Friday, 27 November 2009

Checks and arrests as agencies sweep city’s bars and clubs

A sweep of pubs, bars and clubs in Leeds by the council, police and immigration officials has been hailed a success after it led to arrests and checks on door staff.

Officials from Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and the UK Border Agency visited 13 premises and checked 26 door staff in the city during the operation at the weekend.

At one of the venues, two illegal immigrants were arrested – one working as a glass collector, the other as a toilet attendant. It is the first time the Border Agency has been involved in this initiative.

A number of issues with door staff were also found, including:
• One female door staff member was not covered by her Security Industry Authority (SIA) badge to work on the front line
• One male door staff was found in possession of an expired SIA badge and was sent home
• Four of the premises were found to be employing door staff 'in-house' and not through a company. Further enquiries will now have to be made to ascertain who out of the venue management holds a 'non-frontline' licence which would allow them to deploy their own door staff.

Licensing officials from the council and police officers carry out joint visits twice a month to check licensed premises. These joint operations allows them to work more closely, using each other’s intelligence to identify offences and gather intelligence.

All door staff have to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority, which means they have been checked through the Criminals Records Bureau and have undertaken an accredited training course.

Councillor Richard Brett, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for licensing, said:
“I’m pleased that this sweep has worked well – working together with the police and immigration means we can be much more effective, and it is definitely something we will do again.
“By visiting together it also means the burden on businesses is greatly reduced and people can continue to use the city’s bars and pubs knowing that they are safe, and that those employed to keep them that way are properly trained and checked.”

Vernon Francis, the new Chief Inspector responsible for Leeds City Centre, said:
"We take issues regarding door staff very seriously because they play a big part in helping to keep the city centre safe and in reassuring visitors to pubs and clubs that they are safe places to be.
"The majority of licensees within the city also take these responsibilities very seriously, which is great to see, but it's important that we continue these visits in the run-up to the festive period to ensure that our pubs and clubs remain safe at the busiest time of the year."

Jeremy Oppenheim, Regional Director for the UK Border Agency in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, praised the cooperation:
“The UK Border Agency takes part in a number of multi-agency operations across the region, in addition to around 70 operations each month to tackle illegal working. This successful operation demonstrates the value of working alongside other enforcement bodies to combat those that would seek to violate our laws – be they immigration, criminal or public order offences.
“The two foreign nationals arrested, a Nigerian failed asylum seeker and a Jamaican who overstayed her visa, were found working illegally at The Space Club, 10-20 Duncan Street, Leeds. They have been released on immigration bail whilst furthering investigations are made with a view to possibly removing them from the UK.
“The employer has been served with a civil penalty notice for employing illegal workers and faces a potential fine of up to £10,000. Let this be an important reminder to those employers who employ illegal workers – we will not tolerate illegal working. It is a crime that not only undercuts local business but also has a serious impact on communities, taking jobs from those who are genuinely allowed to work.”

Notes to editors
1. The UK Border Agency was launched last year, 3 April 2008 by the Home Office, establishing a single force to protect our borders, control migration for the benefit of the country, prevent border tax fraud, smuggling and immigration crime and make quick and fair decisions on asylum claims.
2. Employers served with a Notice of Potential Liability (NOPL) in relation to illegal workers will have 28 days to provide the UK Border Agency with evidence that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out or face a fine of up to £10,000. Employers unsure of the steps they need to take to avoid employing illegal workers can visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers/ or they can call the UK Border Agency Employers Helpline on 0300 123 4699.

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

‘Tragedy’ for noisy family as council seizes their TV

A family that ruined their neighbours’ sleep by having their TV blast out songs like "Tragedy" and "Stand By You" late into the night have had it taken away, along with other audio equipment.

Council officials and police yesterday seized a TV, video player, DVD player, computer and a number of CDs from the home of Pamela Milner of 30 Broadlea Road, Bramley, Leeds, after she ignored warnings to keep the noise down.

Milner’s family regularly played music channel MTV at an excessive volume late into the night, meaning their neighbours were unable to get a decent night’s sleep and leaving them exhausted and distressed. Council officials heard the songs themselves when they visited one night.

Ms Milner was made aware the music was being played at unacceptable levels when a Noise Abatement Notice was served upon her in October. She was also warned that unless she stopped playing loud music, further action would be taken.

Despite this, she persisted and officers working the council’s out of hours noise service witnessed at least three occasions where she breached the terms of the abatement notice within a six-week period of it being issued.

Council officers working with West Yorkshire Police and West Northwest Homes Leeds, obtained a warrant from Leeds Magistrates Court and they entered Ms Milner’s property to seize the equipment in order to prevent future disturbance.

The council now intends to prosecute Ms Milner, which could lead to permanent forfeiture of the equipment and she could receive a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Excessive noise at inappropriate times can make people’s lives a misery and I am pleased we have carried out this seizure.
“Where there are complaints we will warn people, but if they do not modify their behaviour we will take action against them.”

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

Work can begin in Beeston now final house secured

Demolition can finally be completed to pave the way for new homes in Beeston, after the final old house in the Beverleys was purchased by Leeds City Council.

The major £11m project to replace obsolete housing in the area will see more than 130 poor quality properties replaced with modern, high-quality, affordable housing.

This month, the final resident moved out of the Beverleys after the council arranged to purchase their home. Residents have been able to find new homes thanks to advice and support from the council.

The area suffers from poor or obsolete housing and this renewal of the housing market is part of the comprehensive regeneration of Beeston Hill and Holbeck. They will be replaced with 55 two, three and four bedroomed houses, each with its own private garden. The homes will be built to modern standards of energy efficiency.

In 2005, the council’s executive board approved proposals for the acquisition and demolition of properties in the Beverleys area – a high number of which were unfit or empty at the time, while many of the residents were hoping to move out of the area.

A total of 97 privately-owned properties were purchased by the council so that 132 buildings, including pre-1919 back-to-back houses, could be demolished to make way for new affordable homes on the cleared site. The basic fabric of many of these properties was beyond repair.

Early phases of demolition have been taking place since 2008 but now that all properties are within council ownership the area will be cleared over the coming months.
Officers are working with Chevin Housing Association who intend to submit a planning application for redevelopment of the site shortly.

The plans will be available to view at the Dewsbury Road One Stop Centre on 16th and 17th December, 2009.

Chevin Housing Association will also submit an application to the Homes and Communities Agency for grant funding for the development of new affordable homes for rent and for shared ownership on the site.
If planning approval and funding is secured it is hoped that work on the new homes will start mid-2010.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“This is an area plagued by poor housing and radical action was needed to improve the situation.
“We have been careful to make sure that everyone who has had to move out, whether a council tenant or a private owner, has been offered support to help them find a new home.
“This is a major project for us and I’m pleased that work can now finally begin to transform the area, which we believe will bring many other positive changes to Beeston.”


Notes for editors
Research in 1999 by Sheffield Hallam University and Marchavon stock condition survey plus census data, and letting demand for socially rented homes, identified the Beverleys as having:
• a high proportion of occupants who were keen to move out of the area within the next five years
• a high proportion of unfit properties,
• a high proportion of empty properties,
• poor environmental conditions,
• a high number of properties with poor energy efficiency ratings.


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

Leeds gets top marks for road casualty reductions

New figures have revealed that eight wards in Leeds have seen the biggest reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads in West Yorkshire.

The recent West Yorkshire-wide study shows that nine of the top ten most improved wards are in Leeds, with the best performing ward overall achieving a very impressive reduction of 94 KSIs over a five year period.

Lots of things have contributed to these impressive results including.

• Improvements to road layout, signage, street lighting, and increased numbers of 20mph zones;
• Targeted safety schemes, higher standards in road maintenance and highways improvements at or near new development sites;
• Safety cameras for speed and red light violations plus additional enforcement action by West Yorkshire Police to target high risk offenders;
• Road safety education and practical training delivered to primary school pupils in ‘priority areas’. Secondary schools also have a programme of road safety education, which is supported by West Yorkshire Police and the Fire and Rescue Service.
• Cycle and pedestrian training delivered by council road safety trainers, supported by other agencies, school staff and parent volunteers; and
• Raising awareness of the issues that road users regularly face and getting the message across effectively by tying them into specific national and/or regional publicity campaigns whenever possible.

Councillor Stuart Andrew, lead member for road safety said:

“These are fantastic results for Leeds and a tribute to the hard work that is put into road casualty reduction by officers from the council and other agencies.

"Our programme of road safety initiatives is ongoing and to make sure that these improvements continue I would ask all road users and pedestrians to follow the advice in the highway code and take extra care on and near the roads.”

ENDS

Notes to editor

The study looked at the change in the number of people killed or seriously injured by comparing the five year period 1994-1998 with those achieved during the period 2004-2008.

Three ‘priority areas’ feature in the top six most improved wards and the improvements in these areas include significant reductions in the number of child pedestrians killed or seriously injured.

The council’s road safety promotion unit aims to educate the people of Leeds about road safety and offers a comprehensive service to nurseries, schools and colleges. It offers advice to parents, drivers and pedestrians and is involved in local, regional and national campaigns.

The unit can be contacted on 0113 247 5198, or by email to road.safety@leeds.gov.uk or via the council’s website at www.leeds.gov.uk/roadsafety

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