour the farm and plant their own vegetables to take home. The 2 hour sessions will run on 29 July 10.30 - 12.30, 5 August 13.00 – 15.00 and 12 August 13.00 – 15.00. Places are free and can be booked in advance by emailing info.recycling@leeds.gov.uk or phoning 0113 2475878.

Leeds City Council is working in partnership with Recycle Now and WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) to offer all Leeds residents subsidised home compost bins. For more details visit www.recyclenow.com/compost or phone by telephoning 0845 076 0223 quoting ‘reference Loop’. The offer is available until 30 September 2009.

Notes to editors:
Now in its fifth year, Recycle Week is a national initiative supported by WRAP, the Waste Resources Action Programme. This year, the theme for Recycle Week is 'let's waste less...' encouraging people to try something new in an effort to go greener and cut back on the waste we all produce. For more information visit www.recyclenow.com.
For full listings of Recycle Week activities taking place in Leeds visit www.leeds.gov.uk

To support Miss Leeds in her bid to go forward to the final 15 of the Miss England, text VIKI BAILEY to 81118. Each vote will cost £1.00 which includes a 15p donation to the Miss England three chosen charities (B-EAT, National Autistic Society and the Variety Club, the children's charity).

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For media enquiries, please contact;
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
Email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk