Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Getting services back to normal as bin strike is called off

Work has begun to get refuse collection and street cleaning services in Leeds back to normal after workers voted to end a strike.


Members of the GMB and Unison unions are expected to return to work on Wednesday morning after 11 weeks on the picket line.


Since industrial action began in September, private contractors have been used to empty black bins across the city and most recently, new temporary workers have been assigned to green and brown bin collections.


The private crews will be kept on for the next few days while services are re-established.


But, there’s a warning that collections won’t return to normal overnight.


Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member with responsibility for refuse collection and street cleaning said:


“There has been a lot of disruption in the last eleven weeks, despite the fact we have been working as hard as possible to keep services running.


“While it is good news that our staff have decided to come back to work, it is going to take us sometime to re-establish the workforce, re-introduce services and move forward with the modernisation work.  


“It can’t happen overnight.


“That’s why I am appealing for residents to bear with us while we work to restore a full service and clear any backlog.”


A more frequent service of black bin collections will resume as soon as possible, hopefully from Thursday. Green bins will be emptied at least monthly and a one-off collection of brown bins will continue until December 6.


Yesterday members of the Unison and GMB unions voted overwhelmingly in favour of return to work after accepting a revised council offer.


It means many workers will have pay losses eradicated altogether thanks to the council’s proposals for a system based on productivity.


In return the unions have agreed to work with the authority to modernise the service, tackle sickness and achieve efficiency targets that are required.



Posted via web from Leeds City Council

Campaign finds huge demand from tenants with rent arrears and debt worries

A campaign offering help with rent arrears has been deluged with calls from tenants hit hard by the recession.

Almost one in four people contacted by West North West Homes Leeds (WNWHL) as part of its ‘Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay?’ campaign asked for help with rent arrears and managing their debt.

Traditionally, this is the time of year that council tenants are most likely to fall into rent arrears, with Christmas putting a strain on finances – made worse this year by the difficult economic conditions.

For two weeks in November, WNWHL contacted tenants by direct mail postcard, phone, text message and arranged appointment to show them that help is at hand, but also warning them that if they refused to seek help with arrears then action could be taken against them.

Compared to an ordinary week, the team saw a massive increase in the numbers of people calling for advice and more than 800 tenants in arrears were given help – nearly the same amount of new payment plans were arranged to collect rent and reduce arrears.

The 'Can't Pay? Won't Pay?' campaign highlighted that free help and advice is available, but legal proceedings could start if the arrears are not cleared. The advice given to tenants focused on debt management but also looked at way they could claim housing benefit.

Cathy Clelland, chair of the West North West Homes Leeds board, said:
“We realise that times are hard for many of our tenants, so we want to ensure that people get the support they need.
“Working with our partners at the Leeds Benefit Service to ensure they receive the benefits they are entitled to is one way of helping customers and we will negotiate a repayment plan with anyone who has fallen behind with their rent payment.
“Nevertheless we are also sending a strong message to customers that non-payment will not be tolerated – if anyone needs help or advice they should contact our customer account team without delay.“

Tenants of West North West Homes Leeds who are having trouble with debt and are in rent arrears should phone WNWHL’s helpline for free and independent advice on 0800 915 1113.

Notes to editors

West North West Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. It is wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
West North West Homes Leeds covers the areas of Otley, Pool, Bramhope, Guiseley, Yeadon, Cookridge, Rawdon, Holt Park. Tinshill, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Burley, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Woodhouse, Wortley, Farnley, and New Farnley.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937
Email: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

The Leeds City Region to submit its final World Cup bid

The Leeds City Region is to officially submit its bid for Leeds to be a host city for the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Local school children, Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer, members of the team who have written the bid and Councillor John Procter will travel to London on Thursday (November 26) where they will present the bid to the Football Association at Wembley Stadium.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
On Thursday 26 November, the delegation will travel to London by train in two groups. The first group - including Cllr John Procter and Peter Lorimer - will leave Leeds at 6.40am with a media opp’ at the train station between 6.10 and 6.30am. The second group - consisting of six schoolchildren - will leave Leeds at 7.20am with a media opp’ between 7am and 7.15am. Please email jon.crampton@leeds.gov.uk or call 0113 3951577 to confirm attendance at either.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

The submission comes less than five months after the city region launched its bid to be named as a host city should England successfully bid to be the host country in 2018.

Footballing legends - including Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Nigel Martyn and Gordon McQueen - have worked alongside school children, poets, Thai ladyboys, local knitters and Olympic delegations to raise awareness of the bid and encourage people to vote for Leeds to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world.

The region’s bid has received support from around the world and included former and future World Cup host cities – Dortmund in Germany and Durban in South Africa - as well as Lille in France and Brasov in Romania after both countries’ national teams played group matches in Leeds during Euro 96.

Leeds will find out on Wednesday 16 December if it will be named as one of the successful host cities.

Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“Leeds would be a perfect host city for the 2018 World Cup. We have the facilities and support to ensure the matches would be a huge success and with four professional football clubs - Leeds United, Barnsley, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City – and thousands of passionate sports fans, we would ensure a warm Yorkshire welcome to football fans around the world.

“Hosting World Cup matches would put the Leeds City region on the world map as well as providing a huge economic boost to local businesses. Both Yorkshire and Leeds have a proud sporting heritage and it would be an honour for both to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world.”

Leeds is one of 15 cities across the country which have declared an interest in hosting World Cup fixtures in nine years time if the overall England bid is successful.

Leeds City Council has worked with Leeds United and Marketing Leeds to prepare the bid with support many other organisations’ support.

If Leeds secures host city status games would be played at Elland Road. It’s proposed that improvements would be made to the stadium so it would be capable hosting group, ‘round-of-16-matches’ and potentially a quarter final.

Other towns and cities which make up the Leeds City Region* would be used as locations for training grounds and ‘Fan Fests’ where supporters can gather and watch matches on big screens.


Notes to editors:
*The Leeds City Region Partnership brings together the eleven local authorities of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council.

For more information contact:
Jon Crampton
Leeds City Council
0113 395 1577

Debbie Clarke
Marketing Leeds
0113 2145203