Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Compare the (baby) meerkats….





Caption: The new baby meerkats at Tropical World, along with an image of the meerkats being fed by Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter and Tropical World Head Animal Keeper Steve Dickie

The pitter-patter of tiny feet is to be expected as this time of year as spring approaches, but Tropical World in Leeds has some new arrivals with a difference in the form of three new-born meerkats.

The popular visitor attraction in Roundhay has seen its first success as part of a new breeding programme with three baby meerkats born to a female who was brought in to Tropical World from the Cotswold Wildlife Park before Christmas.

The new arrivals are just four weeks old and have only this week started to be brought to the surface of the meerkat enclosure by their mother. The first three weeks of their lives have been spent completely underground in their burrows under her protection.

The babies are not yet old enough for their sexes to be determined but mature quickly as they reach adulthood in just 12 months. They spend the first six weeks of life totally dependent on their mother, but will then quickly acquire a taste for worms and grubs. The adult members of the colony at Tropical World will act as babysitters and teachers showing the newcomers how to forage and find food, while visitors will also see the new trio playfighting as they learn together and grow stronger.

The trio are the first meerkats to be born at Tropical World in over 10 years, and with the gestation period for a meerkat being short at 75 days, the animal keepers are hopeful of seeing this success repeated with more new arrivals later in the year.

The baby meerkats are just the latest in an exciting group of new arrivals to Tropical World in recent months. In November a rare albino Burmese Python which measures approximately 11 feet long and a Yellow Anaconda which is almost five feet long arrived from Scotland.

This was followed a month later by the arrival of three young Morelet’s Crocodiles which have proved hugely popular with visitors of all ages as for the first time ever a Leeds visitor attraction is now home to three resident crocodiles.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome these wonderful new baby meerkats for everyone to see and hopefully they are the first of many.

“Together with the new snakes and the amazing popularity of the young crocodiles, Tropical World is better than ever in terms of being a great place to visit for all the family. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing these exciting changes about but everyone can see it has been well worth it and hopefully there are even more to come!”

Notes to editors:

Located opposite Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants outside Kew Gardens and also houses birds, butterflies, fish, other reptiles, nocturnal monkeys and bats.

Tropical World was officially renamed ‘The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World’ in 2008 in honour of the local benefactors for their lifelong support for the area and the city.

For further information on Tropical World and its opening hours go to www.leeds.gov.uk/tropicalworld or call 0113 214 5715.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

How much energy are you wasting ? Here's how to find out...


Caption: The energy readers can now be borrowed from libraries in Leeds

Anyone interesting in finding out just how much wasted energy their household appliances are costing them each day can now do so by borrowing special energy readers from libraries in Leeds.

As part of the drive to improve energy efficiency and protect the environment, Leeds Library and Information Service has now taken on a stock of energy readers which show how much energy an appliance is using and how much it is costing when it is switched on and also how much is being wasted when it is left on in standby mode.

The readers can monitor any electrical appliance from washing machines and tumble driers to lighting and heating as well as everyday items like kettles, mobile phone chargers, hair straighteners and games consoles.

These monitors can now be borrowed free of charge for a week by all Leeds library members and are available from 22 libraries across the city. The project follows a successful pilot scheme carried out last year in Otley organised by Leeds City Council, Otley Town Council and SURE (Sustainable and Renewable Energy in Wharfedale).

The pilot produced hugely encouraging results, and if those results are matched by the new readers each home could see a reduction in electricity use of 5% which across Leeds has the potential to save 772,200 kilowatt hours per year which equates to 404 tonnes less carbon dioxide being produced.

The readers show the cost of using an appliance as well as leaving it on in standby mode, so therefore encourages users to make sure household products such as washing machines and dishwashers are being used with full loads each time as well as things being switched off properly when not in use to save money and energy.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that UK households now spend up to 8% of their electricity bill on standby power, which is taken across the country is equivalent to the annual output from two-and-a-half large power stations. Leaving lights on unnecessarily is another big energy waster, costing the UK £170m pounds each year.

The new service also fits in with the international WWF Earth Hour which takes place on Saturday 27th March. Some of the world’s most iconic landmarks will be joined by buildings all over the world, including those managed by Leeds City Council, in turning their lights completely off for one hour to promote the campaign against climate change.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are pleased to be able to offer these new energy readers for our library users to try out. With these readers you can actually see for yourself how much energy you are using and possibly wasting and what it is costing you.

“I am keen to try one out for myself at home as I’m sure like most people I will be shocked at the figures. We all need to do our bit for the environment so using these free readers is a great way to start and may also help you reduce your energy bills too so can bring real benefits in both respects.”

For more information on the energy readers, contact Leeds City Council’s Sustainability Communications Officer Amanda Burns on 0113 247 5704 or email amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk

Notes to editors:

The energy readers can be borrowed free of charge from local libraries for one week. Should the reader not be returned in time, late return fees will apply. If a library does not have a reader, staff will be able to advise where the nearest library is which has one available.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Kids ‘scoot’ to school in east Leeds




Caption: Spike the road safety hedgehog, Cllr Stuart Andrew, Nieve Deighton and Daniel Illingworth at the scoot to school launch

Pupils from Templenewsam Halton Primary School in Leeds are doing their bit to cut traffic around their school by ditching journeys by car in favour of a more healthy alternative.

The school has signed up to pilot the ‘scoot to school’ scheme, which gives pupils the chance to loan micro-scooters to travel to and from classes on, in a bid to cut congestion and improve road safety in the area.

The ‘scoot to school’ scheme is part of a wider project, which aims to reduce the number of cars on the roads for the school run. A brand new yellow bus service is also now stopping at the school, and the children have set up a reward scheme where classes that reduce car travel the most win a prize. So setting a good example has never been so rewarding!

Scooter sheds have been provided for the scooters to be stored in during the day, and the children have all taken part in safety training delivered by the council’s road safety team. The aim of the scheme is to encourage more children to get active and have some fun on their way to school, whilst helping to reduce traffic and improve the local environment.

Councillor Stuart Andrew, lead member with responsibility for travel and transport said:
“We are very excited about this scooter trial, and I would like to thank Templenewsam Halton Primary School for agreeing to take part and for their enthusiasm about the scheme. Projects like this are a great way to encourage parents and children to change the way they choose to travel. They also support the school’s travel plan, which aims to increase the numbers of children, walking, scooting and cycling to school."

Staff at Templenewsam Halton Primary school are also getting involved, with some members of staff signing up to the ‘Bike to Work’ scheme offered by Leeds City Council.

Kay Crellin, headteacher of the school said:
“We are always keen to support walk to school initiatives, as they make such a positive contribution to keeping our children healthy and safe. Our children and their parents are very enthusiastic about the ‘scoot to school’ scheme, and the ‘My Bus’ scheme is being well used and the children really enjoy it.

“We hope that these initiatives will help to reduce the number of cars on the roads around our school, and make journeys at the start and the end of the school day safer for our children.”

Leeds NHS are also taking a keen interest in the trial which they are expecting will improve the fitness of children taking part.

Jan Burkhardt of the NHS said:
“NHS Leeds views active travel as crucial to tackling childhood obesity and increasing physical activity levels of children. The scoot to school initiative has great potential to increase active travel to school, and is fun and appealing to children and their parents. It is also currently a safer option than cycling to school in areas where cycling may not be appropriate for young children. We fully support this initiative and would ideally like to see it evaluated and rolled out to other areas”

ENDS
Notes to editors

The yellow bus and School Reward Scheme started in early January and Templenewsam Halton Primary is already seeing a reduction in the number of pupils travelling to school by car.

The initial results of the trial and the effectiveness of scooter travel to school can be, will be known after Easter 2010.

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

New housing unveiled in Pudsey




Caption: (from left) Councillor Andrew Carter, local resident Alwyne Halls, Accent Homes' director of development and asset manager Stuart Whyte and resident Sue Holmes outside the new bungalows on Chaucer Gardens.

The people of Pudsey got their first chance to look around a new development of affordable housing in west Leeds.

Leeds City Council unveiled the homes for older people at Chaucer Gardens in Pudsey – the first scheme to completed under the city’s Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership.

The scheme at Chaucer Gardens comprises six two-bedroom bungalows for shared ownership and 10 two-bedroom social rented apartments. The scheme is intended for people age 55 and over.

The partnership was established to make use of council-owned land and attract public funding so that more affordable housing can be built. For the first phase of schemes, Accent Housing Association was appointed as the council’s development partner and they are currently working on seven sites across the city.

Working in partnership with Accent, a Local Allocations Plan has been developed to provide suitable nominations. This will increase the chances of a more balanced and sustainable community. Preference will also be given to people from the Pudsey area.

The council has been working very closely with Accent to offer local apprentices work on all the new affordable housing development sites across the city. Accent contractors Lovells ensure a minimum of 10% of the total workforce for each site is made up of local residents. Another requirement is that a minimum of two local residents shall be trainees.

Lovell has been working closely with the trainees to ensure they undertake a programme of training leading to a recognised qualification. This approach ensures that local people are given the opportunity to work on the new developments as well as learn new skills and trades.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for affordable housing, said:
“This was a great opportunity for us to have a look at these new homes.
“These properties have been provided through our Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership, using plots of council-owned brownfield land across the city to provide affordable homes for local people.
“I’m delighted that Chaucer Gardens is the first site to come to fruition through the partnership, with many more to come – proving that we are finding alternative and innovative ways to create more affordable housing in the city.”

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

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: End of an era for 1960s towers

Five landmark tower blocks in Leeds – Holbeck Towers, Gaitskell Court and Grange – are coming down to make way for new, modern homes as part of the first major council housing building programme for decades.

Leeds City Council is clearing these outdated blocks to make the site available for a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) housing project due to start next year.

The project includes the building of new council homes, refurbishment of existing council homes and environmental improvements. The redevelopment of 275 new homes across a number of sites in Beeston Hill & Holbeck will help bring a new lease of life to the area.

**************** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY ****************

WHAT: Press are invited to a unique photo opportunity from the roof of a neighbouring tower block to record the demolition of the first of the five towers, by a giant ‘nibbler’ machine
WHERE: Meynell Heights, Holbeck, Leeds
WHEN: 10am, Friday 12th March

The design of the new homes will comply with high standards of energy efficiency, safety and security and the living spaces will be adaptable in order to meet the different needs of individuals or families over a lifetime. The proposals are for a mix of flats and family housing enabling people with growing families to stay in the area and remain part of the community.

All former residents have been successfully re-housed by Aire Valley Homes Leeds with all those wishing to stay in the area being able to do so.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing said:
“The demolition signifies the end of an era but also progress in addressing housing needs for how we live today and for future generations.
“Holbeck Towers have had their day and decline, for many reasons over the years, has been apparent.
“It is no longer cost effective to refurbish these blocks due to the way they were built so it is a great opportunity to build brand new council housing.
“Holbeck Towers are a prominent landmark in the city and visible on the approach to Leeds. At this gateway site we want to build quality housing that gives a positive impression of the city.”

Edith Craighead, who moved into Holbeck Towers in 1960 and lived there for 48 years, said:
“When I first moved in I felt I was living up in the air – nearly to heaven. There were nice neighbours and people seemed to stay but in later years it wasn’t the same.
“I am pleased that houses are going to be built on this site; with streets people helped each other more.”

Notes to Editors
The Regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck

Leeds City Council is making a major contribution to the regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The council has been awarded PFI credits by the government and is now undertaking the procurement of a contractor for the works.

The PFI contract with the private sector will be for the construction of new council homes, refurbishment of council properties, some environmental improvements and maintenance of all elements over a 20 year period. The PFI regeneration project contributes to the wider regeneration plans for Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

The partnership arrangement
The regeneration of Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck is being led by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) which are not-for-profit companies set up by the council to manage and improve council housing stock.

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

Council and police drive to cut congestion

Drivers causing disruption across the city centre were the target of a joint agency operation over the weekend.

The city partnership between Leeds City Council and the City Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), involved enforcement officers cracking down on drivers and issuing a total of 144 tickets for a variety of offences, and suspending 14 private hire vehicles on the night pending further investigation.

The partnership is working to take action against vehicles and drivers causing disruption and congestion at numerous city centre locations during the evenings and into the early hours over weekends.

Checks were in place for any private hire vehicles plying for hire around the city. This act is illegal and creates safety issues for passengers, as they are uninsured when not pre-booked. Over 30 private hire drivers were approached on the night, with none of the drivers picking up any of the officers.

The joint operations will be a regular event, with officers looking at vehicles that are in breach of parking regulations, for example parking on junctions or over bus stops, and over ranking on taxi ranks and also plying for hire.


Councillor Richard Brett, Leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for taxi licensing, said:


“We have worked closely with the neighbourhood policing team and parking services to monitor vehicles throughout the city centre, especially repeat offenders. The first operation has been a great success and we will continue to monitor the situation.

“We ask the public to continue to be vigilant when choosing a taxi to get into, and that private hire should be pre-booked wherever possible, and if not, that they only hail black and white taxis in the street.

“Private hire drivers that have legitimate booked fares in the city centre and park responsibly when picking up, dropping off or waiting for their customers are not to be discouraged from working. But those drivers who are in the city without a booking and cause unnecessary congestion will be approached and checked by the team of officers. Any breach of regulations will be dealt with accordingly.”

Chief Inspector Vernon Francis, who is responsible for policing in Leeds city centre, said:

“We appreciate that these are difficult times economically for drivers of taxis and private hire cars, but they have a key part to play in keeping traffic flowing in the and ensuring city centre roads don’t become congested and it is important that they stick to the rules.

“By working together with Leeds City Council to take action against those who break the laws or the conditions of their licence we can put a stop to these problems and reduce congestion on the city centre roads. The weekend’s operation was a great success and we enjoyed some great feedback from members of the public who commented on the huge difference it had made.”

Notes to editors:

The joint working partnership involves Leeds City Council’s taxi & private hire licensing and parking services departments and the City Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT).

For more information about the City NPT, visit www.wypnpt.org and click the links to 'City and Holbeck' and 'City’.


Ends
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY TODAY: New housing unveiled in Pudsey

The people of Pudsey will get their first chance to look around a new development of affordable housing in west Leeds today.

Leeds City Council is unveiling the homes for older people at Chaucer Gardens in Pudsey – the first scheme to completed under the city’s Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership.

**************** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY ****************

WHAT: The new affordable homes at Chaucer Gardens will be opened for councillors and local people to view
WHERE: Chaucer Gardens, Pudsey, Leeds
WHEN: 11.30am, Wednesday 10th March

The scheme at Chaucer Gardens comprises six two-bedroom bungalows for shared ownership and 10 two-bedroom social rented apartments. The scheme is intended for people age 55 and over.

The partnership was established to make use of council-owned land and attract public funding so that more affordable housing can be built. For the first phase of schemes, Accent Housing Association was appointed as the council’s development partner and they are currently working on seven sites across the city.

Working in partnership with Accent, a Local Allocations Plan has been developed to provide suitable nominations. This will increase the chances of a more balanced and sustainable community. Preference will also be given to people from the Pudsey area.

The council has been working very closely with Accent to offer local apprentices work on all the new affordable housing development sites across the city. Accent contractors Lovells ensure a minimum of 10% of the total workforce for each site is made up of local residents. Another requirement is that a minimum of two local residents should be trainees.

Lovell has been working closely with the trainees to ensure they undertake a programme of training leading to a recognised qualification. This approach ensures that local people are given the opportunity to work on the new developments as well as learn new skills and trades.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for affordable housing, said:
“This will be a great opportunity for us to have a look at these new homes.
“These properties have been provided through our Strategic Affordable Housing Partnership, using plots of council-owned brownfield land across the city to provide affordable homes for local people.
“I’m delighted that Chaucer Gardens is the first site to come to fruition through the partnership, with many more to come – proving that we are finding alternative and innovative ways to create more affordable housing in the city.”

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