Monday, 28 September 2009

Civic honour for new Leeds world champions


Caption: New World Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee (right) with his younger brother and European Junior Champion Jonathan

Two newly-crowned world champions who are based in Leeds will be officially honoured by the city at a civic reception this week.

World Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee and World Squirt Kayak Champion Claire O’Hara will be the guests of honour at a special event hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Elliott to recognise their achievements at Civic Hall at 5.15pm on Wednesday 30th September.

Alistair made national headlines earlier this month when he won his fifth consecutive World Series Triathlon event on Australia’s Gold Coast to secure the overall title of 2009 World Champion. The 21-year-old, who graduated from the University of Leeds this summer and trains at Leeds Metropolitan University, in the process became the first man ever to have been crowned World Triathlon Champion at junior, under-23 and senior level.

Claire also claimed gold glory earlier this month, becoming world champion in squirt kayaking at the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships held in Thun in Switzerland. The 27-year-old from Meanwood, who is also the current British and European champion, triumphed in the discipline which uses special smaller and lighter kayaks which are designed to lie almost vertical in the water to allow for great manoeuvrability than standard kayaks and when being used have approximately 80% of the boat underwater.

Also being honoured at the reception will be Alistair’s younger brother Jonathan Brownlee. The 19-year-old, who studies at the University of Leeds and trains at Leeds Metropolitan University, is on course to follow Alistair’s path to the top after winning the European Junior Triathlon Championship in Holland in July and finishing second in the World Junior Championships in Australia the day after his elder brother’s victory in the senior event.

Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Elliott said:

“We are delighted to be honouring these three fantastic athletes and saying well done to them on their wonderful successes on behalf of the city. Sporting achievement in Leeds is going from strength to strength at the moment and it is all looking very exciting as we look towards the 2012 Olympic Games in London and even more success for athletes from our city.”

Apart from the athletes, the reception will also see recognition given to the vital contribution made by the coaches who train the Brownlee brothers. Leeds Metropolitan University’s Carnegie Director of Sport Malcolm Brown and High Performance Triathlon Coach Jack Maitland will both be in attendance to have their efforts in the brothers’ success recognised.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Richard Brett said:

“Leeds continues to prove itself as a major hotbed of rising sporting talent in the country and the success of Alistair, Claire and Jonathan when added to that of our junior divers, swimmers, gymnasts and badminton players should be a real source of pride for the city.

“We look forward to congratulating these three great athletes on their achievements and also praising their coaches for their dedication in helping these athletes realise their potential and reach the very top.”

ENDS

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

Calling all young artists – 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering art competition

Children and young people across the city of Leeds are being asked to design pictures to illustrate the ten themes of the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering.

Every school and youth organisation in the city has been invited to take part in an art competition to find a picture to represent each of ten volunteering themes.

The competition is part of a year long programme of activities to increase awareness of volunteering, promote more volunteering opportunities and recognise and celebrate the valued contribution volunteers make to society. The pictures will be used to publicise the programme throughout the city.

Volunteering provides many benefits to individuals and communities in Leeds. It helps to unlock talent and creativity at all ages and gives people the chance to develop skills and confidence that can be transferred to other areas of their lives, as well as helping them to develop a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood and community.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of the council, said:
“2010 is our opportunity to celebrate and promote volunteering in Leeds, and the art competition offers a unique opportunity for children and young people to get involved.

“There is already an amazing amount of good work going on across the city with many people donating several hours of their time each year.

“By making 2010 our Leeds Year of Volunteering, we are hoping to highlight the benefits of volunteering to individuals and communities, and encourage even more people to get involved.

“We look forward to receiving lots of competition entries and celebrating the talent and creativity of children and young people across Leeds.”

Any child or young person linked to a school or youth organisation in Leeds can enter the competition. They need to design a piece of flat artwork (A4 landscape format) that represents one of the 10 volunteering themes to be celebrated throughout the year.

All entries must be received by 23 October 2009. They should be sent to Volunteering Competition, Civic Hall, 2 Floor East, Leeds, LS1 1UR.

For each theme, the winning artist will receive a £50 voucher. The school or youth organisation will also receive a prize.

For an information pack please email leedsstrategicplan@leeds.gov.uk
or phone 0113 224 3462.

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Additional info

The 10 volunteering themes are:
 volunteering for health;
 volunteering in every neighbourhood;
 volunteering across the generations;
 volunteering literacy and learning;
 valuing volunteering in Leeds;
 volunteering for leisure-sports, arts and culture;
 volunteering and environment, parks and wildlife;
 volunteering for a safer Leeds;
 volunteering for all and children; and
 young people’s volunteering month.

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

Kippax leisure centre pool closed for building inspection

Leeds City Council today announced the swimming pool at Kippax Leisure Centre

A Leeds City Council Spokesman said:
“We have taken the decision to close the pool temporarily as a precautionary measure to enable us to carry out checks on the ceiling.

“The rest of the leisure centre remains open, and we apologise for any inconvenience cause to people.

“We will do our best to re-open the pool as soon as possible.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
John Donegan, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 247 4450
email John.Donegan@leeds.gov.uk

Inquiry launched into transport planning in Leeds

A council watchdog is to begin an inquiry into transport planning in Leeds.

Members of the Leeds City Council Scrutiny Board (City and Regional Partnerships) want to look at how arrangements for delivering better transport services in Leeds can be improved and developed.

They will scrutinise the way in which the needs of Leeds and its citizens are served by existing strategic transport arrangements and the impact of the Local Transport Act 2008. They will also look at how the powers of the newly established Integrated Transport Authority will be used to further the city’s transport objectives.

Governance arrangements at each level of transport planning will also be scrutinised to ensure there is adequate political representation for the city.

Councillor Steve Smith, Chair of the Scrutiny Board, said:

“Improving transport connectivity in and around Leeds is crucial to the city’s economic development and it is clearly vital that the needs of the city are appropriately represented in transport strategies.

“We shall be looking very carefully at the way in which the needs of Leeds and its citizens are served by existing strategic transport arrangements at city and regional level and whether improvements are needed.”

The Inquiry into integrated transport strategies for Leeds and the wider region, will be held in three sessions, the first beginning on the 8 October, will focus on:

• The governance arrangements for transport strategy within West Yorkshire, in the Leeds City Region and more widely, and the way in which the needs of the people of Leeds are represented at each level.
• The recently announced forerunner status for the city region.
• The key priorities for local and regional transport as set out in the existing strategies, and the way in which these complement and interact with one another.

Sessions two and three will be held on dates to be confirmed. The second session will focus on the role of the ITA and the final session, the conclusions and recommendations of the inquiry.
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Notes to Editors:


A copy of the full terms of reference for the Inquiry for into integrated transport strategies for Leeds and the wider region is attached. The meeting on the 8 October will be held at Leeds Civic Hall at 10am.
Ends
For media enquiries please contact:

Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office(0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.uk

Council lifeline for hospices

Council chiefs have approved a local amendment to revise guidance for discretionary rate relief to help hospices in the city.

Advice from the Valuation Office states that hospices will now be expected to pay business rates instead of council tax. They will qualify for 80% mandatory charity relief, but will still face a bill for the remaining 20%. Leeds council previously had an arrangement in place with the three hospices in the city to meet the full cost of their council tax bill.

To help overcome this extra financial burden, the council have agreed that the Leeds based hospices can apply for additional relief.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader and executive board member with responsibility for financial services said:
“Hospices provide vital care and support to people with short life expectancies and their families, and depend largely on the generosity of the public for their funding.

“This amendment to the discretionary rate relief guidance will allow us to continue to support them so that they can concentrate on offering these vital services to the people of Leeds.”

ENDS

Additional info
The council are also able to provide advice and assistance to local projects or companies that are struggling to continue to trade in the current economic climate. For more information please phone 0113 247 6983.

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

Unions challenged to ‘show commitment to modernising services in Leeds’

The leader of Leeds City Council is challenging striking refuse workers to ‘show their commitment to modernising their service’ as industrial action across the city enters a fourth week.

 

Cllr Richard Brett says he’s still prepared to meet with union leaders to discuss ways of resolving the dispute by agreeing required improvements and efficiencies.

 

Staff who work for the council’s street scene and refuse collection service walked out on  7 September causing unnecessary disruption to thousands of residents.

 

Unions claim their members will lose as much as £6000 as a result of a pay and grading process which the council – and all local authorities – are going through.

 

But – this figure is highly misleading.

 

While – regrettably – some workers are theoretically worse off at the end of this process, the greatest loss in basic pay is actually £4491 and the average is less than £3000.  However, salaries won’t change until January 2011 because of pay protection.

 

At the same time, a number of their colleagues are actually benefiting from the pay and grading process.  78 members of staff have been given a collective pay rise which is costing the council £118,252.

 

Of those, night workers will get the biggest raise of £2880; the salary of 25 drivers will go up by £1372 and another 24 will rise by £1526.

 

That means the average increase for staff getting a raise is £1516.

 

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Richard Brett said:

 

“The reason for this strike is complex – a lot has been said over the last three weeks – and there is still a great deal of misunderstanding.

 

“It goes without saying that no-one wants hard working people to lose out financially – but the union’s solution to this issue is an absolute non-starter.

 

“They would prefer we just give everyone a raise so there are no losers. That’s easy to say, but not deliverable.  It would cost around £45 million, which is the equivalent of an 18 per cent increase to council tax bills.

 

“But there could be a solution if we secure service improvements and efficiencies.”

 

Unfortunately Leeds has a very inefficient and costly refuse collection service.

 

Staff take an average of 30 days sickness per year which is three to four times higher than what the council would expect.

 

Overall collection rates are 20 per cent less efficient than the average local authority refuse collection service and there are costly and unfair shift arrangements.  For instance, some collectors finish at 1300 while others have to work until 1600.  The council considers it wholly inappropriate that this is down to the arrangement of routes, not how fast collectors work.

 

Councillor Brett continued:

 

“These are the reasons why the council is exploring whether a private company could help us deliver the efficiencies and productivity increases we need.

 

“It’s a process called market testing.

 

“By doing this I hoped the unions would work with us to agree to a package of modernisation arrangements – but it seems that’s not the case as they inappropriately continue to link modernisation to the equal pay issue.

 

“I am committed to trying to find a resolution, but it is my responsibility as leader of the council to ensure that the residents of Leeds get a cost effective refuse collection service.

 

"I do have sympathy with the strikers and their families and would urge them to come back to work so that we can continue negotiations about the potential for addressing the pay gap and modernising the service.

 

“The current stalemate isn’t any good for anyone."

 

"In the meantime, my colleagues and I are committed to providing the best service possible.

 

“Unfortunately, I am unable to guarantee everything will be 100 per cent back to normal so I do ask residents to bear with us during this challenging time".

 

 

Posted via web from Leeds City Council

Tag Rugby festival touches down at Headingley Carnegie Stadium

Three hundred children from across the UK will be dummy passing their way to tries at this year’s National Disability TAG Rugby festival on Tuesday 29th September.

Organised by Leeds City Council’s Sport Development Unit, and supported by both the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL) the festival will take place at the home of Leeds Rugby, Headingley Carnegie Stadium. The event will comprise of teams made up of seven people and up to three substitutes. There will be 30 teams competing throughout the day from across the UK.

The Leeds Rhinos and the mascots from both Rugby League and Union teams have been invited down on the day with Super League match officials to referee the games along with RFL Scholarship referees.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“It is great to see all these children getting involved in such a great sport. The game is a great way of keeping fit and healthy and this festival is a fantastic way to ensure that sport is accessible to everyone”

The event is aimed at ambulant players with a learning disability and or moderate physical or sensory impairment.

Tag Rugby uses a minimal contact version of rugby, excluding scrums, line-outs or tackling. Tackles are made by removing one of the Velcro ‘tags’ attached to each player’s belt and the game requires a lot of skill.

The festival aims to promote both codes involved in rugby union and rugby league as well as national disabled sport.

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