Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Volunteers celebrate in style

Volunteers from inner north east Leeds were recently honoured at an evening of celebration at Leeds Civic Hall.

Volunteer groups from Roundhay, Chapel Allerton and Moortown were welcomed to the event by chair of the inner north east area committee, Councillor Matthew Lobley, who thanked the volunteers for the fantastic work they do in the area.

The evening got underway with a wonderful performance by the New World Steel Orchestra, from Chapeltown, followed by a poem written especially for the event praising the work done by volunteers by Patricia Jones.

There was also a special presentation by Voluntary Action Leeds to launch the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering, and a speech of appreciation by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Andrew Barker.

Councillor Barker then made a number of presentations to young people from the KICK project in recognition of their recent achievements.

There was also a marketplace style event for people to get information about funding, other volunteering opportunities and support for their groups as well as presentations by groups in the area including Meanwood Valley Partnership.

Councillor Matthew Lobley, chair of the inner north east area committee, said:
“We feel that its important to let people know that we appreciate the voluntary work they do, and this event was our way of saying thank you.

“These people have made a real difference in their local communities, and they should be proud of the contribution they have made.

“What they do on a regular basis is an example to us all and they thoroughly deserve praise and recognition for their hard work.”

This is the sixth year a ‘thank you’ event that has been held to recognise the work of voluntary groups in the inner north east area of Leeds. It is hoped that other areas in the city will hold similar events next year during the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering.

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

Light at the end of the tunnel works

Essential maintenance work to the tunnel that runs under the runway at Leeds Bradford International Airport will start in the new year.

Work to replace existing lighting in both sides of the tunnel with more efficient lighting units, that will save energy and require less ongoing maintenance, will start on Monday 4 January. The tunnel carries the very busy A658 Victoria Road to and from the airport, and in order to minimise disruption the work will be undertaken during off-peak periods and overnight.

The work will take about 10 weeks and be carried out on a shift basis, with lane closures taking place on Mondays to Fridays from 9.30am to 3.30pm, then again at 10.30pm to 4.30am.

A spokesman from the council’s highways department said:
“We apologise for any delays that may happen as a result of this essential maintenance, but are confident that the measures we are putting in place will keep disruption to a minimum. Motorists can be reassured that the works will be carried out as safely and quickly as possible.”

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

Clifford conservation area – have your say

Residents in Clifford are being asked for their views on the future of the village’s conservation area and to comment on what makes it 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 1975, but Leeds City Council is now looking to update it with the help of local people.

A public meeting will be held in Clifford Methodist Church Hall on Saturday 30 January between 10am and 2pm, where residents can meet the local community conservation officer and discuss what makes Clifford 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 which will run from Monday 21 December until Friday 5 February.

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 made this work a priority and allocated money to ensure the Clifford conservation area is up to date.

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

Council offers free parking on Boxing day

Bargain hunters in Leeds will get an extra Boxing Day bonus with the news that all 6,600 council pay and display parking spaces in the city centre, both on street and in car parks, will be free of charge on Saturday, 26 December.

Coinciding with the start of the sales, this offer will be a big help to retailers as they come to the end of what has been a really tough year, and act as a strong incentive to get people back into the city centre and spending again.

Councillor Andrew Carter, council leader and executive board member with responsibility for development said:
“It is essential that we do everything we can to help the retail trade, and I am determined that, as a council, we will pro-actively support businesses in these difficult economic times.

"We want to support the city centre retailers and restaurants that are opening on Boxing Day, and we hope that by providing shoppers with this number of free parking spaces they will be encouraged to come back into Leeds for the first day of the sales."

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Additional info

The car parks included are:

Markets, Maude Street, Portland Crescent, Claypit Lane, West Street, Burley Road, Meadow Lane, Hunslet Road, Kirkstall Road, Beckett Street and Quarry Hill.

Woodhouse Lane isn't included as it can't be opened without staff.

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

Don’t risk it, don’t flag down private hire cabs in the street

Revellers are being warned not to risk hailing private hire vehicles in the street – because they could end up having their Christmas ruined.

It’s late, there are queues at the taxi ranks and you just want to get home: you may be tempted to flag down a private hire vehicle or use one that is illegally plying for trade – but you should think twice.

Leeds City Council is warning that it is illegal and exposes passengers to extraordinary risk – using a private hire vehicle you have not pre-booked means you are not covered by their insurance, while some people plying for trade are not even licensed drivers.

Private hire cars are not allowed to pick passengers up in the street, they must be pre-booked through a licensed operator. Black and white taxis are the only licensed vehicles allowed to legally display the taxi sign and can be hired from council-run taxi ranks or hailed in the street.

More than 40 private hire vehicle drivers have been prosecuted this year for plying for hire on the street. Since November, 17 drivers in the city centre and Headingley have had their driver and vehicle licenses suspended for illegally plying for hire, and Leeds City Council is currently preparing to prosecute them.

The council regularly has to investigate allegations of assault or incorrect behaviour by taxi and private hire drivers, only to discover that the ‘cab’ was unlicensed, uninsured or had picked up in the street without being booked.

Journeys in private hire cars that are not booked with a licensed operator are not recorded and therefore cannot be easily traced.

Private hire drivers who act in this way are aware of the vulnerable position that passengers put themselves in and some may take advantage of the situation. Without the correct information from booking records, it is very difficult to trace drivers when complaints are received.

People should always ensure a private hire vehicle is pre-booked for the return journey. If using taxis, go to a well lit rank, which has CCTV, coverage. Always use marked, private hire vehicles that have been booked with their operator, or a black and white taxi. Never use illegal vehicles and make sure the driver is displaying his taxi or private hire licence number or photograph. If in doubt, do not get into any vehicle.

To catch private hire vehicles illegally plying for hire, teams of council licensing officers take high visibility enforcement action while undercover police and licensing officers regularly make ‘test purchases’ with concealed buttonhole cameras to record evidence.

Any criminal issues should be reported to the police immediately. Any other complaints should be made to Leeds City Council on 0113 2143366 or through the taxi and licensing page of the council’s website at www.leeds.gov.uk/taxis

Councillor Richard Brett, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for licensing, said:
“When it’s late at night and you just want to get home it can be very tempting to try and flag a cab down.
“But if they stop they’re breaking the law – if you get in, you’re putting yourself at risk.
“You won’t be covered by any insurance and if they’re not actually licensed cabs you can find yourself in a very difficult situation.
“It may seem like the easy option, but it’s not worth it.
“We work hard to crack down on licensed private hire drivers who stop and on unlicensed ones who pick up illegally, but people need to help us by not flagging vehicles down in the street.
“Pre-book your journey home or get a cab from a proper taxi rank and you’ll ensure you have a safe and enjoyable night out in Leeds.”

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

Leeds' crime-stoppers asked to tackle burglary hotspots

More than one in every ten calls to Crimestoppers’ national crime-reporting hotline comes from the Yorkshire and Humberside region, figures have revealed.

Now this army of crime-stopping callers is being asked to help with a campaign to target criminals in the burglary hotspots of Leeds.

Safer Leeds is working with the independent charity Crimestoppers to bring crime prevention messages to the parts of the city worst affected by burglary – which include Beeston, Holbeck, Harehills, Gipton , Hyde Park and Headingley.

The campaign – which will involve bus and radio adverts, posters, leaflets and Bluetooth – calls on the public to phone Crimestoppers with information about burglars and burglaries.

Sneak-in burglaries represent about 60 per cent of all burglaries on student homes in this Division – primarily in the Headingley and Hyde Park area.

Calls to Crimestoppers in West Yorkshire are already up by 30 per cent this year and organisers hope the Leeds campaign will generate even more response.

In the year till March 2009, Crimestoppers received 9,400 calls from people in Yorkshire and Humberside, resulting in 850 people being arrested and charged with £1.7million of property recovered as well as drugs with a street value of £2.2 million.

In West Yorkshire alone over 5,800 pieces of useful information were received, resulting in 507 people being arrested and charged. £1.4million of property was recovered and drugs with a street value of £1.2 million.

Nationally during the same period Crimestoppers received 80,608 pieces of useful information and arrested and charged 6,924 people. They recovered £5.5million of goods and £19.2 million of drugs.

Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety and the chairman of Safer Leeds, which is funding the Leeds campaign at a cost of £10,000, said:
"This is part of our ongoing strategy to tackle burglary in the city. Nationally, Crimestoppers has really helped to combat crime and I'm sure that we can work well with them to make this campaign a success in Leeds.
“We know the people of Leeds want to work with us to reduce burglary – that means taking precautions to reduce the risk of being burgled and also helping police to track down criminals.
“I’d urge anyone who has information about burglary or any other crime to call the Crimestoppers number anonymously.”

David Hunter, Regional Manager of Crimestoppers said:
“I’m particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Safer Leeds Partnership on this venture. Burglary affects individuals and families not only in the physical sense but also on a deep emotional level.
“The people of Yorkshire have always been very supportive of the Crimestoppers message, and we would encourage anybody with information about burglars, and indeed any crime, to ring the Charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
“Working alongside the Safer Leeds Partnership, Crimestoppers can give the community the opportunity to help rid their estates of crime, without fear of involvement or retribution We do not want to know who you are, just what you know."

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For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

Museum bags its fourth award

The Leeds City Museum is celebrating again as it gains another award to add to its already impressive portfolio.

The young attraction has seen 325,000 people flow through its doors since its opening in September 2008 and has gone from strength to strength as it has been awarded its fourth major award for ‘Making A Difference in Yorkshire and Humber’ at the 2009 awards.

Leeds City Museum won the award for ‘Building Cultural Spaces,’ which recognises a significant impact through cultural activities. The award was given for the Museum's community engagement programme funded through the Renaissance Yorkshire Museums Hub.

Working in Partnership with the Yorkshire Film Archive the Museum worked with different local groups to create a series of themed film exhibitions in the arena that document contemporary life in Leeds and provide a voice for local people. The films are complemented by displays of objects lent by people shown elsewhere in the museum.

The museum’s other accolades include a national accreditation from the Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) for its high standards of service, the Reader’s Award for Best Museum of the Year at this year’s National Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence and the RIBA Silver White Rose Conservation Award which they received in November 2009.

The four new awards against the young museums name rank it in a list of illustrious previous winners of the awards which include the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London, the National Science Museum and Weston Park Museum in Sheffield proves the success of the Leeds Landmark.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“The museum is a brilliant asset to the city and has really proved its popularity with awards and visitor figures in just it’s first year of opening. 2010 is going to bring a new range of excellent exhibitions and it will be great to see the museum grow from strength to strength in it’s second year.”

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Notes to editors:

Leeds Museums and Galleries comprises: Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds City Museum, Abbey House Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds Industrial Museum, Thwaite Mills Museum, Lotherton Hall, Temple Newsam House and Leeds Museum Discovery Centre. Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries

The community engagement programme included a series of themed film exhibitions documenting contemporary life in Leeds – Steps in Time, Faith in the City, and A Greener City.

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

Golden Oldies crooner cuts first album – at the age of 75

He’s too late to challenge for the Christmas number one slot and probably not the kind of act Simon Cowell is looking for, but that’s not stopped a 75-year-old amateur crooner recording his own album of ‘golden oldies’ for charity.

Keen karaoke singer Denis Brown has raised £300 for charity by laying down an album of his favourite old-time hits.

Denis, who lives in the West North West Homes Leeds-run Kendal Carr sheltered housing complex, has packed his album with hits such as ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo?’ and ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

Denis, who is a very keen walker with The West Leeds Walking Group, decided to record his favourite songs onto CD in a recording studio for his 75th birthday. He also packaged and designed covers for the CDs with the help of friends.

He is donating the proceeds to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Cancer Research charities, and has raised over £300 so far. Denis received a certificate and thank you letter from Yorkshire Air Ambulance for raising £200 for them – he even sent them copies of his CD to enjoy.

Denis said:
"My favourite track is number three – Elvis Presley’s ‘I Can't Help Falling In Love With You’ – I’ve been told mine is a better version. The CD has been selling really well, one lady at the complex even bought four!
“I'm learning musical numbers at the moment, starting with 'There's A Place For Us' from Westside Story.
"I'm not looking for fame, I just wanted to leave loved ones something to remember me by and I love singing.
“I thought the Yorkshire Air Ambulance was a really good cause, I also donated £100 to Cancer Research.
"The guys at the recording studio thought the CD idea was really good and as it was for charity as well I got money off the recording and half price CDs."

Cathy Clelland, chair of the West North West Homes Leeds board, said:
“Denis is such a character at Kendal Carr and is very well known by everyone there.
“It was a wonderful idea to donate the proceeds from the CD to charity and it’s clear that he’s proving a hit with people.
“The talent shows on television are always full of youngsters, but we all think Denis really does have the X-Factor.”

Notes for editors:
West North West 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.
West North West Homes Leeds covers the areas of Otley, Pool, Bramhope, Guiseley, Yeadon, Cookridge, Rawdon, Holt Park. Tinshill, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Burley, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Woodhouse, Wortley, Farnley, and New Farnley.

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For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

Christmas in Leeds will be a safer one this year

Leeds has seen a massive reduction in violent crime over past five years – becoming one of the safest cities in England.

Figures release show that Leeds has recorded a massive drop of 4,172 violent crime offences since 2004.

In 2005, the Home Office named Leeds as one of the top 30 cities for violence, with particular concern being given to alcohol-related violence. Nearly 18,000 offences of violence were recorded in that year, with many relating to serious assaults and woundings.

However, current figures show a reduction to under 12,500 offences to date, with major reductions in serious assaults often linked to alcohol related violence.

Initiatives such as Taxi Marshalling, Street Chaplains, investment in CCTV systems, and the current work by the police and the council’s Taxi Licensing Team to safeguard single females gives a clear message that Leeds takes safety of its residents and visitors very seriously.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety and chair of the Safer Leeds partnership between the council and the police, said:
“The hard work undertaken by the police and the Safer Leeds Partnership over the past five years confirms that Leeds is one of the safest cities to visit and enjoy a night out.
“We are proud of our achievements but we still urge people to be aware of what and how much they drink, pre-book your transport home or use the taxi ranks where Marshalls are present, and look after your personal belongings.”

Notes to editors:
• Safer Leeds is the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) dedicated to tackling drugs and crime in the city. It is a partnership between a number of local agencies including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, NHS Leeds, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and West Yorkshire Police Authority.

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For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk