Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Otley Chevin flying the flag again as part of ‘magnificent seven’

Caption: Staff from Leeds CIty Council's Parks and Countryside Service receive the Green Flag with executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter (centre) outside the White House at Otley Chevin

Leeds now has seven parks recognised as being amongst the best in the country as they have been given prestigious Green Flag Awards.

Golden Acre Park, Kirkstall Abbey, Lotherton Hall Estate, Pudsey Park, Roundhay Park and the Temple Newsam Estate have all maintained their positions on the national list of excellence which has been announced for this year.

The addition for this year is Otley’s Chevin Forest Park, which has returned to the list for the first time since 2005 reflecting a range of improvements which have been carried out.

The Green Flag Award scheme began in 1996 and is the national standard for parks and green spaces. Winners vary from Victorian parks and town centre gardens to nature reserves, country parks and cemeteries. Sites must be judged to be welcoming, safe and well maintained with the strong involvement of the local community. Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status.

Pudsey Park was the first in Leeds to achieve Green Flag status in 2003. Lotherton Hall and Temple Newsam Estate were added the following year, before Golden Acre Park, Roundhay Park and Kirkstall Abbey were added from 2005 to 2007. All of these parks are managed by Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside Service.

The 180-hectare Chevin Forest Park in Otley had appeared on the list in 2005, but came off while a three-year plan of improvements to the management of the park was carried out. This has seen the appointment of a Chevin Estate Officer and two support staff, the creation of a comprehensive 10-year management plan for the park, improved information made available to visitors and closer links to community groups, colleges and schools. The creation of new wetland areas in the park have also been carried out.

One of the major improvements has seen a partnership with Leeds City Council’s Adult Services team develop resulting in a building and the courtyard area around The White House in the park adapted for use by people with disabilities as well as Day Service centres from across Leeds.

The White House Café has also reopened this year, open from 10am-2pm on Tuesdays to Fridays, being run by people with disabilities as a community café. The café also doubles up as a visitor information centre with leaflets, orienteering maps, guides and other information available.

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

“We are delighted to now have seven of our parks in Leeds on the list of the finest parks in the country, and in particular it is fantastic to see the Otley Chevin earn its place again which is a great reward for all the hard work carried out there.

“Maintaining all the parks and green spaces in Leeds is a big challenge, but the Parks and Countryside Service do it to an excellent standard and it is a source of huge pride to the officers and the city as a whole that their efforts are recognised in this way.”

In addition to the Green Flag Award, Otley’s Chevin Forest Park has also been presented with a Special Award for Innovation by the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign. The award was recognition for the park’s ‘excellence in community engagement’, and in particular for the range of improvements carried out to facilities for use by people with a range of disabilities and the provision of an all-terrain vehicle (called the Rural Pursuit Vehicle) that can accommodate a wheelchair and driver.

Notes to editors:
The Green Flag Award scheme, launched in 1996, is managed by the Green Flag Plus Partnership (made up of Keep Britain Tidy, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and GreenSpace) on behalf of Communities and Local Government. For further information visit the website at


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

Green, amber or red?

What do you think about the traffic lights in Leeds? What are your thoughts about congestion, safety and delays on our roads? The council is keen to get your feedback to help them to prioritise the traffic signalling systems in the city.

Five years ago, 80% of Leeds’ residents thought that the traffic lights in the city were excellent, good or satisfactory. Since then the traffic signals section has been working hard to increase the percentage of junctions that comply with the Disabilitiy Discrimination Act, tackle congestion, and install traffic lights that are safe, well designed and efficient.

Leeds council is in the process of implementing an enhanced control system for Leeds, which will include new signs for car parks displaying live data, strategies to make it easier to deal with congestion caused by incidents, and high quality traveller information.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive member with responsibility for city development said:
“The results of the last urban traffic management survey gave us a fair bit of work to do on specific sites. We will continue to listen carefully to what the public say, to ensure that improvements are made where residents have highlighted issues.

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to complete this new survey, which will help us to provide a better traffic management system for the people of Leeds.”

People can access the questionnaire by going to the website and following the link at the bottom of the page. The survey will remain on the website until 18 September. Or they can phone the urban traffic control team on Leeds 264 0137 or write to UTC, Leeds City Council, Middleton Ring Road, LS10 4AX.

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

New Europe Direct web service goes live

Caption:Winner of the Europe Direct Leeds competition, Julie Cleverley with Lynette Falconer, Information Development Manager in the Library and Information Service team.

Leeds City Council is supporting two new social networking pages created by Europe Direct Leeds to allow Leeds Citizens better access to information on the European Union.

As part of a new drive to make information more accessible to a wider audience, Europe Direct Leeds, hosted by the council’s Library and Information Service, has enhanced its existing website and introduced new Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Leeds Europe Direct Information Centre, based in Central Library, provides a focal point for Leeds citizens to access information on how the European Commission, Council and Parliament work and also allows people to keep up to date with issues that affect them.

The centre, one of 16 in the UK and 500 across Europe, is an information service which aims to help with general questions on every aspect of Europe and is able to put people in touch with relevant specialist services if required. Libraries across Leeds will offer access to these new internet services.

As part of the launch of the internet services, a competition was held for visitors to the Europe Direct Leeds stall at Kirkstall Festival.

The prize winner, Julie Cleverley, from Kirkstall, was presented with £50 worth of book tokens plus a selection of fair trade products.

Prize winner Julie Cleverley said:

“I work at Leeds Met as a librarian and Europe Direct is a valuable information resource for me on all topics European in my role as a librarian. It’s brilliant having a local service for the public and I hope more people find out about it through the launch of the new Europe Direct Leeds website, Facebook and Twitter.”

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

“The introduction of the new internet services will make the service available to a much larger audience. The centre is an important asset to citizens in Leeds, as it allows people the means to find out more about the European Union and its activities and keep up to date with any important policy decisions. I would like to congratulate Julie for winning the competition and to stress the value of this service that our Library and Information service team have set up.”

All events and activities are featured on the Europe Direct Leeds website at and Facebook, or you can sign up for ‘tweets’ to keep you up to date.


For media enquiries please contact Catherine Milburn,
Leeds City Council press office, on 0113 247 8285

Audio: Ramadan Burglary

This relates to our press release 'City's warning over Ramadan burglars'. The audio contains pre-recorded interviews in English and Punjabi with Superintendent Simon Whitehead from West Yorkshire Police, and Harvinder Saimbhi, Leeds City Council's Public Safety Manager.

ramadan burglary interview.mp3

City’s warning over Ramadan burglars

The police and council in Leeds are urging the city’s Muslims to check their home security if they are keeping valuable items on the premises during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week.

Last year, there were a number of burglaries across the city that targeted Asian households containing valuable gold jewellery.

West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council will be issuing crime prevention advice to mosques, community centres and homes in hotspot areas and extra patrols will be in place throughout the holy month.

The initiative is backed by Safer Leeds, the city’s crime and disorder reduction partnership.

At this time of year, Muslims are fasting for Ramadan and making regular visits to Mosques. In recent years, burglars have targeted Muslim homes during the festival, as they are aware that houses are more likely to be left empty at certain times.

Householders are being urged to avoid leaving valuables on display, to ensure all external doors and windows are securely locked, and to use burglar alarms to help deter possible burglars.

Superintendent Simon Whitehead of West Yorkshire Police said:
“We want to ensure that everyone observing Ramadan can continue their religious obligations without fear of becoming a victim of crime.

“The extra patrols in place will not only reassure the public, but send a clear warning to offenders that they will be caught if they commit a crime in the area.”

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member for community safety and chair of Safer Leeds said:
“A third of all burglaries are as a result of an open or unlocked door or window, carried out by opportunistic thieves who can sneak in and out in a matter of minutes.

“People can help keep their property safe by simply locking windows and doors, even when they are in. Also, if you have an alarm, put it on when the house is empty, you are in bed or even just popping round to the neighbour’s house for a few minutes.

“If people keep expensive jewellery in the home for any period of time, we advise them to keep it well hidden and, if possible, locked away in a secure safe.”

Cars parked outside religious buildings during prayer times should also be locked and valuable items such as handbags, purses and phones removed or kept out of view.

Anyone witnessing any suspicious activity should report it to the police by calling 0845 6060606, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 in the case of an emergency, where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress.

• Ramadan in 2009 will start on Friday 21 August and will continue for 30 days until Saturday 19 September.
• Safer Leeds is the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) dedicated to tackling drugs and crime in the city. It is a partnership between a number of local agencies including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, NHS Leeds, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and West Yorkshire Police Authority.


For further information contact:
John Donegan
(0113) 247 4450 (mon-wed am) (0113) 395 1510 (wed pm-fri)

Wheelchairs no barrier for green-fingered gardeners at Rothwell’s Rose Farm day centre

CAPTION: Betty Robinson of Methley, a regular user of Rothwell's Rose Farm Day Centre waters plants in the centre's new garden.

A Leeds City Council-run day centre in Rothwell has opened a new garden specially designed for wheelchair using gardeners.

The aim of the new garden is to increase service users’ independence by enabling them to do more by themselves. The new garden includes special raised flower-beds that allow wheelchair users to exercise their green fingers.

Rose Farm day care centre provides social and recreational support to its users and works to increase their overall well-being.

The developments at Rose Farm are part of change in the way social care is delivered in Leeds, with a focus on increasing service users’ independence by allowing them to get involved in activities they had previously been unable to enjoy.

This change will be achieved by adapting day centres to improve access to facilities for disabled users and encouraging them to take part in activities to boost their well-being.

Councillor Peter Harrand , executive board member for Adult Health and Social Care said:
“We are committed to continually improving our day centres. Gardening is a marvellous way of encouraging people’s independence, and developments like this will greatly help to improve their confidence.”


For media enquiries please contact:
John Donegan, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 247 4450

City’s thanks for three thousand years of (social) service to Leeds

114 people working for Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care will today receive long service awards.

The group, who have each worked for the council for 25 years or more, have between them clocked up nearly 3,000 years of service to vulnerable people in Leeds.

Included in the number are front-line care workers, social workers, senior managers, and people working in all aspects of social care for the city.

The long-service awards will take place alongside the annual awards for excellence event to recognise the many people working in adult health and social care who have gone above and beyond what is expected of them in their work.

Media opportunity:
People receiving long service awards will briefly be available for photograph or interview before the start of the awards event.
Date: Wednesday 19 August 2009
Time: 12:00-12:30 hrs
Place: The Rose Bowl, Portland Crescent, LS1 3HB

Councillor Peter Harrand, executive board member for Adult Health and Social Care said:
“Social care is more than just a job – for many many people it is a passionate vocation.

“The people receiving awards today have devoted much of their working career to improving the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable people. I feel proud to recognise them in today’s awards.”


For media enquiries please contact:
John Donegan, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 247 4450