Thursday, 5 November 2009

World Cup winners touch down at sports centre

Caption: New Zealand Rugby League team getting to grips with training on the pitch at the John Charles Centre for Sport.

Leeds City Council's flagship sports complex is to be the host training ground for the 2008 Rugby League World cup winners as they return to Yorkshire to try and gain some new silverware.

The John Charles Centre for Sport is providing training facilities to the New Zealand Rugby League team as they compete and train for the 2009 Rugby League Four Nations, the first of three Four Nations series planned before the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

The impressive bodyline gym, multi-million-pound Aquatics Centre and well maintained rugby pitch will provide the setting for the training for the World Cup winning team. The team have spent the last few days training in the Bodyline gyms and using the other extensive facilities that the excellent centre provides in the lead up to the their third match against England this weekend.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“It is great to have the current holders of the Rugby League World Cup using our state-of-the-art facilities. It confirms the status of the facility as being one of world class with elite players rubbing shoulders with the wider community.

New Zealand Team Manager Gordon Gibbons said:
“We are very lucky to have had access to all the facilities at the John Charles Centre for Sport. It is brilliant to have all the facilities we need in one place, and they are truly excellent facilities. We are always greeted very well and have been made very welcome by all the staff on our visit.”


For media enquiries please contact:
Catherine Milburn,
Learning and Leisure Communications Assistant
on 0113 247 8285

Young people switch onto local democracy

Youngsters in schools across Leeds have been setting out their ideas for how the city should be run as part of the council’s mayor for a day competition.

The annual competition is organised as part of Local Democracy Week, which is a national initiative to encourage young people to get more involved in local government to understand what it does and how it affects their lives.

Students from schools across Leeds have been invited to enter the competition, which gives the winner the chance to take charge of the council and become ‘mayor for a day’. They will meet senior officials and councillors and be asked to speak at a full council meeting in front of the city’s 99 councillors. Other highlights will be a ride in the Mayor’s limousine and taking part in the ceremony to switch on the Leeds Christmas Lights.

The theme for this year’s competition is equality, and potential mini mayors have been fine- tuning their manifestos over the past few weeks. Students from schools across the city will be asked to vote for the one they like the best. The winner will be announced at an event at Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday, 12 November and the successful student will then go on to help switch on the Christmas Lights.

Last year's winner, Sophie Cooper-Connelly of Boston Spa High School, gained huge support for her agenda to build an arena for Leeds.

Sophie said:
“It was fantastic to win the competition and get to be mayor for a day. The visit to the civic hall was really interesting and it was good to get the chance to talk with councillors to find out how Leeds is run. The highlight of the day though was being on stage to switch the Christmas lights on with Alesha Dixon and Leon Jackson – brilliant!

“Making my speech in front of all the councillors was really nerve-wracking, but they listened to what I had to say and gave me a massive round of applause at the end.”

Councillor Richard Brett, council leader and executive board member with responsibility for democratic services said:
“Not enough young people are interested in politics, so we want to do more to get them involved. It’s really important for young people to learn about democracy and this competition is a great opportunity for them to come and tell us their ideas on how the city should be run.

“We’re really interested in what they have to say too. Their views are just as important as the adults and this is a perfect way of finding out what youngsters think and what their priorities are.”


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

Big plans agreed for Boston Spa Children’s Centre

Senior councillors have agreed to invest £850,000 to create a purpose built children’s centre for Boston Spa.

At the meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board yesterday (Wednesday 4 November), members discussed plans to create the new Boston Spa Children’s Centre on the site of Deepdale Community Centre, and agreed to invest £853,900 into the project.

The Boston Spa Children’s Centre will be serving parents and carers who have children under 5 years old in the Boston Spa area, including Bramham, Thorp Arch, Barwick, Thorner, Scholes and Aberford.

It will provide a universal range of services including outreach, information and advice, support to childminders, links with Job Centre Plus, access to community health services and activities for children and their parents/carers such as parent/carer and toddler groups.

As well as housing the children’s centre the Deepdale site would also offer a multi-purpose community space, including a ‘chill-out zone’, youth service and extend services provision and the existing playgroup.

Councillor Richard Harker executive board member responsible for Early Years said:
“This investment will provide Boston Spa families with a host of easily accessible community facilities all in one convenient location. With the children’s centre sharing the same site as the community centre, playgroup, youth services and other facilities, the community will have everything they need on their doorstep.”

Any new building is subject to planning permission, however the plans are that it would be traditionally built and sympathetic to the surrounding environment, with a render and stone exterior. The building will be designed to enable future building works to be attached.

Work is expected to start on site in March 2010 with a view to it being completed by October 2010.

The Boston Spa Children’s Centre will not be providing additional childcare as there is already sufficient childcare available to parents and carers in the area.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713

Leeds council chief executive announces his intention to retire

Paul Rogerson, the chief executive of Leeds City Council has today, Thursday, 5 November, announced his intention to retire from the position during the course of next year.

The council will now set about the recruitment of a new chief executive – a process that could take upwards of six months.

Paul joined the authority in 1989 as an assistant director in its legal services division, became chief legal officer in 1991, was promoted to the council’s corporate leadership team in 1995 and was appointed as chief executive of the council in 1999.

Over the last ten years, Paul has worked with five council leaders from three political parties and headed up one of the North’s largest employers, with more than 30,000 staff and a budget of over £2billion. He has overseen a council providing a wide range of services for a diverse population of over 750,000 people. Over recent years, Paul has also worked hard to promote a city-region approach to economic planning.

In 2007 he was awarded a CBE for his services to local government.

Paul said:

“I have been fortunate in having had the support of some great colleagues here in Leeds and I would like to think that, together, we have been able to make a positive contribution not only to the life of the city but also to the standing and reputation of local government more widely.”

By training, Paul is a lawyer and an economist and, before entering local government in the 1970s, he taught at universities both in the UK and the USA.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader of Leeds City Council, has worked with Paul as leader longer than any other member of the council and has been at the council from when he first joined. He said:

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Paul over so many years.

“He is a man of singular integrity and professionalism and his commitment to the city is absolute. I cannot overstate how much he has contributed to the progress that we have made as a local authority over these years, particularly during his role as a chief executive.

“I shall personally miss working with him but of course fully understand that there comes a time for everyone when retirement beckons.

“I am sure Paul will continue to contribute to the life of the city and city region over the years to come in some capacity during his retirement.”


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

Council plans announced for business support scheme

Leeds City Council plans to set up a business support scheme to help boost trade at Leeds markets and other businesses operating in council-owned premises.

The scheme will provide expert business advice and, if necessary, financial support for businesses during the recession and is particularly aimed at businesses located in Leeds Kirkgate Market and other council-owned properties.

The scheme was outlined yesterday, Wednesday 4 November, at a meeting between the council and a group of tenants from Kirkgate Market. The meeting was part of discussions between the council and tenants’ representatives over how the council can help improve business at the market and support them during the recession.

The council has also decided to transfer management of the market to its city centre management team, allowing it to take advantage of the team’s regional, national and international promotional work and strengthening its links to the city centre retail offer.

The council has carefully considered a request to reduce rents at Kirkgate, but has concluded that a rent reduction would not make a significant difference to the overall success of market businesses. For example a 25% rent reduction for a single stall in the 1976 indoor market building, will only amount to a £14 a week saving.

Alternatively, while the business support scheme is in its early stages, officers are looking at whether it could provide business advice and financial support such as grants, rent support and business loans, to support businesses suffering from the impact of the recession,

The council also intends to identify further capital funding to invest in the Kirkgate market building and will hold further discussions with tenants on how that funding should be focused on attracting and retaining shoppers to the market.

Council officers will further develop the business support scheme and present it to the council’s executive board in December 2009 for consideration and approval with a view to implementing the scheme in January 2010, after the busy Christmas retail period.

Councillor Andrew Carter, Leeds City Council deputy leader and executive member responsible for markets, said:

“We promised to respond to tenants’ concerns about Leeds Kirkgate Market within two weeks and that is what we have done.

“They asked us to reduce rents at the market, but the recession is affecting all businesses, not just those at the Kirkgate market, so we are setting up a business support scheme which will be available to all our business tenants occupying the council’s commercial property.

“We know that the market is an important part of this city’s heritage and that these are difficult economic times and we recognise that we need to help the market weather the recession and thrive and grow.

“Bringing the market under the control of our city centre management team will strengthen its ties to city centre retail offer and enable the market to take full advantage of the excellent marketing expertise offered by the team.

“Leeds Kirkgate Market is a vital and much-loved shopping destination and we will continue to work to support its success.”
For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602