Thursday, 22 October 2009

Youngsters to plant the roots of the future

Picture caption: Councillor John Procter with school children from St James's C of E school

This autumn Leeds City Council are getting youngsters involved collecting seeds from local trees which will then be planted back into the local landscape in the future.

Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside staff will be leading free woodland seed gathering events for Leeds Primary Schools across the City. The projects will involve youngsters in the collection of the seeds, right through to the growth of young seedlings and the final planting stage in schools and around the local landscape of Leeds.

Three school groups will be able to take part in each organised day, each completing a seed collection walk led by an expert in woodland habitats, and participating in a seed preparation workshop and environmental games.

As part of their day, children and staff will join the Parks and Countryside Rangers to learn how to prepare their collected tree seed for sowing, and be told how to care for the young seedlings right up to the time of planting. They will also be able to take some planted seeds away with them to continue to grow on in the classroom.

The Parks and Countryside Rangers will also be running environmental activities and games that will help to reinforce what the children have learned and bring an enjoyable end to the session. The educational games and activities have been designed to aid understanding of the natural processes happening in the woodlands and link in well with the National Curriculum.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“It is great for youngsters across the city to become involved in this type of event. It is a fun occasion as well as being educational. This type of event lets the young people get involved with something that will have real cultural and historical significance for the schools involved, and also the local communities who will benefit from the trees as they mature.”

Notes to editors:

Various seed gathering events will be happening across Leeds over the next couple of months:
Chevin Forest Park Tuesday 13th October
Middleton Park Wednesday 14th October
Temple Newsam Thursday 15th October
Roundhay Park Tuesday 20th October
Wetherby Triangle (Harland Way) Wednesday 21st October
Bramley Fall Woods Thursday 22nd October
Calverley Woods Tuesday 3rd November
Golden Acre Park Wednesday 4th November
Meanwood Park Thursday 5th November


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

Green Leeds schools achieve top national environmental award

Three Leeds schools involved in Groundwork's Green Check programme have been awarded a national green award which recognises their actions to help reduce their impact on the environment.

Otley The Whartons Primary School, Calverley Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School and Park Spring Primary School have achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) status after demonstrating their green credentials.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
A celebration of achievements will take place this Friday (October 23) at Calverley C of E Primary School for all 10 schools in Leeds which currently have EMAS status. Media are invited between 1 and 2.30pm. Please email or call 0113 3951577 to confirm attendance.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

EMAS - a nationally recognised standard - is awarded to schools which demonstrate they are taking practical action to manage their impact on the environment.

The awards takes the total number of primary schools in Leeds with EMAS status up to 10 after seven schools which already had the award - Otley All Saints, Tranmere Park, Rawdon Littlemoor, Horsforth St Mary’s, Adel St John the Baptist, Horsforth West End Primary and Newlaithes - were reassessed and passed with flying colours.

To mark the achievements, a celebration will take place on Friday (October 23) at Calverley C of E Primary School for pupils from schools which have EMAS status. The celebration, between 1pm and 2.30pm, will include ‘eco bingo’ and a challenge to see if the children can power a stereo using just a bicycle. The EMAS certificates will also be presented to the schools.

Staff, children and young people at all 10 schools have been participating in Groundwork's Green Check programme to learn about behaviour that will help to protect the environment and tackle climate change. They have also been planting trees and bulbs, acting as light and water monitors to reduce waste, harvesting left over drinking water to water plants, recycling paper and composting fruit.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for education at Leeds City Council, said:
“Green issues are important for many of our children and young people and our schools are doing excellent work to help them understand the impact they have on the environment.

“Our schools already have a fantastic track record for energy conservation, recycling, healthy living and promoting sustainable environments and EMAS accreditation is national recognition of their hard work.”

Chris Edwards chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“The EMAS award gives national recognition to schools which are working hard to be as green as possible while educating our children and young people about how they can help reduce their impact on the environment

“Our sustainable schools programme allows children and young people to embrace ideas such as recycling, growing your own food and energy conservation which, together with building some of the most green and energy efficient schools in the country, means our schools are some of the best in the country for being green."

Will Gore, senior climate change coordinator at Groundwork, said:
“This is a fantastic result for the schools involved as they’ve successfully proved their long-term commitment to a more environmentally-friendly future by gaining the prestigious EMAS status. The result is thanks to all the schools’ hard work, especially the enthusiasm of the pupils for embracing a new, greener way of school life.”

The EMAS accreditation is a voluntary scheme but as more schools work to help tackle climate change, Education Leeds, Leeds City Council and Groundwork are working together to build on the successes and encourage more schools to become involved.

Education Leeds’ Sustainable Schools programme, which was originally piloted in 31 schools, is now set to roll out in all of the city’s schools. Focusing on purchasing and waste, the programme provides a clear link between the curriculum and reducing waste, ensuring that ideas and projects are driven by the pupils.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

Major national financial inclusion conference held in Leeds

New research shows that the economy in Leeds benefits by around £26 million each year from initiatives that provide affordable banking services and debt and money advice to people living in poorer communities in the city.

A major national conference is being held in Leeds this week to present the details of this research. Speakers at the conference include Helen Goodman MP, Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Brian Pomeroy, Chair of the Government’s Financial Inclusion Taskforce. The conference will take place at Elland Road Football Ground on Friday 23 October.

Leeds City Council, with support from Yorkshire Forward, commissioned Salford University to undertake the research, which is the first of its kind in the country. It shows that economic stimulation from financial inclusion initiatives is generated from a relatively small investment. For every £1 invested in these initiatives, £8.40 is generated in the local economy.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader of the council and executive member with responsibility for development said:
“The council and its partners have developed a strategy offering debt advice, affordable credit and assistance for people in claiming the benefits that they are entitled to. The research from Salford University is proof that these initiatives are generating considerable benefit not just to individual citizens but to the economy as a whole. This is a testament to the work of the council in “narrowing the gap” between the most disadvantaged communities and the rest of the city.”

Leeds City Council has been recognised by the government as a beacon council for financial inclusion.

Additional info

1. The conference is being held at Elland Road banqueting suite on Friday 23 October 2009 commencing at 10 am in the morning and concluding with lunch at approximately 12.45pm.

2. A full programme with indication of the speakers is attached.

3. The research included a survey of over 500 users of financial inclusion services in Leeds (affordable credit, debt advice and welfare benefits advice). Amongst the significant data which has been established through the research, the following is an example of some of the findings:

The full economic findings are available on the council’s web site at:

The research shows that every year, £26 million additional disposable income is generated in the local economy in Leeds with an impact on the regional economy of over £28 million.

This economic impact is produced from total operating costs of £3.3 million, which means that for every £1 invested in financial inclusion initiatives £8.40 is generated for the regional economy

The results of the survey gave very interesting findings also:

Following support from partners:
• almost 70% now claiming benefits or tax credits which they previously did not claim;
• individual debts reduced by half following casework advice;
• 1% said they would now use a doorstep lender compared to 22% who would have previously done so.

In addition:
• Those saying that their quality of life had improved:
LCCU sample – 52%
Debt advice sample – 57%
Benefits advice sample – 29%

• Residents receiving debt advice said:
Reduced stress/worry – 67%
Health had improved – 41%

A significant number of those surveyed said that they would now buy the amount of food that they needed to feed their families and to pay for heating their homes. All of this can have significant health implications and in turn result in fewer demands on the health service - another economic benefit to the city.

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

Council watchdogs call on hospital bosses to suspend plans to close specialist skin unit

Council watchdogs are calling on bosses at the Leeds General Infirmary to suspend plans to close down a specialist skin treatment unit pending an investigation.

Earlier this month, the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, confirmed that as part of a wider programme of changes across the two main hospital sites, plans were being considered to close Ward 43 at the LGI and provide patient beds elsewhere.

Members of the Leeds City Council Scrutiny Board (Health) committee have now written to the hospital trust asking for the proposals to close the 14-bed dermatology ward at ward 43 to be put on hold until they have investigated the issue.

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

“We are concerned that there seem to be a number of proposed changes at the hospital which are moving forward without the formal engagement of service commissioners, the Scrutiny Board and, most importantly, patients and service users.

“The Scrutiny Board has made it clear that this cannot be allowed to continue and we have asked for assurances from the Trust how their internal systems and arrangements can be improved to prevent this happening again.

“Leeds residents can rest assured that the Scrutiny Board will continue to champion the active involvement of patients and the public in decision-making within the NHS. Where we believe this is not happening, we will continue to question those responsible in a forceful, but fair manner.”

The Scrutiny Board has also asked for detailed clarification on the services currently provided on Ward 43 and the proposals to vary these services. Local councillors want to know how all interested parties have been engaged and involved in developing the proposals and how patients will benefit from any changes.

Once the information has been received from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust arrangements will be made for it to be considered at a Scrutiny Board meeting. Interested parties will be invited to attend and contribute to the meeting.


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