Thursday, 3 December 2009

Walton conservation area – have your say

Residents in Walton are being asked for their views on the future of the village’s conservation area and to comment on what makes Walton special to them.

The village is a recognised conservation area, which helps safeguard its special historic character and protect important buildings from demolition. It is protected by a conservation document, which was first written in 1981, but Leeds City Council is now looking to update it with the help of local people.

A public meeting will be held in Walton Parish Hall on Saturday 19 December from 10am to 2pm, where residents can meet the local community conservation officer and talk about what makes Walton special to them, which buildings and spaces they value the most and how they think it could be enhanced. This is part of a seven week public consultation period, running from Monday 30 November until Friday 15 January.

Councillor Andrew Carter, executive board member responsible for development, said:
“It is important that we are able to safeguard the special architectural nature and historic character of the village and protect important buildings from demolition.”

“The opinions of local people, who live and work in the village, are an integral part of the process, and this public meeting is an opportunity for people to speak to a conservation officer and make their views known to the council.

“I strongly urge local residents to participate in the consultation. It is a real opportunity for them to help us protect their local environment.”


Buildings within the conservation area are protected from unauthorised demolition, and new developments have to meet higher standards of design than elsewhere. Other planning rules are slightly different and permission is needed from the council for certain activities such as tree felling.

Local councillors in both Harewood and Wetherby wards have allocated money to this work to make sure that the Walton conservation area is updated.

ENDS

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

New housing could free up large council homes for needy families

Twenty-five new homes could be built in west Leeds to free up under-occupied council houses.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will next week be asked to approve a £1.5million plan for 25 new council houses on three council-owned sites in the west of the city – all intended for people over 55.

The intention is to encourage older council tenants whose children have left home to consider relocating to the new properties, easing the shortage of large family council houses.

The plans include eight two-bedroomed homes on the former Waterloo Primary School site in Pudsey, 11 at Evelyn Place in Wortley and six at Silver Royd Hill in Armley. Council leaders will vote on the proposals at their meeting on Wednesday 9 December.

The Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership has already agreed that Keepmoat Homes would build the houses, if permission for the scheme is forthcoming. Work is expected to begin in June next year.

The homes will be designed and constructed in a sustainable way, using products and processes that reduce environmental impact and provide the greatest energy efficiency possible – driving down heating costs and helping to reduce fuel poverty for council tenants.

The council’s scheme to reduce the number of large council homes that are under-occupied has so far freed up 115 family-sized properties across the city. Under the scheme, residents in under-occupied homes are paid £1,000 for every bedroom they ‘lose’ when moving to a more suitable property.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“These new houses will help free up large family-sized homes, for which there is very high demand in Leeds.
“The council faces major challenges in building decent affordable homes, but schemes like this mean we are using different ways of delivering our commitment to tackle the housing shortage.
“It’s a case of boxing clever – using what resources we have in an intelligent way so we can deliver as many new homes as we can.”

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 229 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

Recycled mirror proves fairest of them all


Caption:Jean Rogers with Pupils from Horsforth Featherbank Infant School Class two, the competition winners.

Mirror mirror on the wall which school in Leeds has faired best in a competition to test them all.

Local schools across Leeds were invited by the Carriageworks theatre to design a mirror out of objects such as recycled materials and junk. All the mirrors entered in the competition will be displayed in the theatre throughout the pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the winners getting free tickets to the show.

Horsforth Featherbank Infant School, Class 2 were the winners, discovered when Emmerdale favourite Jean Rogers, dressed as the Evil Queen, visited their school to surprise them.

To win the competition, the school beat 15 designs submitted by seven different schools from around the Leeds area.

The winning mirror was made of recycled materials found in the classroom and around the pupils houses, including old CDs, nails, and silver foil paper amongst other items.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“This competition has been a great way of getting local school children involved in a local pantomime on the lead up to Christmas. There are some really fantastic designs and all the schools have produced pieces to be proud of, which will look great on display at the Carriageworks. Congratulations to the winning team and I hope they enjoy their prize.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will run at The Carriageworks from Friday 4th December to Saturday 9th January 2010.

Tickets are on sale from the Carriageworks box office or by calling 0113 224 3801. They can also be booked online by visiting the Carriageworks website at www.carriageworkstheatre.org.


Notes to editors:

For further information on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, go to www.carriageworkstheatre.org or contact Suzanne David at Paul Holman Associates on 0208 845 9408 or email suzanne@paulholmanassociates.co.uk.

The Carriageworks is a thriving theatre at the heart of Leeds’ Millennium Square. It showcases the best new national and regional performances with a dynamic programme of theatre, dance, comedy and film. At the same time it provides support to young and emerging theatre makers, offering them a key platform to develop their work.

The Carriageworks also gives opportunities for members of the local community to take part in a variety of high quality arts activities, and is home to the Leeds Civic Arts Guild. This is an umbrella group of performing societies offering the opportunity for local people to experience making theatre in a fully-functioning professional venue.

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For media enquiries please contact:
Catherine Milburn,
Learning and Leisure Communications Assistant
on 0113 247 8285
Email: catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Spotlight on volunteering in Leeds and around the world


International Volunteer Day (IVD) takes place this weekend, and is a chance for the global community to acknowledge volunteers around the world and thank them for the vital contribution they make to society.

Leeds City Council and the Voluntary Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) will celebrate the valued contribution that volunteers make to Leeds with a year-long programme of volunteering activities starting in January. Led by joint leader of the council, Councillor Richard Brett, 2010 has been formally adopted as the Leeds Year of Volunteering - a celebration of the amazing work that is already happening in the city, plus a chance to promote the benefits of volunteering to a much wider audience and encourage more people to get involved.

The official launch will take place on Wednesday 13 January 2010, 10.30am at Victoria Gardens, the Headrow, Leeds, where hundreds of volunteers will gather to form the shape of the Leeds Year of Volunteering logo. So if you’re a volunteer or would be interested in finding out how you can become one, please come along and take part!

A dedicated Leeds Year of Volunteering website will also be up and running later this month, which will give details about events and activities throughout the year that people can get involved in.

The results of the 2008 Place Survey told us that 19% of the people sampled in Leeds were already involved in volunteering. Our aim is to get even more people involved by making it easier for people to get information about the opportunities that are available. A new volunteer centre will open in the city centre in January, which will help to speed-up the matching process of volunteers to the organisations and charities that need a helping hand.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader of the council said:
“The 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering is all about celebrating the fantastic work that is already happening in the city, and letting people know how and what they can do to get involved.

“Volunteering is a really positive experience for those who take part, and can provide a huge boost to people’s confidence, whilst helping them to develop new skills that can transfer into the workplace.

“It also gives people a real sense of belonging to the communities that they live and work in.

“I would like to encourage as many people as possible to come along to the launch of the Leeds Year of Volunteering, where they can hear about how to get involved in this worthwhile activity, which can do such a lot to improve the lives of local people.”

ENDS
Additional info

For more information about the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering and the launch event, please contact Steve Crocker on 0113 395 2799.

The new Leeds Volunteer Centre will be situated at 10b St Paul’s Street (Enterprise House), and will be open from 4 January 2010, Mondays to Thursdays, 10am to 3pm.

International Volunteer Day is on 5 December and was started by the United Nations in 1985. It is celebrated in the majority of countries around the world.

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

Improved rating for adult social care service

Leeds City Council is ‘performing well’ in the way it provides services for some of the city’s most vulnerable older or disabled people.

That is the verdict of the government’s watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following its annual review of the city’s Adult Social Care service.

Last year, the performance of the service was judged to be ‘adequate’ and this improvement in performance has been warmly welcomed.

The council’s executive board will next week receive the details behind the overall ‘performing well’ judgement and will hear that the service has received an ‘excellent’ mark for the way it involves service users and their carers in planning and developing their own services.

The board will also hear that in safeguarding, an area for which the city was criticised last year and given a ‘poor’ rating, Leeds has this year improved sufficiently to be judged ‘adequate’.

Councillor Peter Harrand, the council’s executive board member for adult health and social care commented:

This is excellent news and an improvement that is down to sheer hard work and determination on the part of managers and staff all across adult social care. I’m delighted for the staff who have worked hard in a short time to achieve this improvement, but above all, I’m pleased for the people of Leeds in this independent assurance that the social care services they receive are good.”

The CQC assesses all councils every year according to seven ‘outcomes’ for the way their social care services support people’s wellbeing. A key strength has been recognised in the way Leeds supports older people in achieving and maintaining independence through rehabilitation.

The Commission also notes that the city is intending to provide more extra care housing than comparator cities.

There is also praise for the £60 million Independent Living Project for learning disabled people, in particular for the way in which the tenants of the new properties have been involved in designing their bungalows and flats and the services provided in them.

The breadth and scale of voluntary organisations supported by adult social care is also commended for providing support for many thousands of people who are not eligible for statutory social care services.

In addition, the council’s work with other agencies to help people maximise benefits and pensions and to manage their finances is also recognised as an area of strength by CQC.

In the report, the CQC inspector recognises the progress Leeds has made over the past year to improve its safeguarding of vulnerable adults. Of particular note was the scale of investment in recruiting staff to deal with safeguarding investigations, embedding new processes and serious case review procedures.

The CQC report goes on to highlight areas where improvements remain to be made, including increasing the number of people who organise their own support by opting to receive a direct payment. To do this, CQC says, Leeds should continue to modernise its in-house services and broaden its range of services so that people can have greater choice and control over the support they have.

The report also notes that only a small number of people with learning disabilities are in work or training, compared with cities similar to Leeds and that the impact of support for carers to stay in employment is yet to be seen.

Councillor Harrand continued:

“The improvements noted in the CQC report are most encouraging but we know we have a task ahead to modernise our services and everyone in adult social care is focused on doing this. Of course, we are delighted to be performing ‘well’ – now we will work towards a judgement of ‘excellent’. As I talk to staff from all across the service, I see a strong determination to improve, to modernise and to build better and more varied services for the people of Leeds.”

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For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.uk