Thursday, 7 January 2010

Important information regarding changes to gritting in Leeds

As a result of national grit shortages and the ongoing cold weather, only Leeds’ main roads will be gritted from tonight (Thursday).

Because of the ongoing cold weather – which is now in its third week – a decision has been taken to preserve grit stocks to ensure it does not run out before further deliveries are made.

Leeds City Council currently has enough salt to grit the city’s 800 mile long primary road network at least twice a day - including just before each morning rush hour – for at least the next 10 days.

As of tonight (Thursday) the council will be unable to respond to requests for the salting of footways and will not be gritting secondary routes or refilling grit bins across the city.

Leeds City Council started off the winter with 21,000 tonnes of salt in stock - having used only 20,000 tonnes throughout all of last winter. At 7am this morning (Thursday 7 January) only 4,300 tonnes remained.

Since the cold weather started, the city has used an average of 620 tonnes a day – and at least half of this has gone on secondary routes, gritting footways, refilling grit bins and lending grit to neighbouring authorities whose stocks had already reached critical levels.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council, said:“The forecast is for conditions to remain cold for at least another two weeks and we have to ensure we can keep the main roads salted for the whole of this period.

“Given the shortage of salt across the country, it is now essential we conserve salt supplies where possible – which regrettably means we cannot continue with the current level of service.

“We are in a far better position than most other authorities in the region and a delivery of salt is due next week. However, the government has now taken control of salt distribution and the planned delivery may not materialise so we have no choice but to take this decision.”

Local people are advised to check www.leeds.gov.uk, www.leedstravel.info and to regularly check the local media about road and weather conditions and to take extra care when traveling across the local area.

ENDS

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

Care continues in spite of extreme weather conditions

Home care workers and staff delivering meals to older, disabled and people who are ill are battling through snow and ice to make sure that this vulnerable group receive the care they need in the arctic weather conditions.

Staff across the whole of the council’s adult social care services and private and voluntary sector care services have been up against some really treacherous conditions, but have continued to make home visits to make sure that the people in their care are safe.

Councillor Peter Harrand, Leeds City Council’s executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care today praised home care, meals on wheels deliverers and all workers who are battling ice and snow to make sure older, disabled or ill people are not made more vulnerable by the arctic weather conditions. He said:

“Staff all across the council’s adult social care service as well as those in private and voluntary sector care services have faced extremely difficult conditions making home visits through snow-covered side streets and slippery garden paths.

“Managers have worked hard to negotiate with customers when the times of visits have had to change because of unavoidable delays and the customers themselves have responded wonderfully because they realise the difficult conditions our staff have been working under.”

But he went on to say that there are many older people who do not receive council services and who may be having difficulty getting to shops, post offices and GP surgeries.

Councillor Harrand continued:
“I am asking all able-bodied people to think about their neighbours and people in their street. Do they need a hand with shopping? Is their home warm enough? I know that lots of us do this already, but the more of us that do it the better. Extremes of cold and bad weather can make a frail or disabled person become vulnerable very quickly and it’s important that we all do our bit to keep them safe from harm.”

ENDS
Additional info


Position in relation to adverse weather conditions w/c 4 January 2010

Day services
All council day centres are closed and severe weather protocols have been implemented. This means that
• All users and carers have been contacted to ensure that they have food, and warmth.
• Where it is not possible to make contact a home visit will be made by staff from the centre to ensure food and warmth is available.
• Centres are liaising with home care / community support to ensure that all needs are being met.

Residential care homes
So far the severe weather has not impacted on council-run residential care homes. Local managers are checking with staff on late or night shifts to ensure they can reach their place of work. Where necessary transport will be arranged to make sure staff can attend for their shift.

Community Support Service
• No scheduled visits are being cancelled without discussion with the customer and / or carer. Care is being taken to ensure no one needing personal care is left without a visit.
• Customers / relatives are being kept informed and updated of the situation regarding any change to the times.
• Support administrators are contacting customers if there is likely to be a change to the times of their scheduled visits exceeding thirty minutes.

Help with meals and personal care is being offered to people who are not attending day centres.

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

There's No Business Like Snow Business

Snow White and her fellow cast members ensured the show did go on as they braved the cold weather to perform to an audience of just nine people yesterday (Wednesday 6th January).

Despite the snow, a group of four adults and five children made it to The Carriageworks to see the Leeds' theatre's seasonal pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for a fabulous show, followed by a special meeting with the cast.

With treacherous conditions bringing much of the country to a standstill, these nine adventurous audience members decided they wouldn't let the weather beat them and turned out in full voice to support and enjoy the pantomime.

The Carriageworks was one of the very few theatres open yesterday, for a spectacular show that kicked off the final week of the pantomime.

The annual pantomime has had its most successful year ever, with over 16,500 people attending, with their festive cheers and boos raising the roof of a packed Carriageworks house.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter, said:
“It is fabulous that the Carriageworks was open to entertain this enthusiastic audience. From the sounds of it, it was a great show, and I am sure the cast did a brilliant job.”

Mrs Marilyn Cohen, one of the nine audience members, from Alwoodley, Leeds, took her three year old granddaughter Leyla Rose Cohen to see the pantomime.

Marilyn said:

“It was a wonderful experience and the best pantomime I have ever been to. It was brilliant being one of only a few people, as Muddles kept calling out Leyla’s name - and she even got a kiss from the Prince at the end! It was truly magical to see her face throughout the show and we both thoroughly enjoyed the panto.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is in its final week of performances and will end on Saturday 9 January 2010.

Tickets are still available and are on sale from the City Centre Box Office by calling 0113 224 3801. They can also be booked online by visiting the Carriageworks website at www.carriageworkstheatre.org.


Ends

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

Leeds on ice, skating not stirred



Caption: Skaters on the Ice Cube in Millennium Square

Skate another day as the Ice Cube makes its return to Millennium Square for a special tenth anniversary season and tests the balance and skating skills of locals.

The coolest winter attraction around and an official double World Record holder , the Ice Cube will also boast a free extreme winter scene large-scale photographic exhibition around its perimeter.

Displaying stunning large-scale images from award-winning wildlife photographer Andy Rouse the free exhibition will run around the perimeter of the Ice rink together with a gallery shop and public café area overlooking the ice.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“It is great to see this hugely popular attraction back in Leeds to celebrate it’s tenth anniversary. The Ice Cube is fun for all ages and it is fantastic to see friends and families alike enjoying themselves skating around Millennium square.”

Skating Lessons and registration for 6 week Skate UK programme are still available for those who want to choose a different form of exercise to loose some of those excess Christmas pounds this Year, so get those skates on and book your session early. For further information call the box office on 0113 2243801.

Organised by Leeds City Council’s events team with support from media partners 96.3 Radio Aire and the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Ice Cube is the largest temporary outdoor skating rink in the UK with over 1200 square metres of ready to skate-on real ice.

In 2001 over 25,000 people strapped on their skates for the very first time and since then, in excess of ½ million people have taken to the ice in search of the unique thrills and excitement afforded by outdoor ice skating.

Ice Cube opens on Saturday 16 January and runs up until Sunday 7 March 2010 with up to seven public skating sessions available every day between 10am – 9.30pm Monday – Saturday and 10am to 7.30pm on Sundays.

Discounted tickets are available for all LeedsCard holders, BreezeCard members and group bookings for non-profit making organisations and there is also a special family ticket available. Advance bookings and registration for the Skate UK tuition programme are available online at www.leeds.gov.uk/icecube or by calling the box office on 0113 224 3801.


Notes to editors:

Skating lessons
Beginner lessons, aimed at people of all ages, will take place every Saturday morning from 23rd January 2010 for six weeks, with intermediate classes for those who are more confident on the ice taking place on Sunday mornings from 24th January for six weeks.

The tickets will be allocated on a first come first served basis, with bookings closing on Friday 22nd January 2010. Tickets will be available from the City Centre Box Office in the Carriageworks, at a cost of £69 (inc VAT) for all 6 lessons and this includes a free skate in the proceeding 10.00 – 12.00 public skating session and presentation of an official Skate UK certificate upon completion of the course. For further information call the box office on 0113 2243801.


Ends

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

Report highlights improvements made and remaining challenges in children’s services in Leeds

STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 THURSDAY JANUARY 7

Report highlights improvements made and remaining challenges in children’s services in Leeds


Improvements are being made in children’s social care services in Leeds, but further work is required. That’s the judgement of the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, in a joint report published today.

Inspectors from both organisations spent several days in the city during November and December 2009 as part of a detailed review called an announced inspection. They focussed, in particular, on safeguarding issues and how children in care are looked after.

Overall, whilst safeguarding was not yet judged to be adequate, services for looked after children were judged to be ‘grade three’, which means they meet the minimum standards required.

And, importantly on the safeguarding front, in the judgement areas of children and young people being and feeling safe, the council’s services were now assessed as being adequate.

There was praise for the way youngsters being cared for by the council are encouraged and helped to lead healthy lives and also do well at school, both of which were rated as ‘good’.

The way senior managers prioritise work, partnerships with other organisations, such as the NHS and the promotion of equality and diversity issues were also highlighted as examples of good work – achieving an overall ‘grade two’ rating.

However, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission say that more needs to be done to improve how managers plan their staffing needs and how performance is assessed and managed. There is also a recommendation to immediately review resources, to make sure there are enough people in place to meet the demands faced by the service, now and in the future.

The inspectors also say that more should be done to involve children and young people in how future services are developed and – where possible – to recruit extra families and carers from minority ethnic communities.

Since aspects of safeguarding were reviewed in an unannounced inspection in July, both Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission acknowledge that much has been done, saying ‘the council has responded well’ and ‘taken swift action’.

The report says ‘poor staff performance is being addressed and systems and processes have already been redesigned’. It concludes that ‘these early successes demonstrate the council can make improvements’.

The way the council works with partners in the NHS is highlighted as good and there is praise for the contribution made by Education Leeds to the ‘broader safeguarding agenda’.

Councillor Stewart Golton, executive board member with responsibility for children’s services said:“I’m pleased that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission acknowledge that we are making progress and we have the capacity to do more.

“This latest report confirms what we have been doing – with positive progress being made, but still much to be done to further improve the way we look after and support children and young people in Leeds.

“While an ‘inadequate’ rating for the overall effectiveness of safeguarding services isn’t good news, positive progress is being made.

“For instance, the inspectors judged that the effectiveness of services in taking reasonable steps to ensure children and young people are safe is adequate.

“And it goes without saying that improving services for the children and young people of Leeds remains a top priority for the council.”

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk