Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Animal magic coming to Pudsey


Caption: Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Andrew Carter (left) and executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter (right) inside one of the aviaries in the new centre

The finishing touches are currently being applied to the latest Leeds visitor attraction ahead of its grand opening at the end of the month.

The much-anticipated West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre at Pudsey Park is undergoing final preparations as it gets ready to open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday 27th March.

The new visitor centre will be free to enter and is located in the former aviary building at Pudsey Park, which has been extended and refurbished in a project managed by Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside Service.

The new-look building is a celebration of the diverse range of wildlife and habitats to be found along the West Leeds Country Park – a 32km circular trail which runs from the city centre through a green corridor heading towards Bradford before looping back towards Leeds taking in a path past the historic Kirkstall Abbey and the picturesque Leeds-Liverpool Canal along the River Aire.

The visitor centre contains snapshots of key habitats along the route of the country park, with native wildlife on display including rabbits, harvest mice, brown rats, birds, moths, butterflies and fish.

The distinct sections of the centre include a stone-built farmhouse barn, interactive woodland area, recreation of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal complete with lock gates, aviaries and six new aquariums holding native species of freshwater fish including trout, carp, roach, tench and pike. The stunning centrepiece of the aquarium section is a giant central tank which holds approximately 13,000 litres of water and will be filled with a variety of fish.

Each section includes interpretation boards and educational information to help people of all ages to learn more about the animals and where they can be found in the wild along the West Leeds Country Park.

The new visitor centre also has an activity and community room ideal for hosting meetings, events, presentations, school groups and arts and craft sessions, and it is hoped local environmental community groups will be keen to host events there.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Andrew Carter said:

“The new West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre looks fantastic and it is all coming together really well. We cannot wait to get the doors open and let people come in and see all the wildlife on display and learn all about the fascinating animals and habitats to be found on their doorstep.”

The new centre will be managed by the same team who look after another major Leeds animal attraction – Tropical World in Roundhay, which itself was in the news last week as it now has three new-born meerkats to add to the other recent high-profile additions of juvenile crocodiles and exotic snakes.

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

“We are delighted to be opening another major wildlife attraction for residents and visitors to Leeds to enjoy.

“The new West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre complements Tropical World perfectly as visitors will be able to see exotic animals and also now the wonderful native species which live in and around Leeds. We want people of all ages to come and see what the new centre has to offer and we are confident everyone will be impressed. “

ENDS

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

Education Leeds listed in top 75 public sector organisations

Education Leeds has been named as one of the top 75 public sector organisations to work for in the United Kingdom.

It was listed 50th in the first ever Sunday Times ‘Best Places to Work in the Public Sector’ list which recognises organisations that are committed to being the best in every area of the workplace in supporting the day-to-day lives of their employees.

The announcement was made at an awards ceremony in London last week and published in the last edition of the Sunday Times (March 14).

Professor Stephen Parkinson, chair of the Education Leeds board, said:
“This is a fantastic achievement for an organisation which has done so much to transform education for children and young people in Leeds. This result is based on an independent survey of our staff and their replies to the Sunday Times team demonstrates the satisfaction and pride that Education Leeds employees have in the work they are doing – and I am sure this will continue within education services in the city in the future.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Education Leeds is an outstanding organisation. My colleagues are the most talented people I have ever worked with and it is an honour for us all to be named in this prestigious list.

“As well as always wanting the best for the city’s children and young people, Education Leeds always strives to be a brilliant place for people to work. The culture, values, team work, support, shared beliefs and enthusiasm for education and learning make this organisation outstanding. I am proud of everyone who works with me who has helped us achieve this national recognition.”

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“This award recognises the high esteem that Education Leeds is held in by everyone who works there. It is a marvellous organisation and we will ensure its successes and achievements continue to be built on.”

Councillor Stewart Golton, executive board member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said:
“The qualities of Education Leeds are well recognised. To be named as one of the top 75 public sector organisations to work for is a real achievement and is something we will want to build on when we welcome Education Leeds staff to the council as part of the new children’s services directorate.”

The announcement comes after last week’s decision by Leeds City Council’s executive board to more closely combine the expertise of the council’s existing children’s services department with that of Education Leeds.

Education Leeds’ staff and its responsibilities will transfer to the council during a transition period which will be fully complete by April 1 2011.

For more information on the ‘Best Places to Work in the Public Sector’ list visit: http://www.bestcompanies.co.uk/PublicSectorList/About.aspx

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

Leeds film highlights the difference a personal budget can make

Six Leeds residents have appeared in a short film talking about personal budgets and how they are giving them the chance to live their lives more independently.

All the participants in the film, Personal Budgets in Leeds, volunteered to share their real-life experiences about the difference that personal budgets can make for older and disabled people with care needs.

The council commissioned the film to help raise awareness of the new way of delivering social care, which will be rolled out across Leeds this year.

Personal budgets allow customers to be much more creative about how they get the support they need. People are informed of how much money is available to them, and can then choose who they want to provide their support. This can be a mixture of council services and other providers. They can choose whether the money comes directly to them or is managed by somebody else - a trusted relative for example - or the council.

Assessment for a personal budget is also different to that of the traditional social care route, focusing on the changes people themselves want to make in their lives.

In the film, Ben, Lauren, Jane, Julie, Trevor and Tizzy speak frankly about the challenges they face on a daily basis, and how having a personal budget gives them greater choice and control over the way they live their lives.

Tizzy, 66, has multiple sclerosis and is a wheelchair user. The flexibility of a personal budget has allowed her to pay for support so that she can spend an afternoon each week with her young grandson, and allow her husband to take a break from caring for her fulltime, which have both had a positive effect on her quality of life. She said:

"I am very much looking forward to having a degree of control and freedom, as that has been largely missing from my life. Being able to do what I like, when I like is a novel experience for me, and also being able to expect that the service will fit my needs rather than me having to fit in with what the service can offer."

Councillor Peter Harrand, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:

“Personal budgets are a new way of delivering social care support, and will give people more choice and control over how they live their lives.

“They are much more flexible than traditional direct payments, allowing people to mix and match the support they get using council services and independent providers.

“We welcome the changes brought about by self-directed support and hope that the real-life experiences on the film will show our customers the types of things that can be achieved with the freedom and flexibility of a personal budget”

The film is available on the council’s website at www.leeds.gov.uk/personal_budgets, or individual clips can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com (search on ‘personal budgets Leeds’).

Personal budgets are part of a new way of delivering social care services called self-directed support (SDS), which is one of the changes brought about as part of the adult social care transformation.

To find out more about personal budgets, please speak to your care manager or social worker, or contact ASIST, the Leeds Personal Budget and Direct Payments Support Service on 0113 214 3654 or by email to assist@leeds.gov.uk

If you would like to speak to someone who already uses a personal budget or direct payment please contact the Leeds Personal Budget Peer Support Service on 0113 214 3594 or email info@personalbudgetleeds.org or visit the website at www.personalbudgetleeds.org

ENDS

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