Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Council chiefs to consider the future of former Royal Park school

Council chiefs will consider the future of a building which for nearly 120 years was a popular school and is now in serious need of repair.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 10 March, members will be presented with a report on the results of a tendering exercise to find a buyer for the former Royal Park School, located in the Hyde Park area of the city, close to the city centre.

The building needs costly refurbishment work before it can be brought back into use and previous proposals of the council to find viable social or community uses have been unsuccessful. In order to consider all remaining possibilities, in November 2009, the council invited best and final offers for the property on condition that it would be fully refurbished and restored within two years.

The report to executive board on Wednesday outlines a series of options for members to consider, along with the extent to which all or part of the building could be retained for community use.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member responsible for asset management said:

“The former Royal Park School is a much-loved building. Local people have sent their children there and many Leeds people have fond memories associated with it. The building has always played an important part in the local community.

“The extent to which it is made available for community use is obviously a concern for residents and we have listened carefully to their wishes.

“Our prime objective throughout this marketing process has always been to secure its restoration for future generations in the local area.”

The executive board report explains that bids have been received from three organisations interested in developing the site: two from commercial companies and one from the Royal Park Community Consortium, a company set up by a group of local residents to develop the building for community use.

Two of the bids are to purchase and restore the property on a commercial basis within two years and both have indicated that they would also consider letting some of the space within the building for community purposes. The Community Consortium has requested that it be allowed a 12 month period for fundraising to take on the whole building for community purposes, but has also expressed a willingness to enter discussions if its request for exclusive use of the building is not supported by the council.

Officers are recommending the preferred bidder if members wish to sell the building or the preferred option if members wish to secure use of part of the building for community use.

The report will be presented to members of Leeds City Council’s executive board at a meeting on Wednesday 10th March at 1pm. Copies of the report are available on the council’s website or by calling the press office on tel: 0113 2243602.


For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602

Council and Police close down Armley crackhouse

Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police have succeeded in closing a crack house in Armley .

The moves comes after complaints from local residents that they were being plagued by drug-related anti-social behaviour at 54 First Avenue in Armley .

A judge at Leeds Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday) granted an application by the council, the police and West North West Homes Leeds (WNWHL) for closure of the property, under Section 2 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 after a previous hearing had been adjourned.

The property will now remain closed for a period of three months while Leeds City Council applies for possession of the property.

On 21st December 2009 a search warrant was executed at the same address. Two women have been bailed for drug offences.

Local residents continued to report anti-social behaviour around the property with drug users abusing residents, an increase in burglaries in the area and drug users mixing with parents and children at the nearby Castleton Primary school. Used needles have been discarded onto the school playing fields, presenting a serious health risk to children. The pathways leading to 54 First Avenue have also become littered with rubbish and discarded drug paraphernalia, un-capped syringes, citric acid packets and burnt foil.

On Sunday 21st February police again searched the property and the premises was closed temporarily.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for Community Safety and chair of Safer Leeds, said:

“This is very good news for local people who have had to live alongside this property and suffer the consequences. It is important people understand that as a council we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour . “

Inspector Mark Bownass, of the West Inner Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:

“This drug den was seriously blighting the lives of local residents and, as soon as we had the evidence we needed, we worked with our partners in the local authority to get it shut down. Local people deserve to live in a safe environment and this latest action demonstrates what we can achieve by working with our partner agencies. We will keep doing all we can to respond to the concerns of the
community and would encourage people to keep telling us about the local
issues that matter most to them.”

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.

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

Breeze network transforms culture for young people in Leeds

Young people in Leeds will benefit from improved opportunities in arts and culture thanks to a groundbreaking web development which is attracting national interest.

Breeze Culture Network is the new website for professionals providing cultural opportunities for young people in Leeds. Developed by Leeds City Council and funded by Find Your Talent, the site brings together schools, children’s centres, freelance artists and arts organisations, voluntary and community groups in a growing resource which aims to improve knowledge, develop ideas and increase opportunities for young people.

An essentially simple idea, the network links professionals to a wealth of information about those working in related areas, helping communication and joint planning. The network will develop relationships between the cultural and education sectors, improving the coherence and quality of opportunities on offer to children and young people.

Councillor John Procter, executive member for leisure services, said:
“We want to ensure that every single young person in Leeds is able to access the great cultural activities on offer in the city, and that the best possible opportunities are provided by the sector. Breeze Culture Network represents part of our long term work towards reaching that goal, supporting professionals to connect effectively through partnership.”

The network is free to join and allows access to a comprehensive directory of those working in the youth and cultural sector in Leeds. Members are already uploading images and examples of their work onto online profiles, getting information about funding and jobs, and planning key events using the shared calendar. They are also publicising their events on the related Breeze Leeds website, used by children and young people, which receives over 38,000 hits a month. Until now only council-run activities appeared on Breeze, but now children, parents and schools can find wide ranging information about different opportunities across the city.

By requiring members to meet certain standards, the network also supports safeguarding, without limiting the creation of new opportunities. Smaller organisations are supported to reach these standards through free training. The technology also allows room for connections with sports clubs, centres and other activity providers, so the resource has huge additional potential.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive member for youth services, commented:
“Over 120,000 children and young people in Leeds now own a Breeze card, giving access to the Breeze website and one of the best co-ordinated activity programmes in the country. With a vast amount of background work complete, we can now make things even better for our young people by joining up with colleagues across Leeds.”
National interest in Breeze is emerging through the Find Your Talent programme, as Leeds is one of ten areas funded to develop new ways of offering creative activities for children and young people. Breeze Culture Network is seen as a key innovation in providing sustainable improvement.

To register your organisation on Breeze Culture Network visit and follow the instructions. To find activities for children and young people visit


Helping hand for businesses in Leeds to cut back on waste

Successful business is all about eliminating waste, so a new handbook is set to help Leeds businesses save money reducing theirs.

All businesses create waste, ranging from office paper to off-cuts of wood; plastic wrappers to unwanted food – and now they’re going to get information about how to save money by managing their waste better.

The Business Waste Handbook, created by Leeds City Council, provides specific information and tips for offices and businesses involved in catering, construction, retail, leisure and tourism, printing and manufacturing.

The handbook gives advice on reducing the amount of waste created, reusing materials and recycling as much as possible, as well as waste audits and a guide to legislation. There is also a list of organisations which can provide further information, guidance and funding to help businesses make changes.

The handbook is being launched this week and 4,000 copies have also been distributed to food businesses in Leeds. It will also be available in PDF format at on the commercial waste page.

Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Leeds City Council is committed to making Leeds a greener city and we want to prove to businesses that you can cut down on waste being sent to landfill and save money – they need practical advice and that’s exactly what we’re giving them.
Whether it’s help with recycling or just where to find more information, it’s all in the handbook.”

Many Leeds businesses have already started to make positive changes to their waste management. Shopping arcade The Light already recycles 90% of materials produced by its stores. However they want to go even further.

Kevin Bilclough, manager of waste at The Light, said:
“We will be using the Business Waste Handbook to find information about recycling our food waste and minimising the waste created on site.”

Leeds City Council is also helping other councils in the Yorkshire and Humber region to help their local businesses too. They have received funding through the Yorkshire and Humber Improvement Efficiency Partnership to produce customised versions of the business waste handbook for the 21 local authorities in the region to use.

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

New Garforth centre appeals to public to come forward

Caption: Alan and Margaret Ruddy with the decanter at Garforth One Stop Centre

The new one stop centre at Garforth has had its fair share of interesting stories since the opening of the building last week, with it’s first registered baby, and now two pieces of history looking for their owners.

Locals Alan and Margaret Ruddy visited the Garforth One Stop Centre on Friday 12 February to hand in some old photographs and a decanter reading 'West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council 1974 - 1986 Noel Cooper’.

The objects belonged to an old resident, Noel Cooper, whose wife Kate Cooper, died in 2004, but had asked Alan and Margaret to look after the objects and pass them on to her son David Cooper.

Alan and Margaret have been trying to contact relatives of the family, but so far have had little contact with them, and have been unable to arrange to hand over the decanter and photographs.

Also as part of the move of the one stop centre and library, staff found an old certificate, belonging to a ‘George Holmes.’ The certificate is from The National Coal Board in recognition for ‘Long & Meritorious Service’ and appreciation of his ’50 years of loyal and efficient service to The Mining Industry and the Country.’

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive board member with responsibility for one stop centres said:“It would be brilliant if we could get these items to their rightful owners. I am very pleased that Mr and Mrs Ruddy came to the new centre, and hope that we are able to assist them in getting in touch with the son of Katy Cooper.

“I would ask anyone who has information about either of these items to come forward as soon as possible to ensure the returning of these objects of family history.”

Garforth One Stop Centre would like to ask anyone with contact information for a relative of the Coopers or George Holmes to come forward. The items will be held at the Garforth One Stop Centre on Lidgett Lane, until the rightful owners comes forward.

If you have any further information please email

To find out more about the new Garforth Library and One Stop Centre visit:

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Lessons in how to do it yourself for council tenants

An empty council became a handiwork heaven for council tenants who wanted to brush up their DIY skills ahead of the spring clean.

The empty property on Ullswater Crescent in Halton Moor, managed by East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL), was transformed during 10 skills workshops in basic joinery, decorating, plastering, tiling and how to handle power tools.

ENEHL and improvement and repairs partner Connaught Partnerships Ltd provided expert tutoring for the residents on how to make improvements to their homes.

Each tenant who completed the course was provided with a free toolbox courtesy of Jewson of a tool bag, trowels, tape measure, hand saw, paint brushes, pencils, a scraper, screwdriver set and claw hammer.

In addition, one of the tenants will now be offered the opportunity to further develop their skills with Leeds College of Building, with an offer of a place on a relevant course for the most promising participant.

Angelena Fixter, chair of the East North East Homes Leeds boards, said:
“Giving our tenants the chance to learn new skills to brighten up their homes is a great new initiative.
“We are thrilled to be working with our partners in bringing DIY skills training to our customers.
“We are also delighted to be offering one of our tenants the opportunity to access a course at Leeds College of Building which could offer the opportunity of a entirely new career for one of our tenants.”

Carol Taylor, Connaught customer experience co-ordinator, said:
“It’s the time of year when many people choose to decorate in order to give their homes a new look for the year ahead but after speaking to tenants it became clear that while many had the desire to decorate their homes, they weren’t always confident that they had the required skills’.
“It was this that inspired Connaught to work with ENEHL to provide the DIY Skills Workshops and if the skills learned during these sessions can help our customers to improve their homes then we will be delighted.”

Any ENEHL tenants who would be interested in attending such a future course should please contact Abbas Shah at the ENEHL contact centre on 0800 915 1600.

ENEHL and Connaught are working in partnership to provide repairs and maintenance and voids works to Leeds City Council properties.

Notes for editors:
, a FTSE250 plc with a turnover in excess of £650M, is the UK’s leading integrated services provider operating in the social housing, public sector and compliance markets. Connaught’s service range includes planned and response maintenance; estate cleaning and grounds maintenance; gas, electrical, water and fire safety; health and safety consultancy and training.

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.

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

Young people in film premiere about anti-social behaviour

Caption: Sam, played by Ben Burman, stabs Dexy, played by Dominic Alexander

Caption: Sam, played by Ben Burman, is arrested by a policeman

Caption: young people taking part in the filming

Young people in Leeds are to be guests of honour at the premiere of a film in which they starred.

Y-ABC, which tells the story of two young people who get involved in anti-social behaviour, will be shown before an invited audience at The Hyde Park Cinema, Brudenell Road, Leeds, on Thursday 4th March at 10 a.m.

Thirty-six young people from six high schools in Leeds were involved in making the DVD, which was filmed over two days. As well as acting in the film, young people were also involved in the directing, filming and editing decisions of the final piece.

The film tells the story of close friends Dexy and Sam. Both come to the attention of the authorities after their youthful misbehaviour takes a turn for the worse, and both receive Acceptable Behaviour Contracts. For Dexy, this is a catalyst to turn his life around for the better. For Sam, it is not. The story traces their parallel lives and their very different outcomes.

The DVD was the idea of Aileen Barrass who works at Leeds City Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, who also wrote and directed it. It has been organised and produced through Safer Leeds, the city’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, with additional funding from Children’s Services and Positive Activities for Young People.

Stars Dominic Alexander and Ben Burman, who played Dexy and Sam will be among the young people at the cinema for the event.

Both Dominic and Ben are available for interview TODAY. Please contact Annie Goodyear at Safer Leeds on 224 3567.

Ben, 18, who comes from Lofthouse, near Wakefield, and attends Allerton Grange Academy in Leeds, said:
“I had to think myself into the part of someone who commits anti-social behaviour . It opened my eyes to the factors that can trigger that behaviour. I think some of it is to do with home life and some of it is because people are trying to impress their friends.”

Dominic, 20, who lives in Middleton and was a pupil at City of Leeds School when at the time he took part the filming, said:
“I loved every minute of making the film. I grew up on a council estate in Leeds and some of the people I knew then have just ended up doing drugs or doing nothing. It’s really important to make an effort to do something and go for what you want in life.”

Dominic and Ben hope to go on to become professional actors.

Aileen Barrass, Enforcement Officer for Leeds City Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Unit said:
“I wanted to make the film as part of my work with schools and youth services. I have other packages for younger children but felt something harder hitting to provoke discussion would help us engage with young people and get ideas from them about tackling anti social behaviour.
“The young people involved were enthusiastic and creative, they came up with great ideas. The team from The Production Company who filmed and edited the production were very professional and we have a great product.”

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for Community Safety and chair of Safer Leeds, said:
“This is a really original piece of work which is a credit to everyone involved.
I’m sure it will be a really useful teaching tool. We need to get young people alongside us in our drive to tackle anti-social behaviour across the city.”

A teaching pack has been prepared to accompany the DVD. It has already been successfully trialled at Prince Henry school in Otley

Julie Robinson, Student Services Manager of Prince Henry Grammar, Otley, said:
“We used the film to work with a group of young people in Year Nine, they really enjoyed the whole experience. They found the hard hitting storyline realistic and were very engaged in the problem solving work that accompanies the film.
“The children were keen to find out if there is to be a sequel as they want to know what happens next.”

Copies of the DVD and the teaching pack are available, price £15, from Hannah Jackson, Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, Springwell Road, Leeds LS12 1AX . Tel: 0113 2478728. Email:

Safer Leeds would like to thank Nicholas Deakin for providing clothes for the shoot.

Note to editors:
Press copies of the DVD are available from Annie Goodyear, Communications Officer, Safer Leeds or call 0113 2243567

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract is a voluntary agreement entered into to change behaviour for the better. ABC’s are used as an early intervention before more serious measures are used, such as ASBOs.

YABC was filmed and edited by The Production Company, Sunnybank Mills, Town St, Farsley, Leeds, LS28 5UJ

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