Wednesday, 2 December 2009

It’s croc-a-bye babies at Tropical World




Captions: Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter with one of the new stars of Tropical World

History will be in the making at Tropical World in Roundhay this week as for the first time ever a Leeds visitor attraction has become home to three resident crocodiles.

Tropical World has recently taken on three young Morelet’s Crocodiles and after settling in they are now ready to go on show to the public from Wednesday 2nd December.

The juvenile crocodiles are all approximately two years old and are currently around two feet long but may grow to become up to 10 feet long (three metres). The trio have arrived from Cotswold Wildlife Park but are native in the wild to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala in Central America.

The crocodiles are currently too young to determine their genders, but it is hoped that they will become part of a successful worldwide breeding programme which has seen the Morelet’s Crocodile recover in numbers from near-extinction following severe hunting for their skin in the 1940s and 1950s to approximately 20,000 today.

The Morelet gets its name from the French naturalist Pierre Morelet who discovered the species in Mexico in 1850. Significantly smaller than saltwater crocodiles, the Morelet’s are found only in inland fresh water areas such as streams, rivers, lakes and marshes.

Adult males are larger than females, averaging three metres in length, with the longest reaching 14 feet (4.3m). When they are young the crocodiles live on small invertebrates found in and around the water as well as small fish and amphibians. As they get larger their diet changes to include mammals and birds which are caught by the crocodile when they venture too close to the water.

The crocodiles at Tropical World come soon after the arrival of a collection of new snakes including a rare albino Burmese Python which measures approximately 11 feet long and a Yellow Anaconda which is almost five feet long.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are all hugely excited about having crocodiles living at one of the leading visitor attractions in Leeds for the first time. We are sure people of all ages will be fascinated to come and see these amazing animals and watch as they grow and develop in the coming years.

“We have been looking to bring new animals to Tropical World and when we asked people what they wanted to see the overwhelming answer was crocodiles so together with our fantastic new snakes we hope visitors will be really pleased that we have listened and given them what they asked for. Now is a really exciting time to come along and see what Tropical World has to offer.”

Notes to editors:
Located opposite Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants outside Kew Gardens and also houses birds, butterflies, fish, other reptiles, nocturnal monkeys, bats and the ever-popular meerkats.

Tropical World was officially renamed ‘The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World’ in 2008 in honour of the local benefactors for their lifelong support for the area and the city.

For further information on Tropical World and its opening hours go to www.leeds.gov.uk/tropicalworld or call 0113 214 5715.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Plans allow all Leeds residents to recycle at home

Ambitious plans to overhaul recycling services to give all Leeds residents ways to recycle at home have been revealed.

A report to be discussed by council chiefs next week sets out plans to expand the roll out of kerbside recycling collections and moves to tackle the ‘gaps’ in recycling services that exist across the city.

The improved recycling services will be funded from refuse collection efficiencies that were agreed with trade unions, bringing an end to the period of strike action. By making the service more cost-effective and flexible it’s estimated that the council will save around £2m.

Ultimately the plan aims to enable thousands more people in Leeds to recycle more locally by providing specially tailored recycling services.

Council research has found there are gaps in current recycling services for the city’s residents. Whilst, 93.4% of the households in Leeds had access to a green bin or bag collection for a mix of recyclable materials, there are 22,000 households that do not.

Findings also suggests that for around 6,100 properties in the city, the recycling scheme is not working well due to evidence of high contamination (material that can’t be recycled mixed with those that can) and low participation.

The range of improved services proposed are designed to allow more people to get into the recycling habit and help the city achieve its target of recycling at least 50% of household waste by 2020.

These include green bins for residents currently missing from existing routes, community recycling sites to be shared by groups of residents such as people living in flats and roll out of additional garden waste collections to 33,000 suitable households.

Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member for environmental services, said:
“We know recycling has become part of every day habit for a lot of residents and we’re grateful for all those doing their bit to cut down on waste going in their black bin.

“To push our recycling rates further we need a flexible service that reflects the different needs of the city. There can not be a ‘one size fits all solution’ for recycling and we keen that we provide every household with access to recycling in a way that works for them.

“We are committed to improving the range of services we offer and want to make it easier for everyone in the city to go green.”

If the plans get the go-ahead, council officers will begin to consult with local residents and councillors to help identify the most popular and high performing solution preferred. New recycling collection schemes will be implemented over a phased period.

Notes to editors:
By the end of 2008/09, 93.4% of the households in Leeds had access to a green bin or bag collection for a mix of recyclable materials – paper, cardboard, some plastics and cans. (Approx 6,300 properties receive a door-step green bag recycling scheme due to either to a lack of bin storage space or restricted collection vehicle access.

Some 7% (or 22,000) properties across the city do not have a form of recycling bin or bag collection. These properties have generally been high rise, multi-occupancy or in difficult to access and rural locations.

Of the 93.4% of properties that do have a green bin or bag collection , there are approx 6,100 properties where the recycling scheme is currently not working well due to evidence of high contamination (material that can’t be recycled mixed with those that can) and low participation

A weekly recycling collection runs for a number of high rise and multiple occupation properties. The route covers the city centre, high rise blocks, university accommodation, sheltered accommodation, community centres and hospices throughout the Leeds area and collects mixed recyclables similar to the kerbside green wheeled bin collections and in a separate container, mixed glass. A total of 1,066 tonnes was recycled in 08/9 from this scheme.

Community Recycling Sites have recently been set up in some areas of the city. They serve a mixture of high and low rise properties in areas that don’t have a green bin collection. Each of these sites can provide recycling for 150 – 370 properties. There are two bin types:
A green mixed recyclables similar to the kerbside green wheeled bin sort collections including cardboard, paper, cans and plastic bottles.
A white mixed glass container.

The Recycling Improvement Plan will be considered by the council’s executive board on Wednesday 9 December. Copies of the report can be found on www.leeds.gov.uk or from the communications team on 0113 224 3335.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact;
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
Email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk

City Varieties renovation works move forward

A project to renovate and conserve one of the oldest music halls in the country, the Leeds City Varieties, moves forward this week as it is ‘handed over’ to construction contractors.

Over the coming weeks, builders will prepare to start work on a major refurbishment project to bring the music hall back to its former glory. Designs are based, as far as possible, on the building as it was in the late 19th century.

The work involves restoration of the auditorium, improved stage and backstage facilities, additional toilets, improved access including more ground floor foyer space, relocated box office and installation of a public lift to serve all levels of the auditorium.

Following a review of the original designs, it’s now proposed to install a lift which will be used to transport heavy equipment to the stage area.

Council chiefs will be updated on the refurbishment project next week. A report, which will be presented to the council’s executive board, explains that time has been spent negotiating a legal agreement, carrying out an archaeological survey and signing a construction contract with BAM Construction. The refurbished building is scheduled to open in late Spring/Summer 2011.

Councillor Andrew Carter Leeds City Council leader and executive board member for Development and Regeneration, said:
“It’s good to hear that the project is taking shape. We are committed to our plans which will see a new lease of life for the City Varieties. It’s such an important facility not just for its performances but its architecture and social history means that it can also be enjoyed as a learning resource too. The Varieties are one of the city’s crown jewels.”

Councillor John Procter, Chair of the Leeds Grand Theatre Board, said:
“It’s vital we move forward with this project and I’m pleased that progress is being made. The City Varieties plays such an important part in the heritage of our city and with the recent completion of Phase 2 of the Grand Theatre works, we are providing the city with fantastic entertainment and cultural facilities.”

The refurbishment scheme has been made possible through funds of £5.325m from Leeds City Council, the £2.739m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £1.261m contribution from the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd which is being raised through a fundraising campaign. Anyone wishing to contribute should visit www.cityvarieties.co.uk or contact 0113 391 7777 or City Varieties Music Hall, 24 Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7JL.

The council’s executive board members will be asked to agree to give additional funding on the project to cover the new internal lift and for possible increased construction costs.

The City Varieties Music Hall Refurbishment – Project Update report will be considered by the council’s executive board on Wednesday 9 December. Copies of the report can be found on www.leeds.gov.uk

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact;
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
Email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk