Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Leeds City Museum enjoys stunning first year

Caption: Leeds City Museum has proved hugely popular

Leeds City Museum has established itself as one of the leading visitor attractions in the region after enjoying a hugely successful first 12 months.

As the £20m venue in the former Civic Institute Building off Millennium Square prepares for its first birthday celebrations this weekend, it can look back on an amazing first year which has seen over 285,000 people come through its doors.

The eagerly-awaited new venue opened to the public on Saturday 13th September 2008, the day after HRH The Countess of Wessex paid a visit for a guided tour of the latest major attraction in Leeds. Such was the interest in the museum that almost 6,000 people visited in the first weekend alone.

Inside they were met by a stunning series of galleries set on four floors looking at Life on Earth, the Leeds Story, Ancient Worlds, Leeds Collectors and The World View, enhanced by a range of interactives and audio-visual displays. There was also a vast central Leeds Arena, featuring a giant floor map of the city, and a special exhibitions gallery which over the last 12 months has played host to creepy crawlies, a world premiere of historic photos by legendary photographer Marc Riboud and the current ‘Game of Two Halves’ football exhibition featuring the oldest-surviving version of the FA Cup.

Among the exhibits on show for free in the museum included the famous ‘Leeds Tiger’, the mummy Nesyamun, a polar bear, the statue of Circe and the full skeleton of a Giant Irish Elk.

Visitors flocked to the museum in such numbers that 35,000 visited in the first month – more than for a whole year at the previous Leeds City Museum which closed in 1999. The figure reached 100,000 in less than three months, and before four months had passed the figure had already gone beyond the projected figure of 120,000 expected for the whole of the first year!

The numbers have continued to rise in impressive fashion so that in its first 12 months the figure of over 285,000 is well over double that which was predicted. The figure also means it is on a par with other major attractions in Yorkshire like the Royal Armouries and the Weston Park museum in Sheffield, making it one of the top 10 attractions in the region and one of the leading regional museums in the country.

The excellence of Leeds City Museum has already been officially recognised in the form of two major achievements. The first came in May when it scooped the Reader’s Award for Best Museum at the prestigious national Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence – dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the museum world. The second followed last month, when it was granted national accreditation from the Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) for its high standards of service.

Reflecting on the first 12 months of the museum, Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“The Leeds City Museum has been an incredible success story for the city, even more successful than any of us could possibly have hoped or imagined.

“It took a tremendous amount of hard work and effort from a team of people pulling together to make it happen, and the response from the public who continue to flock to the museum month after month shows it was a job exceptionally well done.

“The Leeds City Museum has already established itself as one of the leading visitor attractions in the region and the country as a whole, and we are very proud of the fact that it is free for anyone to visit. The first year really couldn’t have gone any better, so here’s to that success continuing next year and beyond.”

Up until September 11th 2009, there is a chance for the people of Leeds to vote for Leeds City Museum as the most family-friendly museum in the country as part of the prestigious Guardian Award. To vote for Leeds City Museum email For further information about the award visit:

Notes to editors:

The majority of the finance for the £20m Leeds City Museum project - plus the accompanying £6m Discovery Centre which houses the city’s museums collection and opened in 2007 at Clarence Dock - came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which covered 75% of the overall cost. Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Forward were the other main funders.

For details about exhibitions, opening times and other information about the museum go to It is open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Mondays.


Leeds City Museum enjoys its first birthday on Sunday 13th September. Here are the highlights and key milestones from a packed first 12 months:

September 13th 2008: The eagerly-awaited new £20m Leeds City Museum opens at the former Civic Institute off Millennium Square. The museum was officially visited by HRH The Countess of Wessex the previous day and almost 6,000 people flock to see it on its opening weekend.

October 2008: Nearly 35,000 people visit the museum in its first month. This is already more visitors than the previous Leeds City Museum which closed in 1999 attracted in a whole year!

November 2008: Visitors numbers now beyond 60,000. Special new Leeds version of the classic boardgame ‘Monopoly’ is officially launched in the museum.

December 2008: Leeds City Museum breaks the 100.000-visitor mark in just three months, putting it on a par with the Royal Armouries in Leeds and the Weston Park museum in Sheffield among the most popular regional museums in the country.

January 2009: World premiere of exhibition “A Lasting Moment” featuring unseen archive photos of Leeds taken by celebrated French photographer Marc Riboud over 50 years before begins in the museum.

February 2009: ‘Rory’s Saturday Club’ is launched for young people and families hosted by museum mascot ‘Rory the Tiger’. Weekly activities club attracts over 600 young people in first six months.

March 2009: Visitor figures go through the 150,000-mark. This is already significantly more than the projected figures for the whole of the first year. Museum hosts ‘Faith in the City’, a major celebration of faith and diversity in Leeds

April 2009: Leeds City Museum plays host to 100 saxophonists led by celebrated performer Andy Sheppard as part of the fuseleeds09 music festival. Visitor figures reach 200,000 in just eight months.

May 2009: Leeds City Museum claims its first major award after scooping the Reader’s Award for Best Museum at the prestigious national Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence – dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the museum world.

June 2009: Special exhibition of images by Marc Riboud comes to a close after attracting over 14,000 visitors during its six-month run.

July 2009: Leeds United legends Norman Hunter and Brendan Ormsby officially open new football exhibition ‘A Game of Two Halves’ at the museum. The exhibition features the history of the FA Cup and Leeds United FC. Among the items on display is the oldest-surviving version of the FA Cup which dates back to 1896. Visitor figures for the museum reach 250,000.

August 2009: Members of the Australia Test cricket team visit a special Ashes exhibition in the museum ahead of the Fourth Test against England at Headingley. Suitably inspired, they destroy England in the match inside three days! Museum also given national accreditation by the Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) for its high standards of service, and rare first-edition of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” goes on display.

September 13th 2009: Leeds City Museum marks first birthday with a weekend of celebrations. Over 285,000 people have visited the museum in just 12 months.


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

Council secures £3.5 million for Leeds council housing

Leeds City Council has secured a £3million grant towards a multi-million council housing scheme in Leeds

Today, the Housing Minister, John Healey, announced that over £127m has been made available in a national grant in the first phase of funding for 47 local authorities to develop council housing in England for the first time in 20 years. Leeds has got £3.5million to build 63 family council houses in a housing scheme in the east and south east of the city.

Leeds City Council executive member for housing, Councillor Les Carter, said:
“This is good news for Leeds and shows that we are top of the list when it comes to bringing in investment and funding for housing into the city. However, there is still a long way to go towards reducing the city’s housing waiting list and nationally this is a very small amount.

“The council has committed over £3million and land towards this scheme and given that that we do have further bids for council house funding in the pipeline, we hope that the Government will continue this commitment to improving council housing in Leeds.”

The £3.5m grant, from the Homes and Communities Agency comes on top of £25m which Leeds secured from the agency recently to provide additional affordable accommodation on a range of council owned sites across Leeds.

The announcement today means that as a percentage of the population Leeds would have expected a 1% share of this funding but has in fact secured 3%. And within the Yorkshire and Humber Region, local authorities have attracted the highest proportion of the grant for 453 dwellings.

Within Leeds, the 63 units of family accommodation will be developed on the sites within the East and South East Leeds (EASEL) regeneration area attracting over £3m of grant against a total scheme cost of £6.6m, with the remainder being funded by the local authority. The developments will be on site by March 2010.

The council is also working to develop a further bid to secure additional funding for the council house building programme. The Homes and Communites Agency has asked for bids be submitted by the end of October.

Leeds has also explored the Government’s ‘Kickstart’ programme which provides money to get stalled private developments back on track; £37m worth of bids have been approved under the first stage and are through to the next round. Announcements of the successful bids will be made before the end of the year.

The council has also secured approval to take part in the latest bidding round for PFI credits for ‘ Lifetime Neighbourhoods for Leeds’ which aims to deliver around 700 new homes for families and older people across the city.

Leeds has rapidly become the number one housing city with a range of initiatives and schemes underway to increase the provision of affordable housing.


For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office(0113) 224 3602

Watchdog’s concern over renal services in Leeds

A council watchdog has expressed concern about a delay in information from health bosses about the status of renal services in Leeds.

The move follows proposals put forward in July by health managers to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Board to axe plans for a long-awaited kidney dialysis unit at the Leeds General Infirmary.

In August, Leeds City Council’s Scrutiny Board for Health asked the Trust for more information on why proposals to axe the plans for an additional kidney dialysis unit had been put forward and why the Scrutiny Board had not been more closely involved and informed.

In particular, the Scrutiny Board wanted to know more about the consultation and involvement of patients in helping to formulate the proposals and also how the assessment of clinical need had changed since the decision to provide a dialysis unit at the LGI had been formally agreed in November 2007.

The Scrutiny Board also wants to know how dialysis provision, which is only one part of renal replacement therapy, fitted into what is not just a local service, but a regionally commissioned service.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Chair of the Health Scrutiny Board, said:

“I am determined to ensure that this important matter does not drift unnecessarily. It is vitally important that the Scrutiny Board is given the opportunity to consider the additional information requested, without being constrained by unreasonable and unrealistic deadlines before the Trust Board reconsiders the management proposals. I have written to the Chief Executive expressing my concern and look forward to getting the additional details we have asked for very soon.

“The commissioners have said that we already have sufficient capacity for the treatment of renal patients in the short and longer-term. However, if we look at recent meetings of the commissioners, we can see that as recently as May and June of this year, there have been reports of ‘significant service pressures across Yorkshire and the Humber’. While the position was reported to have improved between May and June, Leeds was specifically identified at both meetings as experiencing particular problems.”

In September 2008, health bosses across Yorkshire and the Humber agreed to establish a renal network, supported by three implementation groups, to develop an overall strategy for the delivery of renal services across region. The Scrutiny Board has also written to the commissioner requesting that any records of decisions taken at the network meetings are made publicly available in order to increase transparency and accountability.
Notes to Editor

Relevant extracts from minutes from the meetings of the Specialised Commissioning Group (Yorkshire and the Humber) are included below.

The Specialised Commissioning Group (Yorkshire and the Humber) is a permanent Joint Committee of, and acts on behalf of, all the Primary Care Trusts in the Yorkshire & the Humber Strategic Health Authority area, of which there are 14. More information can be found on the SCG website at:


For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office(0113) 224 3602



18 January 2008
10 Renal Services

The SCG noted the receipt of two national letters – one to SCGs and one to SHAs – relating to the urgent need to develop capacity for renal dialysis.

A briefing note, circulated with the agenda identified all the action currently in progress in Yorkshire and the Humber to expand dialysis capacity and to develop robust capacity expansion plans.

It was noted that the effectiveness of the Renal Network in the north of the patch would need to be reviewed as a matter of urgency with any new arrangements being implemented as soon as possible.
Mike Potts/
Janet Soo Chung/
Amanda Forrest
Friday, 19 September 2008
3(b) Commissioning of Renal Services

Amanda Forrest introduced the paper which set out the need to implement revised arrangements for the commissioning of renal services.

The review of clinical networks had identified the need for change particularly in the light of the scale of agenda facing renal services from both a national and local perspective.

It was proposed that in future there would be a single Yorkshire & the Humber wide renal strategy produced by a single renal strategic group, supported by three local implementation groups. This would achieve a coherent strategic perspective across the SCG and enable the engagement of local clinicians, local patients and local commissioners.

It was recognised that there may be some concerns about the new arrangements, particularly in the clinical community and that these would require clear communication and support.

This paper would also be considered by the current renal strategy group covering the north of the SCG on 26th September.

The SCG agreed in principle to support the proposed network and local implementation groups. It was agreed that it would be important to link this development into the further discussions about the sub regional arrangements and for the use of consistent terminology in describing the role and purpose of the new groups.

Cathy Edwards/
Amanda Forrest

17 October 2008
2(e) Matters arising

Renal Services Network

A meeting had been arranged for week commencing 20 October to finalise the new arrangements and to agree the implementation process.

15 May 2009
10(a) Any other business

Acute Renal Dialysis Service

Cathy Edwards tabled a paper describing the significant service pressures currently being faced by the acute renal dialysis services across Yorkshire & the Humber. The services in both Leeds and Hull were currently only able to take admissions from their local area.

This was creating difficulties in some localities with admissions needing to be diverted to other providers.

The common theme across the providers facing problems, was a shortage of trained, specialised nursing staff.

The Specialised Commissioning Team was constantly monitoring the position. This work would continue and further information would be sought about each Trust’s contingency plan.

The Renal Network would be considering the overall position and looking at ways of improving the position in the longer term.

Jackie Parr
19 June 2009
14(a) Renal Services

Acute Renal Dialysis – Update

Cathy Edwards presented an update on the issues affecting acute renal dialysis services. The position had improved since the last meeting with four of the six centres now open to acute admissions without restriction. Leeds and York were still restricting admissions to their own local area.

The primary factor affecting the centres ability to take admissions was shortfalls in nurse staffing.

The Renal Network would be addressing the workforce issues identified.

Jackie Parr
14(b) Renal Services

Satellite Renal Haemodialysis Services in Leeds

It was noted that the Trust were considering a change in their plans for the future location of satellite dialysis units in Leeds. This may result in adverse reactions from individual/patient groups.

17 July 2009
11 Renal Services

The SCG received an update on the plans for renal dialysis services in Leeds. It was noted that the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust Board would be receiving the report on 25 July setting out that dialysis care would not be returning to the Leeds General Infirmary site as originally envisaged.

Concerns had been raised by some patients about the change in plan and the issue was now a priority agenda item for the City Council Health and Scrutiny Board. Commissioner (PCT and SCG) and Trust representatives would be attending the Leeds Health Scrutiny Board meeting on 28 July.

The update was noted.