Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Council’s face-to-face centres make their mark

The centres that give the people of Leeds face-to-face contact with their local council have been praised for providing excellent customer service to local residents.

Leeds City Council’s 15 One Stop Centres help customers with a range of issues, including housing, council tax, social services, refuse and highways. The centres have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary of serving the people of Leeds, and deal with over 420,000 customer enquiries a year.

The recent assessment was to measure whether the service’s Charter Mark accreditation, the national standard for excellence in customer service, would be renewed – and the centres passed with flying colours.

The Charter Mark demonstrates that an organisation listens to its customers and acts and delivers; involves the local community in the design and delivery of services; involves staff in the planning of services and allows them to put things right wherever possible; and continually acts to improve services.

This year, the centres were praised not only for continuing to deliver excellent customer service, but also for improvements in service delivery and performance. The inspector noted that the centres have “continued to maintain high standards of service delivery despite increased usage resulting from the economic recession”.

The centre in North Seacroft is now open on a Saturday morning for customer enquiries, the first time local residents have been able to get face to face council advice on a Saturday.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for customer services, said:
“This is great news for the staff at our One Stop Centres and shows that we are responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.
“These centres have been serving the people of Leeds for a decade now and continue to evolve and develop in ways that bring great benefits to the city.”

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

Horsforth Hall Park turning Japanese


Caption: The Japanese Garden has been restored to its former glory

The Japanese Garden at Horsforth Hall Park in Leeds will be officially reopened this week following a £90,000 restoration project.

The nine-month project to restore the garden to its former glory has been carried out by Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside Service with support from the ‘Friends of Horsforth Hall Park’, Green Leeds Limited and Biffaward.

Green Leeds Limited is a non-profit-making environmental company and charity, which successfully applied for funding for the project from Biffaward, a multi-million pound environment fund managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts which uses landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

Originally opened in 1987, the Japanese Garden at the park off Hall Lane is a celebration of traditional oriental gardens, with various features and materials used to represent the mountains, woodland areas, waterfalls, lakes and open grasslands found in Japan.

The garden was in need of restoration so the ‘Friends of’ group successfully applied to Green Leeds Limited and Biffaward for funding from their scheme which supports projects which enhance communities and biodiversity. Leeds City Council also added funding and the Parks and Countryside Service then carried out the improvement works.

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

“This project has been a major success and the restored garden looks fantastic. The only one of its type in Leeds, the Japanese Garden provides a wonderful tranquil environment with its diverse and interesting features, and I am sure it will once again prove a very popular attraction at this well-used community park. Everyone involved in the project can feel very proud of their efforts.”

Horsforth Hall Park and the Japanese Garden is open to the public every day of the year during daylight hours. For further information, contact Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside Service on 0113 395 7400.

Notes to editors:

In 1997 Biffa Waste Services agreed to donate landfill tax credits to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) to administer under the fund name Biffaward. Grants made from the fund currently amount to over £90 million, supporting many worthwhile projects.

Biffa Waste Services Limited is a part of the Biffa Limited Group of Companies. Biffa Limited is owned by Waste Acquisition Co Ltd, an entity formed by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Montagu Private Equity & UCIL (Uberior Co-Investments Limited).

Biffa Limited is one of the largest single suppliers of waste management services in the UK. It collects, treats, recovers and disposes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste nationwide.

The landfill tax came into operation in 1996. Its purpose is to reflect the impact of landfill on the environment and also to help achieve the targets for more sustainable waste management. The tax, levied on the tonnage of all material disposed of in landfill sites and collected by Biffa on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs, aims to encourage recycling and reduce waste by raising the cost of disposal.

The regulations allow landfill site operators to direct approximately 6% of the tax they have collected towards approved environmental projects. However, any approved project can only receive 90% of its desired funding from the landfill tax. The remainder must come direct from the landfill site operator or from a third party organisation or company. For further information visit www.biffaward.org or call 01636 670 000.

ENDS

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

John Godber launches biggest ever season at the Carriageworks


Autumn Season Launch Event featuring John Godber
Venue: The Carriagworks, 7 September 2009, 5.30pm


Acclaimed playwright John Godber is launching the Carriageworks’ packed new season this autumn. A special event at the thriving Leeds theatre will see him introduce a new production of Shakers, which runs from 7 – 9 September. Presented by the internationally renowned Hull Truck, making their first visit to the venue, this classic from the award-winning team of Godber and wife Jane Thornton offers a great party night out for all those with fond memories of the decade that taste forgot. It also promises to be just the start of the theatre’s biggest and boldest season of work yet.

He will be joined for the special celebration by Wieke Eringa of Yorkshire Dance, a regular partner in the Carriageworks’ programme, and Jan Morrell of the Leeds Civic Arts Guild. Additional entertainment will be provided by cellist and comedienne Chloe Bezer whose show, Ruby’s Last Confession, is being performed at the Carriageworks on 7 and 8 October.

Yorkshire Dance will be presenting three works during the season featuring some of the UK’s top choreographers, including David Hughes Dance’s The Red Room (5 Oct), Balbir Singh Dance Company’s Trespass and Play of Percentages (6 Oct) and Vincent Dance Theatre’s If We Go On (8 Oct).

Meanwhile, a selection of work under the Freshly Picked banner showcases some of the best physical theatre being made today, including work from three Total Theatre Award winners. The impressive multi-media skills of Precarious will be on show in Anomie (22 Sept), Fringe First winners RedCape will be presenting The Idiot Colony (29-30 Sept) and local heroes Chotto Ookii will be returning from the Edinburgh Festival with their new piece, Sweet (2 Oct).

Rounding off the autumn season in classic Christmas style will be traditional pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs featuring Emmerdale star Jean Rogers as the Wicked Queen.

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

“It is great to have an acclaimed playwright such as John Godber opening the Autumn season at the Carriageworks. The programme of shows for this Autumn is brilliant and offers a wide range of entertainment whether you are a seasoned theatre goer or not. The Carriageworks is a great venue and is thriving and growing every season, with this season set to be the best yet.”

Notes to editors:

1. Members of the press are welcome to attend the launch event. For more details and to register your interest please email carriageworks@leeds.gov.uk.

2. The Carriageworks is a thriving theatre at the heart of Leeds’ Millennium Square. It showcases the best new national and regional performance with a dynamic programme of theatre, dance, comedy and film. At the same time it provides support to young and emerging theatre makers, offering them a key platform to develop their work. The Carriageworks also gives opportunities for members of the local community to take part in a variety of high quality arts activities, and is home to the Leeds Civic Arts Guild. This is an umbrella group of performing societies offering the opportunity for local people to experience making theatre in a fully-functioning professional venue.

3. Hull Truck’s production of Shakers, written by John Godber and Jane Thornton and directed by John Godber, will run at the Carriageworks from 7 – 9 September 2009 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the Box Office on 0113 2243801. Press tickets are available. Please email carriageworks@leeds.gov.uk for more information.

4. Hull Truck Theatre has a long-standing reputation as a pioneering British theatre company and has been a leading name on the UK touring circuit since 1971, touring several productions to high critical acclaim each year. Recent tours include Ladies Down Under by Amanda Whittington, Two by Jim Cartwright and Our House by John Godber. This is the company’s first visit to the Carriageworks.

5. The Leeds Civic Arts Guild is an umbrella group of performing societies offering the opportunity for local people to experience making theatre in a fully functioning professional venue. They will be producing a number of shows during the autumn season. See www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk for more details.

ENDS


For media enquiries please contact:
Catherine Milburn Leeds City Council, 0113 247 8285
catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk