Thursday, 4 February 2010

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: Little London tower block demolition to begin

The demolition of selected tower blocks across Leeds as part of a major housing regeneration project will begin on Thursday 11 February in Little London, with the first ‘bite’ into Carlton Towers using specialist machinery.

The high-reach machine is one of only two in the country that can reach to a height of nearly 50 meters, as tall as 10 double decker buses. It will remove the top layers of the tower block by nibbling away at the building.

The demolition of these outdated blocks is being undertaken by Leeds City Council in advance of the appointment of a contractor for the building of new council homes and refurbishment of existing council homes as part of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project. Holbeck Towers, Gaitskell Court and Grange in Holbeck are also due for demolition starting March this year.

WHAT: Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for Neighbourhoods and Housing and Lloyd Lythe, one of the first residents of to live in Carlton Towers, will be available for a photo and interviews as the machine takes the first ‘bite’ of the building
WHEN: Thursday 11 February, 9.50am arrival for 10am photo opportunities
WHERE: Carlton Towers – site entrance on Carlton Carr, Little London
PARKING: West North West Homes Leeds Housing Office car park, Oatland Drive, LS7 1SH

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

Two firms in the running for new waste treatment facility

A shortlist of two companies, bidding to build and run a new treatment facility in Leeds to deal with rubbish that is not recycled, will be presented to senior councillors next week.

Leeds City Council's executive board is being updated on the project’s progress when it meets on Friday (12th).

The process to find a contractor to build a waste treatment facility started in July 2008, and a wide range of companies initially put bids forward.

These were shortlisted to four in summer 2009. Following a further evaluation process the four submissions were reduced to two. The remaining bidders will now be asked to refine their solutions with a final decision expected in early 2011.

The two firms in the running are Aire Valley Environmental and Veolia ES Aurora.

Aire Valley Environmental is proposing to construct a facility on part of the site of the existing Knostrop wastewater treatment works, handling around 230,000 tonnes of Leeds’ waste every year.

Veolia’s proposal is to build a facility on the former wholesale market site on Pontefract Lane in Cross Green, which will handle around 190,000 tonnes of Leeds’ waste per year.

Both bidders propose similar technologies, mechanically removing even more materials for recycling before burning the remaining waste to generate electricity to the national grid (known as energy from waste).

As well as being updated on the bidding process, the executive board is also being asked to agree to formally drop plans to build a dedicated waste transfer station on Evanston Avenue in Kirkstall.

After receiving more details about the costs of developing the site, council officers have concluded that it wouldn’t be value for money.

The council has already begun talking to local residents and businesses about the proposals and this will continue throughout the year. Between now and the autumn more detailed information about the plans, the bidders and the chosen treatment technologies will be released.

Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member with responsibility for environmental services said:

“We can no longer simply bury thousands of tonnes of rubbish in landfill sites, we have to find another – sustainable – way of dealing with Leeds’ waste.

“That of course – does include recycling even more in Leeds and we’ve set ourselves the target of at least 50 per cent by 2020. However there will still be waste that is not recycled and we cannot continue to bury this in the ground.

“We are now at an important stage of the process to build this new waste treatment facility.

“Narrowing down the shortlist to the final two bidders is significant, because now we know what type of technology will be used and two possible sites.

“Now, we need to continue to explain both proposals to local residents and businesses so they understand what is going on and what will happen next.

“The importance of this facility to assist us, along with recycling, deal with the rubbish we produce every day, can’t be underestimated.

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council (0113) 395 0393

Changing the way Leeds City Council works in future

Proposals to completely change the way Leeds City Council works in future will go before the authority’s ruling executive board next week.

Councillors will be presented with a report on a project called ‘changing the workplace’ on Friday (12th).

It sets out how the authority could adapt in future to better meet the demand for the services it provides.

The report includes proposals about further developing new ways of working and how resources might be used differently.

One aspect is office space. Currently, the council has 14 buildings in the centre of Leeds with almost 4000 members of staff spread across them.

The plans include reducing the number of buildings the authority occupies to five and cutting the amount of office space by a quarter.

In addition, the council is proposing to find enough office space – in one single location – to house the majority of its city centre staff.

The proposals would also see more employees working from home and away from the office, supported by modern technology, including voice over internet (VOIP) calling, with remote and secure access to the council’s IT network.

It is estimated as much as £87 million pounds (at today’s prices) could be saved over 25 years by working in new ways and reducing the council’s office accommodation, despite the investment that would be required in technology and any new building.

Efficiencies would be achieved by having one set of ‘behind the scenes’ functions such as reception, post room and security.

For staff it would mean a new approach to working, using offices much more effectively. Facilities would be shared and used flexibly. Where possible, or appropriate, staff would also be able to work from home more often.

The changes would also have a massive, positive, impact on the environment – with fewer car journeys into and out of the city centre. It’s estimated carbon emissions could be cut by up to 40 per cent.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member with responsibility for resources said:

“Gone are the days where a council would have buildings full of people working from behind a desk all day.

“We need to be much more flexible in our future approach – and that means enabling more of our staff to be out and about, delivering services where they are actually needed.

“As a result it’s only right that we review the amount of office space we need.

“Reducing our property portfolio and leaving or selling buildings we no longer require will also save many millions of pounds in the coming years."

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council (0113) 395 0393

Julian Clary tour date in Leeds

Caption: Julian Clary (credit to JJ Waller)

Julian Clary: Lord of The Mince
Saturday 20 February, 8PM. All Tickets £20
The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD

Julian Clary will be in Leeds this February for a special gig at the Carriageworks which is part of his extensive UK tour.

The latest big-name comedian to visit the Carriageworks, Julian’s fans are sure to be excited by the celebrity entertainer’s return to his stand-up roots, in a performance that reflects on his years in show business as he reaches his 50th birthday.

Clary is the latest in a series of top entertainers to perform at The Carriageworks, which is fast earning a reputation as an intimate venue in which to catch some of the country’s top comedy talent. Last year saw visits from Eddie Izzard and Simon Amstell, and during the summer the theatre will play host to Katy Brand (3 June) and Reginald D Hunter (12 June).

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“It’s a testament to how far The Carriageworks has come in the few short years since it opened that it can attract artists of this calibre. The theatre is going from strength-to-strength and is sure to have another hit on its hands with the visit of Julian Clary.”

Since graduating from Goldsmiths College University, London in the Eighties with a degree in English Drama, Julian Clary has gone on to become one of the country’s most recognisable entertainers, and during his 17 years in the business has turned his hand to comedy, acting, presenting, writing and even performing as a novice dancer on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, where he reached the final.
Julian has appeared on Television programmes ranging from Friday Night Live (Ch4), Sticky Moments and Terry and Julian, It’s Only TV But I Like It, four ITV Christmas pantomimes, Come And Have A Go and Who Do You Think You Are? for BBC1.
For more information on the Carriageworks visit

Notes to editors:

1. Press tickets and interviews available on request. Tickets available from the Box Office on 0113 2243801 or online at

2. The Carriageworks is a thriving theatre at the heart of Leeds’ Millennium Square. It showcases the best new national and regional performance 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.

Julian Clary

He has toured the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand many times and also appeared in Boy George’s memorable West End musical, Taboo and as the Emcee in Cabaret at London’s Lyric Theatre. His indelible impact on the entertainment world was recognised in 2001 when he was awarded ‘the big red book’ by Michael Aspel on This Is Your Life.
His autobiography, A Young Man's Passage, was published by Ebury Press in June 2006 and was a Sunday Times bestseller, and his first novel, Murder Most Fab, was published in 2007. He has just finished dancing with Lilia Kopylova on the Strictly Come Dancing Live tour and his second novel, Devil In Disguise, is published by Ebury Press in May 2009.


For media enquiries please contact:
Catherine Milburn,
Learning and Leisure Communications Assistant
on 0113 247 8285

Leeds councillors asked to approve a 2.5 per cent council tax rise

Leeds City Council’s track record for setting some of the lowest council tax rates in the country will continue this year if councillors approve a proposed budget.

It would see the council’s portion of the bill rising by just 2.5 per cent - the lowest increase for 15 years.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member for resources says the work to agree a budget for the coming financial year has been ‘much tougher than before’ and involved some ‘very difficult decisions’.

As well as reduced government grants, the council’s income is much lower than in previous years because of the current economic conditions.

Revenue from various sources has dropped significantly. The recession has also seriously affected the council’s ability to generate money from the sale of surplus land and buildings, which in the past has been used to invest in services.

Despite that, demand for council services has increased as a direct result of the state of the economy. That has stretched the finances even more than usual.

The 2010 budget includes plans to achieve further savings in things like so-called ‘back office’ functions. At the same time, significant investment is proposed in a number of areas, not least in protecting vulnerable children and adults in Leeds.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“2009 was a tough year financially for many people in Leeds and it was tough for the council as well.

“Our income is down too and that means our resources are under a great deal of pressure because of our commitment to deliver first class services to our city.

“Despite that, we’re proposing another year of low council tax increases.

“2.5 per cent isn’t going to be easy for us – we could really do with more, but a higher increase wouldn’t be fair on the hard-pressed people of Leeds.”

Councillor Brett added:

“Setting the 2010 budget has been extremely tough.

“We’ve had to look very closely at what the council does and where it spends its money and that has resulted in some difficult decisions.

“The current economic conditions present us with a significant challenge, but our proposals will still enable the council to maintain and even improve services.

“Keeping the council tax increase as low as possible has also been a priority, so we don’t add to the burden of people in Leeds who are struggling financially.”

Leeds City Council’s executive board will discuss the 2010 budget proposals and council tax increase when it meets on Friday February 12. A final vote will be taken at a gathering of all of the city’s councillors on February 24.

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council (0113) 395 0393