Monday, 30 November 2009

Tower blocks demolition to pave way for regeneration project

The demolition of seven prominent tower blocks in two inner city Leeds neighbourhoods could soon signify the start of one of the city’s largest neighbourhood regeneration schemes, if approval is given by Leeds City Council Executive Board on 9 December.

The tower blocks occupy land that will be developed as part of the Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck Private Finance Initiative (PFI) housing project. The proposal to start the demolition process applies to Holbeck Towers, Gaitskell Court and Grange in Holbeck as well as multi-storey blocks and selected maisonette properties at Carlton Gate in Little London.

Due to successful rehousing programmes led by Aire Valley Homes and West North West Homes, these properties have been emptied ahead of expectations with all previous tenants now living in homes of their choice. This has given the opportunity for demolition to be brought forward ahead of the appointment of a PFI contractor.

Since being fully emptied earlier this year the sites have attracted some anti-social behaviour causing nuisance to surrounding residents. The proposed demolition would prevent further deterioration and reduce the negative impact on the communities prior to the commencement of the PFI project.

With Executive Board approval, planning and preparation for the demolition, survey work and stripping out of the buildings can start, with actual dismantling of the buildings and clearance of the land set for completion by July 2010.

Once appointed, the PFI contractor will commence the building of new homes on these sites and be responsible for demolition on the remaining development sites, the building of new council homes, refurbishment of existing council homes, environmental improvements and a 20 year services contract.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing said:
“The early rehousing phases for the project have gone exceptionally well and I am delighted that all previous tenants are now settled and enjoying their new homes.
“However, we don’t want to be a victim of this success by creating blight or a setting for crime and nuisance behaviour with properties staying empty longer than is necessary.
“This is why Leeds City Council is working to bring down these properties at the earliest opportunity.”

The sites to be developed as part of the PFI will be levelled with hardcore and enclosed by a low level fence.

Notes to Editors:
The Regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck

Leeds City Council is making a major contribution to the regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The council has been awarded PFI credits by the government and is now undertaking the procurement of a contractor for the works.

The PFI contract with the private sector will be for the refurbishment of council properties, construction of new council homes, some environmental improvements and maintenance of all elements over a 20 year period. The PFI regeneration project contributes to the wider regeneration plans for Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

The partnership arrangement
The regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck is being led by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) which are not-for-profit companies set up by the council to manage and improve council housing stock. West North West Homes Leeds is the ALMO for Little London and Aire Valley Homes Leeds is responsible for Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

Project Scope
Beeston Hill & Holbeck

• 275 new council homes
• 388 existing homes refurbished
• Conversion of a sheltered housing scheme into self contained flats
• Environmental improvements to the Meynells, Ninevahs & Gaitskells
• Repairs and maintenance service for a period of 20 years

Little London
• 125 new council homes
• 853 existing homes refurbished
• Environmental improvements to Carltons, Servias, Oatlands and Lovells
• Improvements to play facilities and open space
• New shops
• A new housing office and new community centre
• Repairs and maintenance service for a period of 20 years

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Val Smith, Leeds City Council (0113) 247 8125
email: val.smith@leeds.gov.uk

Your chance to influence services and decisions in Yeadon

Residents in Yeadon are being encouraged to join their local community forum to get involved in improving services and influencing decisions in their area.

The Yeadon Forum is linked to the Outer North West Area Committee, which makes decisions about how key local services such as street cleansing, community safety and youth work are run in the area.

Matters discussed at the forum will then be passed to the area committee for consideration and action.

Local people who are involved with residents and interest groups in the area, or anyone with an interest in improving services and facilities, are all encouraged to attend.

Councillor Chris Townsley, chair of the Outer North West Area Committee, said:
“This is an ideal opportunity for local people to make a positive contribution to their community.

“The forum will allow people to raise the matters that are important to them and all issues will then be passed to the area committee for further discussion.

“The committee is always working to improve the community for local people, and I encourage anyone with an interest to take part.”

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member responsible for neighbourhoods, said:
“The city’s area management committees make important decisions that affect whole communities, so it is essential that the views and feelings of local people are known.

“This forum will improve communications between councillors and local people, and have a positive impact on services in the area.”

The next Yeadon Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 8 December between 7pm and 9pm in the Airedale Room in Yeadon Town Hall.

If you would like to attend, please contact Gavin Forster on 0113 3950977 or email gavin.forster@leeds.gov.uk.

ENDS
Additional info
The Outer North West Area Committee is made up of local councillors.

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

Council drive for alternative fuel vehicles

The council has placed its first order for 20 alternative fuel vehicles as part of the city’s commitment to the Lower Carbon Vehicle Public Procurement Programme (LCVPP).

Sixteen Ashwood hybrid vans and four Smiths Edison full electric vans have been ordered through Cenex, the appointed delivery partner to the Department of Transport.

Leeds is one of the six authorities involved in the programme, which was set up to introduce low carbon vehicles into public sector fleets.

Grant support towards the purchases and savings to the council equate to £367,912, with additional savings anticipated through reduced fuel consumption.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of the council and executive board member responsible for commercial transport said:
“We're really pleased to be involved in this pilot scheme, which gives us the opportunity to investigate new vehicle technology without the financial risks.

“The council made a commitment to reducing its carbon emissions by signing the Nottingham Declaration in 2006, and since then measures to reduce carbon emissions in transport have been integral to a number of council plans and policies. This project will help to promote more sustainable modes of travel, and hopefully lead to better availability of alternative fuelled vehicles for the general market."

ENDS

Additional info

Many high level Leeds City Council policies, strategies and related initiatives, highlight the need to reduce carbon emissions and promote more sustainable transport. The key ones include:
The Leeds Strategic Plan 2008-11
• Reduce ecological and carbon footprints from all sectors, promote changing behaviours.
The Climate Change Strategy for Leeds
• Revised target to reduce LCC carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels, plus targets for National Indicator (NI) 185 (CO2 reduction from local authority operations).
• Consultation process identified our transport policy as being rather weak, with 60% of respondents requesting stronger actions to promote more sustainable transport.
(Draft) Strategic EMAS Register
• EMAS objectives, KPI’s and environmental policy, all refer to measures that will promote more sustainable transport & reduce carbon emissions
The Leeds Waste Strategy
• Potential use of renewable energy for transport (Green electricity, bio-methane)
The Leeds Air Quality Strategy
• Action plan compliments the use of low carbon transport, similar benefits for reduced carbon as for air pollutants emissions

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

Day of the Disabled marked with inspirational words and inspired art

A champion Paralympic cyclist, a teacher who pushes the boundaries of dance and a gallery full of heads – just some of the ways Leeds is marking the International Day of the Disabled.

Leeds City Council has several events across the city aimed at marking the day on to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of disabled people.

On Wednesday, cyclist David Stone MBE - who won two gold medals at last year’s Paralympics in Beijing - will be giving an inspirational speech about participation in sports. Keen to encourage more disabled people into sport, he will be visiting the Mariners Resource Centre to share some of his experiences.

A Day of Inclusive Dance will also take place at the centre, aimed at widening participation in dance. Teacher Emma Clayton will bring along six dance students to assist in a series of workshops exploring movement and dance, leading to a short performance afterwards.

And the man who bequeathed Kirkstall Abbey to the people of Leeds is to be the inspiration for a 3D art project at the historic site. From 2pm to 3pm on Thursday at the Abbey Visitor Centre, visually impaired children will work with artists to take inspiration from a bust of Colonel John North, who gave the Abbey to the city in 1888.

They will make sculptures of how they perceive their heads before hanging their creations in the Abbey with a big gold frame to make a 3D picture. A small informal launch with tea and cake will also take place for the children and their families.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of Leeds City Council, who will be attending the event at Kirkstall Abbey, said:
“International Day of the Disabled is the perfect time to show that we are dedicated to helping disabled people, regardless of their background and circumstances, show that disability should be no barrier to success.
“Positive role models are vital for children, especially when they face barriers in their lives. So I’m delighted to see someone like David Stone coming to speak about his fantastic achievements and hopefully inspire children and young people in the city who are themselves disabled.
“Disabled people have a real role to play in society and I hope these events will show everyone the truth of that.”

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

Education Leeds championed at annual local government awards

Education Leeds has won high praise at the annual Local Government Yorkshire and Humberside ‘Making a Difference Awards’.

Education Leeds claimed first place in the ‘Outstanding Contribution’ category for the work of its Visually Impaired Team and was commended in the ‘Making the Connections’ category for its Be Smart: Use a Condom programme and in the ‘Transforming Through Efficiency’ category for the work of the Local Education Partnership (LEP).

Held at the Royal Armouries last Thursday (26 November), the awards were hosted by Local Government Yorkshire and Humber and celebrate those local authorities which have gone that extra mile and ‘made a difference’. This year there were over 165 entries judged by an independent panel from local government and regional and national organisations.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for education at Leeds City Council, said:
“The awards for Education Leeds and Leeds City Council recognise there are many teams going the extra mile to make a real difference to people in the city.

“To have won and been commended in these categories is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the teams and everyone involved should be proud of their achievements.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Our dedicated colleagues and brilliant work with partners across the city are helping to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in Leeds.

“From working with visually impaired children and young people, sex education and saving the city millions of pounds when delivering new state-of-the-art schools, the range of our work is huge.

“However the commitment of all involved is always the same and their hard work and dedication has been recognised by these awards and commendations.”

Leeds City Council also claimed first place in the ‘Building Cultural Spaces’ category for the Leeds City Museum and first place in the ‘Leadership and Contribution to Development of Local Government in Yorkshire and Humberside’ for its role in developing new arrangements and with the Leeds City Region.

The chief executive of Leeds City Council, Paul Rogerson, received an individual award for leadership and contribution to the development of local government in Yorkshire and Humber.

The council was also commended in the ‘Looking Beyond Our Shores’ category for its work through the Breeze youth project; in the ‘Stepping up to the Challenge’ category for the Children and Young People’s Participation Unit; and in the ‘Improving Lives’ category for Independent Living.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577
Email: jon.crampton@leeds.gov.uk