Monday, 21 December 2009

Council dog wardens help with Christmas reunions

A dog that spent the night shivering in a blizzard-battered wood after it ran off when the van it was in was involved in an accident, has been reunited with its owner by council dog wardens.

Indie the French Mastiff was found running scared through Rodley Woods on Thursday, after he escaped from owner Karen’s van following a road accident in the first major snow to hit Leeds.

Karen rang the council after her van was involved in a crash while she was driving along Coal Hill Lane. Frightened by the collision, Indie jumped through the open window and made off into Rodley Woods, spending a cold night by herself.

The council’s Dog Warden Service put Karen in touch with a person who had reported seeing a dog matching Indie’s description in the woods. After a few moments of searching, Indie and Karen were reunited. Karen then called back to thank staff for their help.

At the same time, the council matched up a lost dog report for a Doberman that had been found in Golden Acre Park and taken in by member of public. Again, the owner was contacted, the dog was retrieved and the owner rang back to say how grateful she was.

Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“The person who spotted Indie in the woods did the right thing by calling us, meaning we could reunite dog and owner within minutes.
“The weather conditions have been pretty awful over the last few days and Karen must have been very worried.
“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reunite these dogs with their owners so quickly – particularly considering the time of year.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937

Let’s break with tradition this year

Christmas can be a hectic time of year as people have lots of things on their minds like how long to boil the sprouts for or whether Aunty Maude would prefer a blue or green jumper etc…

Traditionally, pedestrian road casualties increase over the festive period and sadly this is often due to the actions of the pedestrians themselves. It’s important that drivers pay special attention at this time of year, particularly when driving in and around built up areas.

So whether you’re driving, riding or walking this Christmas please give other road users a little more space, be a bit more forgiving and remember that the roads need your full attention.

Councillor Stuart Andrew, lead member for road safety said:
"If you’re planning on enjoying some Christmas spirit, please leave the car at home. People’s lives are destroyed every year by those who consume alcohol and then choose to get behind the wheel of a car. As little as one drink can alter your ability to make judgements, so its really not worth the risk.

“Pedestrians are also more likely to stray onto the road when under the influence of alcohol, so if you’re driving you need to be fully in control.

"We all want to enjoy the festive season so give people a little extra time and space on the roads this Christmas."

Additional info
Between 2001 – 2008 in Leeds in November and December:
25% of serious or fatal pedestrian casualties were the pedestrians fault.
35% of serious or fatal casualties were due to driver error.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Biting back against loan sharks saves people from £6.5m in unfair interest

Combating loan sharks has saved people in part of Leeds £6.5million in rip-off interest payments since 2005.

A campaign by East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL) and Leeds City Credit Union (LCCU) to ‘bite back’ against loan sharks and doorstep lenders has saved hundreds of families from being crippled by £6.5million in astronomical interest rates and unfair charges.

The ‘Don’t Feed the Sharks’ campaign has helped some of the city’s poorest communities access affordable loans, bank accounts, bill payment services and savings accounts.

The regular joint campaigns by ENEHL and LCCU have encouraged as many people as possible to move away from ‘doorstep lenders’ and loan sharks, and instead take out a Credit Union ‘Handiloan’ in times of financial crisis.

Doorstep lenders and loan sharks targeting deprived communities in Leeds with ‘arm and a leg’ interest charges were recently highlighted by singer Mel B in the ‘7 Days on the Bread Line’ series.

A typical example highlighted by Mel B was a family with five children existing on a budget of £264 in benefits, from which £72 had to be paid each week to what she described as a ‘doorstep loanshark’.

Janet Burr, Deputy Chief Executive of Leeds City Credit Union said:
“These loans change lives. One of our recent cases was a mum who had got into arrears with a doorstep lender; she was also behind with her bills, rent and council tax. Her total debts were approx £4,500.
“We consolidated a loan for her to pay off her debts and bring her bills up to date. We opened a budget account for her to pay her rent, water rates and council tax through she is now in credit with these and can afford to buy presents for her children.
”We have numerous life changing case studies such as this which also benefits East North East Homes Leeds as we help people to prioritise paying their rent through our Budget account.”

Angelena Fixter, chair of East North East Homes Leeds Board said:
“The tough economic climate has meant doorstep lenders profiting from people who are on low wages, benefits or who are vulnerable.
“Working with the Leeds City Credit Union we’ve taken a tough stance on door step lenders by making affordable, safe financial services and loans available from the LCCU branches in East North East Homes Leeds Board offices.
“More than 6,000 of our residents now have access to fair and affordable financial products that sends a clear message to doorstep lenders that we will not let them damage our communities, we have no room for bullies”

Notes for editors:
The total of £6.5million has been calculated by taking the number of loan accounts opened at Leeds City Credit Union branches by residents in the East North East Homes Leeds area, and calculating the amount doorstep lenders would have charged them for the same amount in loans.

East North East 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. East North East Homes Leeds covers the areas of Boston Spa, Burmantofts, Chapel Allerton, Chapeltown, Collingham, Gipton, Halton Moor, Harehills, Linton, Meanwood, Moor Allerton, Moortown, Seacroft, and Wetherby.

Leeds City Credit Union provides straightforward, affordable financial services to a growing number of people in Leeds with branches located in the East North East Homes Leeds housing offices of Seacroft, Wetherby and Halton Moor One Stop Centres. There are a further seven branches across the city at Armley, Morley, Belle Isle, Dewsbury Road, the City Centre, 2 Great George Street and North East Leeds on Roundhay Road.

For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 229 3937

Robots and the ‘Fab Four’ ready to start the Leeds New Year’s party

Caption: The ‘Sergeant Peppers’ stilt-walking band

Leeds city centre is preparing to be invaded by mysterious robots while some familiar faces will also be on hand to help the city usher in 2010 at the annual New Year’s Eve street party.

Now in its third year, the special family-focused afternoon event will see a variety of street entertainment taking place on Briggate and The Headrow building up to a spectacular firework display as Leeds becomes one of the first UK cities to welcome in the New Year.

Organised by Leeds City Council and supported by 96.3 Radio Aire and the Yorkshire Evening Post, the fun begins from 2pm with walkabout performances from stiltwalkers, acrobats, jugglers and balloon modellers entertaining the crowds.

Famous faces will also be seen, as there will be a special stage-based theatrical production of Harry Potter and Friends on Briggate while the ‘Fab Four’ will also be in attendance as the ‘Sergeant Peppers’ stilt-walking band will be performing some of The Beatles’ biggest hits dressed in the iconic Sgt Pepper’s outfits. Throughout the day there will also be family fairground rides on Briggate, Victoria Gardens and Dortmund Square.

The celebrations will then take a futuristic slant as giant robot Titan will be let loose on The Headrow followed by a specially-commissioned musical parade of giant drumming Techno Robots as the afternoon entertainment builds to the climax.

This happens at 5:30pm, when 96.3 Radio Aire's Rich Williams will be on The Headrow for the big countdown as the crowds gather to enjoy the explosion of noise and colour as fireworks illuminate the skies over the city centre to say farewell to 2009 and bring in the New Year.

The public viewing area for the fireworks will again be along The Headrow between Albion Street and Briggate.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
"Our New Year’s Eve celebrations on Briggate and The Headrow get bigger and better every year and this will be another great afternoon of family entertainment to get people of all ages in the party mood.

“The number of people who attended last year was amazing as thousands flocked to The Headrow to see the fantastic firework display and we look forward to seeing everyone there again this year.”

96.3 Radio Aire presenter Rich Williams said:
“This is a fantastic event for all the family and I’m really looking forward to starting the celebrations early! The fireworks will be fantastic and I hope to see you all there!”

For further details on the New Year's Eve celebrations visit or call Leeds City Council’s Events Team on 0113 395 0891.

Notes to editors:

The Headrow (between Albion Street and Vicar Lane) will be closed for the celebrations from 12noon-6:30pm.

Usual New Year’s Eve bus services will run up until 6pm but will follow an alternative city centre diversion (away from The Headrow) from 12 noon onwards.

Notices will be displayed on all affected stops along The Headrow and New Briggate, but for further details and up-to-date information please visit or call the West Yorkshire Metro information line on 0113 245 7676.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472