Friday, 4 September 2009

Plans underway to minimise disruption caused by refuse collection strike

Preparations are in place to try and minimise disruption caused when council refuse collection and street cleaning staff in Leeds go on strike on Monday (7 September).

Resident’s recycling and refuse collections, street cleansing (including emptying of litter bins) and the normal operation of household waste sorting sites could all be affected by this action.

During the action, the council will work hard to ensure that the impact is kept to a minimum and try to maintain as many services as possible and put in place alternative ways to dispose of rubbish and recycle materials if necessary.

Council officials have requested that unions provide staff cover for some vulnerable and emergency services such as medical waste and needle collections. However, this request seems to have been refused.

All households (around 333,000 homes) across the city have been sent letters telling them how they may be affected, giving them the following advice:

• If your recycling or waste has not been collected by 6:00 p.m. on your collection day, please take your bin(s) back into your garden or yard and put them out on your next scheduled collection day.
• If your bins are full please put your rubbish or recycling into bags and put them out with your bin(s) on your next scheduled collection day.

Residents have also been reminded that they can take any excess recycling or rubbish to one of the city’s 11 household waste sorting site, which the council will try to keep open and will provide more containers for recyclables.

There are also 480 bring sites across the city providing collection of a range of materials where residents are able to recycle range of material locally including glass, paper, cans, textiles (clothing), plastic bottled and plastic bags.

Cllr James Monaghan, executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Despite our best efforts to resolve this dispute through negotiations, the unions seem intent on simply causing disruption to important services by calling for this strike action.

“The council is working hard to draw up contingency plans and will do all it can to keep disruption to a minimum, but I ask the people of Leeds to bear with us during this difficult time.”


Throughout the strike the council will be keeping residents up to date through their website. For the latest information please go to www.leeds.gov.uk/strike.

Notes to editors:
Both The GMB and Unison trade unions have confirmed they intend to begin indefinite strike action from Monday 7 September 2009. Just 311 of the 668 refuse and street cleansing staff balloted voted in favour of this action.

The strike relates to a pay and grading review which the council - and all other local authorities - legally have to carry out. The aim is to make sure that men and women earn equal salaries for equal work. We have been working hard with the Unions for several years to introduce the new pay and grading structure and this has resulted in pay rises for 10,500 employees of the local authority and for 10,500 their pay remains the same. It has unfortunately also resulted in around 2500 staff being adversely affected, of which 440 are in refuse, street cleansing and waste management services.

However, the council has agreed to protect the pay of staff who are adversely affected by the new pay and grading structure for a period of three years.

The trade unions want us to 'level up' salaries so that no-one loses any pay, but this would cost the council £45 million per year - which equates to an annual council tax rise of 18% - or mean thousands of job losses and a massive impact on all council services. However, this is not an option.

The council has encouraged the unions to continue discussions to look at legitimate ways to address the loss of pay and has recently proposed a performance pay scheme which has the potential to close the pay gap and improve the refuse service provided to residents.

ENDS

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

Mother spared jail after pleading guilty to £25,000 benefit fraud

A mother-of-three faces 240 hours of community service after pleading guilty to fraudulently claiming almost £25,000 in benefits.

At Leeds Crown Court today, Alicia Price was sentenced to a 240 hour community punishment order, which she must serve within 12 months, for claiming £24,810.17 in housing benefit between 28 May 2001 and 17 April 2006.

Price, 42, pleaded guilty back in July, with the case adjourned to obtain pre-sentence reports.

She had received housing benefit for 52 Primley Park Lane, Leeds, which she claimed she was renting from a private landlord. However, a detailed investigation conducted by the council revealed that her ‘landlord’ was actually the father of her children and therefore she was not entitled to Housing Benefit.

When originally interviewed by council officials, Price denied that she actually knew, nor had any relationship with her ‘landlord'. The investigation into her claim included checks on the Land Registry, her children’s birth certificates and financial details.

The application forms, letters and tenancy agreements Alicia provided in support of her claim had been falsified in order to disguise the true identity of the landlord and her relationship with him.

In August 2007, the father of Alicia’s children, Bruce Bitton, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for drug trafficking offences.

In September 2007, Alicia Price submitted a rebuttal witness statement during a Proceeds of Crime investigation and confirmed that she had known that the property she was living in was owned by the father of her children, that it had been purchased for her and her children to live in as she couldn’t get a mortgage at that time, and that she made payments to the mortgage with her Housing Benefit entitlement.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for benefits, said:

“Benefits are intended for people who need them – not people who seem to think they are entitled to them. Benefit fraud is not just a crime, it is also taking money that could be better used helping people in genuine difficulty.

“I hope this sends out another reminder to benefit cheats that we can and will take action against them.”

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

West Street tunnel closures come to an early end

Road closures to allow for essential maintenance work in the West Street tunnel on the inner ring road have now been lifted.

West Street was fully re-opened to traffic on Friday 28 August - well ahead of schedule.

The remaining works, such as concrete repairs and tunnel painting, will be carried out with the minimum possible interference to traffic with lane restrictions confined to off-peak times. West Street Tunnel may have to be closed on a couple of occasions at night, but this should cause virtually no delays as vehicles will be diverted over the tunnel and back down the slip road.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive board member responsible for development said:
“We would like to thank motorists for their co-operation and understanding for the duration of the road closures. Although work to the tunnel will continue for another few weeks, there will be no further delays to traffic.”

All the remaining works are programmed for completion by late October 2009. Leeds City Council would like to thank all highway users for their co-operation and understanding.

ENDS

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

Council disappointment as unions push ahead with strike action

The leader of Leeds City Council has expressed his disappointment at the decision by two trades unions to push ahead with strike action next week.

Councillor Richard Brett said:

“It goes without saying that the decision by the unions to call their members out next week is deeply regrettable.

“I believe strike action serves no purpose other than to cause disruption to the people of Leeds.

“We have been clear in our determination to resolve this dispute by negotiation and we have presented the unions with a possible solution.

“However, for whatever reason they keep walking away from the table after making unrealistic demands of us – including insisting we alter job evaluation scores to the point it would cost the council tax payers of this city many millions of pounds.

“That is an absolute non-starter.

“It is also very misleading for the unions to claim their members will lose as much as £6000 a year.

“The council has agreed to three years of pay protection, so salaries will not be affected for another 18 months.

Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member with responsibility for refuse collection, said:

“Despite our best efforts to resolve this dispute, the unions seem intent on simply causing chaos by calling for this strike action.

"At this time, they have indicated their unwillingness even to make an exception for medical waste collections, therefore putting the city’s most vulnerable people at risk.

“The council will do all it can to keep disruption to a minimum, but I ask the people of Leeds to bear with us during this difficult time.”

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 0393
Email: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk

Leeds goes football crazy for England World Cup 2018 delegation visit

…Press Call Notice…

When: Monday 7th September 2009
Where: Millennium Square, 10.30am
What: backthebidleeds.com football-themed activity to coincide with England 2018 inspection for Leeds to be a host city for the 2018 World Cup
Opportunities:
• Interviews with members of the backthebidleeds team:
- Councillor Andrew Carter, Joint Leader of Leeds City Council
- Wallace Sampson, chief executive, Harrogate Borough Council
- Deborah Green, chief executive, Marketing Leeds
- Plus Leeds United legends
• Photographs of above people amongst activity in the square

Leeds goes football crazy for England World Cup 2018 delegation visit

Millennium Square will be a hub of football-themed activity next Monday (7th September) when the England World Cup 2018 delegation come to Leeds.

The Square will be turned into a mini football festival from 9.30am complete with activities for all the family to enjoy and show their support for backthebidleeds.com - the city’s campaign to become a host city for the 2018 World Cup.
Representatives from England 2018 will be visiting Leeds to see for themselves why it should be a host city for the games. After a presentation at Leeds City Museum about Leeds as a potential host city, they will be split into three groups to visit venues specific training sites, FIFA fan fest (festival) sites and City Centre hotels, accompanied by relevant council officers and representatives of Leeds.

Whilst the delegation get a feel for what Leeds can offer if it were to host the World Cup, people of all ages can get into the football spirit. Throughout the day there will be giant inflatables, interactive games on the BBC Big Screen, Leeds City Region football mascots as well as young people talking about how football has changed their lives, to create a buzz around, and to drum up support for the Leeds bid.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of Leeds City Council said: "The Leeds City Region is doing everything possible to ensure Leeds becomes a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The prospect of hosting World Cup matches is an exciting one. It will bring huge benefits to the city and surrounding area and ensure that all that is great about Leeds and Yorkshire is shown to audiences around the world. I am confident that the England 2018 delegation will be impressed during their visit and will return to London convinced that Leeds would make a great host city."

Deborah Green, chief executive of Marketing Leeds said: “Being a host city for the World Cup 2018 would be fantastic news for Leeds, raising the profile of our city on the national and international stage, as well as showcasing our ability to host major events. We want to demonstrate to the England 2018 team the passion and enthusiasm behind our bid, so encourage people to go to Millennium Square on Monday to join in the fun and show their support for backthebidleeds.com.”

Shaun Harvey, chief executive of Leeds United added: "We've been working hard over the past few months and we are looking forward to welcoming the England 2018 delegation. There will be plenty going on around the city on Monday and we hope as many people as possible will show their support for our bid."

England 2018 was established by the English Football Association to lead its bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Leeds is one of 15 cities which has been invited to bid to be a host city.

The bid is being prepared by Leeds City Council, Leeds United and Marketing Leeds with the help of many other organisations. If Leeds is successful games would be held at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United. It’s proposed that improvements would be made to the stadium so it would be capable of hosting matches up to and including quarter finals.

To vote for Leeds to be one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup visit www.backthebidleeds.com.

Ends

Notes to editors
• For more information contact Debbie Clarke on 0113 214 5203, debbie.clarke@marketingleeds.com

• Check out the official You Tube channel which will showcase the various activities planned to show everyone why Leeds should be selected www.youtube.com/user/backthebidleeds

• Also, post your comments of encouragement for Leeds to be selected on the Official England2018 Bid Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/england2018

• Join our Twitter stream @backthebidleeds, and use the #backthebid hashtag on your Tweets


About Marketing Leeds
Marketing Leeds is the city’s strategic marketing organisation, providing a leadership role for the city’s marketing. It aims to raise the profile of Leeds as a vibrant, dynamic, internationally competitive city and as the gateway to Yorkshire and the UK.

It was created from a powerful partnership between the public and private sectors and continues to receive funding from three sources: Leeds City Council, Yorkshire Forward and from the private sector through its Champions Scheme. The company is limited by guarantee, with a board of ten directors drawn from a cross section of the business community and the council.

www.leedsliveitloveit.com
www.marketingleeds.com

Who are the heroes in south Leeds?

They don’t have superpowers and you’ll not see them leaping over buildings in a single bound, but that doesn’t mean they’re not heroes to their local communities.

And now, those who have done more than any others to help make the south of Leeds a better place to live are to be recognised with the Outer South Community Heroes Awards.

As part of the celebration event, Leeds City Council’s Outer South Area Committee wants to recognise the achievements of individuals who have made a considerable contribution to improving their local community as part of a Tenants and Residents Association.

Residents have nominated fellow volunteers who will be presented on the evening with an Outer South Community Heroes certificate. The event is due to take place at Rodillian High School in Rothwell on 9th September from 6pm to 8pm and will be an invitation only event.

People from across Leeds are to be encouraged to give up their time for free next year as 2010 is declared a ‘Year of Volunteering’ by Leeds City Council. It is hoped the winners of the Heroes Awards will inspire others to get involved over the 12 months.

The event will be opened by Councillor Terry Grayshon, who is Chair of the Outer South Area Committee, who will also present residents with an awards certificate. The Outer South Area covers the Morley North, Morley South, Ardsley and Robin Hood, and Rothwell wards.

It will give residents the opportunity to network and also go around information stalls from organisations such as South East Area Management, Leeds Tenants Federation, Aire Valley Homes, Ground Work, and Health For All.

Councillor Terry Grayshon, chair of Leeds City Council’s Outer South Area Committee, said:
“Communities and neighbourhoods don’t just happen of their own accord – they have to be worked at.
“This event is intended to celebrate those unsung heroes from our communities who work day in and day out to make this area a better place in which to live.
“I look forward to celebrating all that is best about our area with the award winners.”

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.
About South and East Area Management
The Outer East Area Committee covers the Temple Newsam, Crossgates and Winmoor, Garforth and Swillington, and Kippax and Methley wards.
The Inner South Area Committee covers the Middleton Park, Beeston and Holbeck, and City and Hunslet wards.
The Outer South Area Committee covers the Morley North, Morley South, Ardsley and Robin Hood, and Rothwell wards.

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

You Choose for Wood Lane!

Would you know what you’d spend £15,000 on?

That’s what people living on the Wood Lane Estate in Rothwell are being asked – with a special project planned for their area that will give them a direct say in how the money is spent.

The ''You Choose for Wood Lane'' Participatory Budgeting Project has £15,000 available to spend on improving the neighbourhood.

Supported by Leeds City Council’s Outer South Area Committee and Aire Valley Homes, Participatory Budgeting is a way of getting local communities involved with decision making in their communities, to spend public money in their area on community focussed projects.

The first meeting, where residents can find out more about the project, will take place on Monday 7th September at 7pm at the Rose Farm Children's centre in Rothwell.

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.
About South East Area Management
The Outer East Area Committee covers the Temple Newsam, Crossgates and Winmoor, Garforth and Swillington, and Kippax and Methley wards.
The Inner South Area Committee covers the Middleton Park, Beeston and Holbeck, and City and Hunslet wards.
The Outer South Area Committee covers the Morley North, Morley South, Ardsley and Robin Hood, and Rothwell wards.

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