Thursday, 15 October 2009

SMG Europe signs 25-year lease agreement for the Leeds Arena

SMG Europe, the world class operators selected to run the Leeds Arena will sign a lease agreement with Leeds City Council next week (Monday 19 October) providing the council with a guaranteed 25-year rental payment for the venue.

The signing of the agreement confirms SMG as tenant operating the venue, and the council as the landlord owning the building. It follows Leeds City Council’s announcement that it is to press ahead with the scheme despite government delays with the provision of Yorkshire Forward funding for the project. In addition a recent on-line survey and public consultation on the project generated an overwhelming response with over 90% of people stating that they supported the arena.

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What: John Sutherland, managing director of SMG Europe and Cllr Andrew Carter sign the lease agreement. A 4mx3m exhibition stand and light-up model of the Arena will also be available for background shots.

Where and when: Monday, 19 October at Leeds Civic Hall antechamber at 12.30pm.
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The super-theatre style Leeds Arena is expected to generate £25.5 million a year for the local economy and will bring 450 jobs to the city. With the venue to host some 110 world class entertainment events per year, it will also be a huge boost to the city’s national and international profile and help regenerate and draw investment in to the city centre gateway site.

Councillor Andrew Carter, Leeds City Council executive board member responsible for the development of the arena, said:

“SMG are world class arena operators and the signing of the lease agreement is an important step forward in the scheme’s progress and underlines the company’s commitment to the project. We are delighted to have them on board.

“It is clear that once delivered, the Leeds Arena will be a huge success and a massive boost to the city economically and culturally, creating jobs and attracting investment and tourism to the wider city region. Our survey shows that there is overwhelming support for this project and the council is determined to deliver this for the people of Leeds.”

John Sutherland, managing director of SMG Europe said:

"SMG operates over 200 venues worldwide, and is the largest operator of arenas in Europe. All our experience and research tells us that Leeds will be one of the most successful venues in our portfolio. I am excited by the innovative design and believe the new arena will really put Leeds back on the international entertainment stage."

Progress on the development is moving quickly. The former university building on the city centre site has now been demolished and cleared for construction and the multi-disciplinary design team have now begun the detailed designs for the building which will have a ‘super-theatre’ style layout giving customers the best arena experience in the country.

An outline planning application has been submitted to the council for an informal review before it is formally submitted on the 30 October 2009 and first stage tenders to short-listed construction contractors are due to be dispatched on the 22 October 2009.

On Wednesday, 14 October, at the council’s executive board meeting, council chiefs agreed an alternative funding plan for the scheme in case the Government does not give the go-ahead to Yorkshire Forward’s proposals provide £18m for the development. At the meeting, while the details of the alternative funding package were confidential, councillors confirmed that the package did not involve the council increasing its borrowing for the scheme.

The significant progress on the scheme to date means that work is still on track to start on site before the end of 2010 with the venue expected to open for business in late 2012.

Notes to editors:

SMG Europe was appointed as the preferred operator for the arena in May 2008. SMG is the largest operator of sports and entertainment venues in Europe, including Manchester Evening News Arena and Bridgewater Hall, the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, and Oslo Spektrum. SMG has considerable industry knowledge and has largely defined the optimum internal design of the arena.

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

Arena to boost jobs in Leeds

With tenders for the construction contract for the Leeds Arena due out next week, the council are outlining the boost to the local construction industry that the scheme will provide.

The arena, which will be located on Claypit Lane in Leeds, is forecast to protect more than 100 jobs in the local construction industry. In addition to this, the £55m construction will create an extra 100 jobs for local residents and potentially 90 apprenticeships.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive member responsible for the development of the Leeds Arena said:
“The development sector in Leeds has taken quite a few knocks recently, with a number of high profile projects being put on hold or cancelled. As a council, we will work hard to ensure that the economic and social impact of the Leeds Arena is maximised when our economy needs it most.”

Rob Wolfe of Construction Leeds said:
“This approach in securing a building contractor for the arena will provide a real boost to the construction sector in Leeds and give confidence to local residents about future job and training opportunities.”

Additional info

During the tendering process, the council will seek clear commitments from contractors about the employment and training opportunities that they will provide, and will set clear performance targets for this. Contractors will also have the option to work with support organisations such as Construction Leeds to deliver their plans.

Demolition of the Brunswick building is now complete and construction work on the Leeds Arena is currently scheduled to start late 2010, with the 12,500 super-theatre arena due to open late 2012. Once open and operational, the Arena will bring 450 jobs to the city.

Construction Leeds helps the private, public and voluntary sectors work together to address employment issues, training needs and business development in the construction industry. They also support major construction developments within the city to ensure they make a real difference to the residents and businesses that surround them.

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

Leeds Film Festival over the Moon with special guest

Caption: Julian Barratt

Self proclaimed ‘Jazz maverick’ Howard Moon aka Julian Barratt one half of the Mighty Boosh double act will be returning to his home town this November as a special guest at the Leeds International Film Festival.

The full programme for the North’s biggest film festival, presented by Leeds City Council, has been announced for this year with big films including big names such as the Coen Brothers, Mighty Boosh and George Clooney all on the list.

Mighty Boosh star Julian Barratt will be appearing on 8th November at Leeds Town Hall as it showcases a trio of great new films that he has been involved in recently. Journey of the Childmen, is a new documentary capturing the roller coaster ride of the huge 110 show Mighty Boosh tour, Bunny and the Bull, the first feature from Mighty Boosh director Paul King where Julian has a cameo role and a brilliant black comedy short Curtains, that he has co-written and directed.

Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) 2009 will offer some of its biggest titles at Leeds Town Hall this year, starting with the already announced double opener on Wednesday 4th November with George Clooney in the acclaimed satire The Men Who Stare at Goats and Jane Campion’s Bright Star, a favourite at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

On Friday 6th November, Paul Giamatti stars as himself in the wonderfully deadpan comedy drama Cold Souls, and Fanomenon 2009 opens with the World Premiere of French-Canadian horror 5150 Ems Way.

On Saturday 7th November, the mammoth Day of the Dead III takes over Leeds Town Hall while it will be a day of great comedy on Sunday 8th November. Headlined by an exclusive screening of A Serious Man, the brilliant new film by LIFF-favourite the Coen Brothers, the day also includes the intensely edgy British comedy thriller Crying with Laughter, about a controversial and confrontational stand-up comic and a double treat for all Mighty Boosh fans.

The Film Festival guide is now available at various sites across West Yorkshire and also online at . But with only a few days left to buy the great value Early Bird Passes it is worth getting your foot in the door now, as closing date for the pass is Tuesday 21st October.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“The newly announced line-up is very impressive, and yet again the Film Festival is going to be the biggest and best film event in North with some great names on the line-up.”

Chris Fell, Director of Leeds International Film Festival said:
“The Film Festival wants to bring the best films of the year to as many people in Leeds as possible, and the huge venue of Leeds Town Hall allows us to do this. Featuring world premieres, major film events and many special guests, the Film Festival at Leeds Town Hall this year will be an unforgettable experience for 1000s of Leeds film fans.”

The 23rd Leeds International Film Festival will run from 4th to 22nd November and is presented by Leeds City Council and supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and Screen Yorkshire, with lead sponsors Northern Rail, Vue Cinemas, ancnoc whiskey, and City Inn Hotels.

Individual tickets for screenings at all LIFF 09 venues are on sale as of Friday 9th October, online at, and through City Centre Box Office at The Carriageworks (0113 247 8389). The Film Festival Pass is available at the early bird rate of £70 (double £120) until Tuesday 21st October (when prices rise to £90 and £160). The Pass gives access to all individual screenings subject to ticket availability, with the exclusion of Thought Bubble and Fanomenon horror marathons.

For more information on the film festival visit the website at or become a Film Festival Fan on Facebook ( or join us on Twitter (

Notes to editors:

The following are the collection points for the festival guide across the City.

From 6pm on Friday 9th October
Leeds City Centre Box Office at The Carriageworks
Hyde Park Picture House
Information desk at The Light Shopping Centre
Leeds Town Hall (at side reception)
A Nation of Shopkeepers, bar on Cookridge Street
Brewery Tap, bar across from the taxi rank queue at Leeds Train Station
7 Arts, Chapel Allerton

From 1pm on Saturday 10th October
Leeds Tourist Information Centre at Leeds Train Station
Crash Records on The Headrow
Dare Café in Headingley
Jumbo Records in the St John’s Centre
North Bar, bar on New Briggate, Leeds City Centre
Travelling Man, Central Road, Leeds City Centre
Halifax Visitor Centre and Art Gallery at The Piece Hall
Hebden Bridge Tourist Information Centre
Huddersfield Tourist Information Centre on Albion Street
Love Apple Café, Bradford
Impressions Gallery, Bradford

From 4pm on Saturday 10th October
Harrogate Tourist Information Centre
Haworth Tourist Information Centre
Ilkley Tourist Information Centre
Skipton Tourist Information Centre


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

Councillor’s optimism about possible end to bin strike

The councillor in charge of Leeds City Council says he’s ‘optimistic’ that a strike, which has been affecting street cleaning and refuse collection services, could be over soon.

Richard Brett made the comments after another day of talks, involving council and union representatives, ended with the agreement that details of a council deal to potentially end the industrial action would be shared with the workforce.

Staff, working for the Leeds’ street scene and refuse collection teams, walked out on September 7th causing widespread disruption to services across the city.

Workers are unhappy that some of their colleagues stand to lose out as the result of a pay and grading process that the council has been going through.

Since the beginning of last week, both sides have been involved in talks to try and find a way of resolving the dispute.

Yesterday, the council, GMB and Unison, discussed a package of measures, which the council hopes will be sufficient to bring an end to the current dispute.

The unions have asked for clarification on a number of issues, but have agreed to explain the council’s proposals to their members.

Cllr Richard Brett, council leader, said:

“I believe we now have a proposal on the table which is good for our staff as well as the people of Leeds.

“I sincerely hope that street scene and refuse collection staff agree, so that we can get back to the business of providing essential services to the people of Leeds.”

“It goes without saying that the strike is causing a great deal of disruption to services and I thank residents for their patience during what has been a testing time.”


For media enquiries, please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 0393


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