Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Early success for Chelsea Flower Show team

Captions: Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter (right) receives the Wigan Cup from RHS President Giles Coode-Adams (above) and celebrates in the upper image with (left to right) Patrick Hennigan, Tricia Laidler and Kevin Hardy of HESCO Bastion together with Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Judith Elliott

Leeds City Council’s Chelsea Flower Show team have already secured a major award – a week before this year’s world-famous show even takes place.

The team made up of staff from the council’s Parks and Countryside Service with engineering support from sponsors HESCO Bastion Limited are taking their biggest and most ambitious garden yet – The HESCO Garden 2010 – to Chelsea next week.

The team joined forces for the first time last year on the original HESCO Garden, and it was the success of that garden which has resulted in the Royal Horticultural Society awarding Leeds City Council the prestigious Wigan Cup for the first time ever.

The Wigan Cup dates back to 1911, when it was presented to the RHS by the late Mr A.L.Wigan to be used as an award for an exhibit of roses. Over time this changed so it is now awarded to the best exhibit created by a local authority at any of the RHS’s show events throughout the year.

The HESCO Garden, which was based on an American raingarden and highlighted the problems caused by flash-flooding and how to reduce its impact, was widely praised and equalled Leeds’ best-ever result at Chelsea by winning a Silver-Gilt Flora award last year.

To celebrate winning the Wigan Cup, the team were rewarded for their efforts by attending a special ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Elliott in Civic Hall.

As part of the ceremony the Lord Mayor presented the trophy to HESCO Bastion, who will have it on display at their East Leeds headquarters with Leeds City Council displaying for the second six months of the year.

Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Elliott said:

“Congratulations to the team for achieving what no Leeds entry has ever done before at Chelsea in winning the Wigan Cup. Even though I couldn’t get to the show to see it for myself I thought last year’s garden was beautiful so well done to all the team and to HESCO Bastion for their great support.

“I will be attending the show this year and am very much looking forward to seeing this year’s garden which looks stunning, so best of luck to the team and hopefully it can earn us that elusive gold medal!”

The team are already well on with the process of completing this year’s garden challenger – The HESCO Garden 2010 – ahead of the show which begins with the annual press and VIP day on Monday 24th May and runs through the week until Saturday 29th May.

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

“We were delighted when we heard the RHS had chosen to award us the Wigan Cup for the first time ever. The Parks and Countryside staff who work on the Chelsea garden each year work tremendously hard and produce amazing results, so this is a great reward for their efforts. It is also fantastic for the city of Leeds to win such a prestigious award and we are very proud of that achievement.”

An expected 150,000 visitors will see the garden during the week, which is themed around celebrating the green linkages which connect the city centre to the countryside in and around Leeds, as well as the importance of protecting the local environment and raising awareness of the proven health benefits green spaces provide.

The garden is based on a snapshot of the iconic Leeds-Liverpool Canal, complete with a pair of giant 12-feet high lock gates which have already turned heads and have made a little bit of history themselves as the RHS have confirmed they are the first-ever lock gates to be seen on a show garden at Chelsea.

A special live webcam capturing all the action on The HESCO Garden 2010 throughout show week will be available on the website at from Sunday 23rd May.

Sponsors and project partners HESCO Bastion said:

“HESCO would like to congratulate the Leeds City Council team for their exceptional creativity and hard work that delivered a winning garden in 2009. HESCO are therefore delighted to again be working with Leeds City Council at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show providing the engineering framework for The HESCO Garden 2010.

“Leeds has a long-held reputation for engineering excellence dating back to the industrial revolution; this year’s garden focuses on these engineering developments of the past, and the present, all of which contribute to the vibrancy of Leeds. HESCO is proud that our products carry on Leeds’ engineering tradition for innovation and design."

Leeds City Council has enjoyed great success at Chelsea in recent years, with all seven previous gardens dating back to the first in 1997 earning bronze or silver category awards. Four of these gardens can now be visited by the public at sites around the city.

To find out all the latest news on The HESCO Garden 2010, visit the website at or follow the garden on Twitter at


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Sports Relief star Katy dances to The Carriageworks

Caption: Katy Brand in action (photo courtesy of Andy Hollingworth)

Mick Perrin for Just For Laughs Live presents
The Carriagworks Theatre, Thursday 3 June 2010 at 8.00pm
All tickets £18.50

She danced to the final of the BBC’s Let’s Dance for Sports Relief – and now top TV comedienne Katy Brand is coming to Leeds to perform at The Carriageworks.

Katy will be heading to the Millennium Square venue on Thursday 3rd June as part of her first live national tour. The show promises to be full of anarchic comedy, celebrity satire, music spoofs – and maybe even an outing for her hilarious version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies, which proved such a hit on the BBC charity show.

Katy first made a name for herself with ITV2’s Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show, quickly attracting a whole host of awards, including Best Female Comedy Newcomer at the 2008 British Comedy Awards and this year’s Loaded LAFTA Funniest Woman Award. She has also written and starred in Comedy Lab: Slap (Channel 4), Mouth Trap (BBC Radio 4) and appeared in Have I Got News For You (BBC One), Peep Show (Channel 4) and Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive (BBC Three).

She has recently branched out into film acting with the role of Miss Turvey in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, which also starred Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Katy is just part of a great season of comedy at The Carriageworks this summer, which also includes appearances by Jo Enright (Friday 4th June) and a sold-out gig from television star Reginald D Hunter (Saturday 12th June).

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

"It’s a mark of The Carriageworks’ growing national standing that it can attract big-name stars like Katy Brand. Her show is sure to be a big hit and her appearance forms part of a fantastic summer season at the theatre.”

Please note the show is recommended for ages 14+
For further information about The Carriageworks visit the website at

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.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Public meetings to discuss Aireborough Leisure Centre improvements

A series of public consultation meetings are to be held next week to discuss a possible major redevelopment of Aireborough Leisure Centre.

All are welcome to attend three meetings to be held at the centre at The Green in Guiseley on Wednesday 26th May to discuss possible improvements to the swimming pool, Bodyline gym, changing rooms and the reception area.

The meetings hosted by Leeds City Council’s Sport and Active Recreation staff are to be held at three times on the day – 3pm-4pm, 4:30pm-5:30pm and 6pm-7pm to give as many people as possible the chance to attend and have their say on the proposed changes.

It is hoped the funding for the improvements will come from Leeds taking part in the national free swimming initiative for those 16 and under and 60 and over which aims to encourage people to be more physically active in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.

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

“We have earmarked Aireborough Leisure Centre for possible improvements so it would be great to see as many people as possible attending these public meetings to hear what we would like to do and to let us know what they think so we can give people what they would like to see in their local leisure centre.”

For those unable to attend the meetings or to discuss the possible developments at Aireborough Leisure Centre further, please call 07891 271 799 or email


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre comes of age

The Osmondthorpe Resource Centre will open its doors to the local community on Wednesday, 26 May to celebrate 21 years of helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents or illness.

The party starts at 10.30am when manager of the centre, Stuart Simmons, will officially get the celebrations underway. There are lots of activities planned for adults and children alike including American-style food, wild west mock shoot-out, a mime artist and Aide the magician. Music will be provided by the centre’s own Elvis impersonator and a jazz trio, and centre users will have the opportunity to soak staff with wet sponges when they are put in stocks.

There will also be a display of pictures showing how Osmondthorpe and east Leeds have changed over the past 200 to 300 years, and how the resource centre has developed since it opened in 1989.

Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun between 10.30am and 2.30pm.

Stuart Simmons, manager of the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre said:
“Twenty one years is an exciting milestone for us and we’re keen to celebrate the service we have been providing over this time.

“We want to welcome as many people as possible to our birthday party on Wednesday to celebrate with us and share our achievements.”

Councillor Valerie Kendall, lead member for adult social care said:
“Osmondthorpe Resource Centre has been successfully helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents and illnesses for an impressive 21 years.

“The centre provides outstanding support and opportunities for the people that use it, and they are keen to mark this important milestone by coming together to celebrate their achievements.

“I wish them continued success for many years to come and a very happy birthday.”

Additional info

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre has been helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents or illness for 21 years, by providing a range of opportunities including education, work skills training, day-to-day independent living skills and emotional support as well as an award winning Woodtech project, creating employment opportunities.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Playtime is even more fun in Rodley

Playtime for children in Rodley will be even more exciting thanks to a fantastic new children’s play area at Brookfield recreation ground.

Brookfield recreation ground is one of 22 sites across the city which will boast improved play equipment as part of the Playbuilder project. With additional council funding the playground has been transformed into a modern and adventurous play area with a range of challenging and exciting new equipment suitable for toddlers through to teenagers.

Media opportunity
When: Friday 21 May 2010 at 10.30am
Where: Brookfield recreation ground, off Brookfield Gardens, LS13 1NL
Council leader Andrew Carter will be officially opening the new play area. Local families have been invited to attend.

As part of the initiative local residents and school children helped to guide and influence the design, choice of equipment and layout of the play area.

The play area which is being officially opened this week boasts a cableway, slide with rope net bridge, giraffe swing, five way swing, inclusive orbit roundabout and for the younger children a home/rescue multiplay unit, garden seesaw, swings with cradle seats and a spinner bowl roundabout.

Councillor John Proctor, executive board member responsible for leisure services said:“The new playground is a fantastic addition to the area and offers exiting and challenging new equipment for children and young people to enjoy.

“The input of local residents and children was vital to make sure this play area becomes a popular, well used focal point for youngsters in this community now and for many years to come.”

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council said:“We want to be able to help the children of Leeds to make the most of their playtime, so by providing lots of fun, adventurous and challenging playgrounds across this city we are striving to achieve this.

“I’m sure the children of Rodley will have a great time trying out this fantastic new playground. The equipment will allow them to be adventurous and have great fun with their friends, in a safe environment.”

Playgrounds that have already opened across the city as part of the Playbuilder project include Gipton Square, Potternewton Park and Deepdale.

One of the main aims of the Playbuilder project is to make sure the improved play equipment can be used by children and young people with disabilities. All the new playgrounds include some items of equipment offering challenge and opportunity to children and young people with varying needs.

Playbuilder funding is specifically aimed at improving play for 8 to 13 year olds, although where consultation identified specific needs for improved opportunities for younger children this has been included wherever possible.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713

Thousands of children leave the car and walk to school

Caption: From left: Jessica Kiroly, Hanna Sedden, Nathan Turner, Nathan Willis, Niamh Staker and Mckenzie Davey-O'leary from Gildersome Primary School.

Up to 25,000 children and young people across Leeds are leaving the car or bus and striding out to walk to school this week.

National Walk to School Week 2010 (17-21 May) is taking place and the theme is getting to know your neighbourhood. Across Leeds, children from 85 primary schools and a high school are getting out and about to explore their local environment on foot. Schools have organised lots of fun events including treasure hunts, themed walks, competitions and orienteering events.

St Josephs RC Primary School, Hunslet are awarding special trophies to their best walkers, and pupils from Kippax North Junior and Infant School are being encouraged to walk to school with a visit from JT Tiger the mascot from Castleford Tigers RLFC.

Leeds City Council has provided special packs including maps and a competition prize.

Walk to School Week is a national event which takes place annually to promote the benefits of walking, and encourages parents to leave their cars at home.

Young children are often bundled from front door to car door without the opportunity to get out on foot, to learn about road safety and to get to know their local neighbourhood.

Parents often say they don’t have the time to walk, but many people underestimate the time it takes to travel by car and overestimate how long it takes to walk. By walking, children can be taught important road safety messages, feel part of their community and gain the confidence and independence they deserve.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and executive member responsible for road safety said:

“I am pleased to see so many Leeds schools supporting this national event which encourages parents and children to change the way they choose to travel to school. Walking helps reduce the number of cars on our roads helping to reduce congestion and improve the environment. Walking to school also helps children develop independence, learn vital road safety skills and keeps our children healthy”.

Mrs Barbara Clark Head Teacher at Kippax North Junior and Infant School said:

“It’s lovely to see the children arriving at school buzzing, energised and ready for learning after a healthy, brisk walk.”


For more information about national Walk to School Week, please visit


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

£1 million for peace of mind

Leeds City Council is to spend £1 million on equipment to help older or disabled people live safely at home. This will give carers and relatives peace of mind, knowing that their loved-ones are safe and that any mishap will trigger an alert at a council-run response centre.

The funding, approved by the council’s executive board today, will go to a service called Telecare, which is part of adult social care. Telecare works with disabled and older people, some of whom are living with dementia and may be at risk when on their own at home.

The service installs sensors on ceilings, doors and walls, or provides devices that may be worn by the service user on a belt or a pendant. Types of sensor include smoke detectors and flood detectors as well as fall sensors and wandering alerts. For people who have become forgetful, there are also medication dispensers.

The system can also be used by carers living in the same property to alert them to any problems.

Councillor Valerie Kendall, deputy executive member for adult social care, explained:
“If a Telecare sensor is activated in a person's home, an alert is automatically triggered at the council’s 24-hour response centre, whose staff will make contact with the person to check on his or her safety. Often, practical advice is all that is needed, but sometimes a visit is required to make sure all is well.

“If that is the case, the response centre will contact the person's relative or partner, someone from our mobile response service or, if needed, an emergency service.”

The £1 million will be spent on a wide variety of equipment to support the Telecare service, which is expecting an increase in demand as more and more effort is being put into helping people live independently but safely at home well into their older age.

Councillor Kendall continued:
“People tell us all the time that they would prefer to keep their independence as long as possible and avoid, if they can, the need to enter residential care. Telecare has been proved to play an important part in this and I am delighted that the council are making this significant investment in supporting older people to do what they want.”


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Fostering, a career that changes lives

Picture caption: "Leeds foster carers, John and Stephanie Forbes help launch Leeds' appeal for more foster carers."

Leeds City Council and Leeds foster carers today launched an appeal for people in Leeds to consider making fostering their career and asks them to look at the skills and qualities they have which could help make them a great foster carer.

The council is supporting the annual national campaign to raise awareness about fostering and foster carer recruitment. Foster Care Fortnight (17 - 30 May 2010) ‘Do you have the Skills to Foster? is organised by The Fostering Network – the national campaigning fostering organisation.

In Leeds there is a shortage of foster carers particularly for school age children and teenagers who need fostering support for both short and long term placements, as well as carers of diverse ethnic origins.

Fostering has changed dramatically over the last few years and is now seen as a skilled and highly valued profession that can be combined with family life. There are some great foster carers in Leeds but more are needed - ideally a diverse range of people from the widest range of backgrounds, skills and experience to help vulnerable children and young people.

This year Leeds City Council is particularly looking for people who are interested in full time, career fostering and can meet some minimum criteria including; child care experience, a spare room and having older or grown up children of their own.

Supporting Leeds’ campaign are experienced Leeds career foster carers John and Stephanie Forbes, who were recently awarded MBEs for their outstanding service to children and young people in Leeds.

John Forbes, foster carer said:
“Foster Care Fortnight is a great opportunity to highlight the work of foster carers and how they can really change the lives of children and young people. Foster care is challenging but so rewarding – seeing children develop confidence after so much disappointment in their lives is a great feeling.

“Getting though to children and helping them succeed is the biggest reward. For us it’s a been a team effort, working with a range of other professionals to support children and young people achieve their potential in life despite all the problems they have had to cope with. We are very proud to see youngsters we have cared for become adults and successfully have families of their own.

“We would urge anyone who feels they have the skills, enthusiasm and commitment to come forward and find out more about how they could make a big difference.”

The council offers comprehensive support and financial assistance for its foster carers. Leeds rewards its foster carers’ considerable range of skills and dedication through a ‘payment for skills’ scheme which includes a range of fees, professional training and skills development.

Children and young people who need this type of fostering can have some complex needs and require intensive support, so commitment is especially needed from people with some background skills and experience and who are confident with childcare. Leeds needs to prioritise people for this campaign who feel their circumstances can reflect these expectations.

Councillor Stewart Golton, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
''It is important to remember is that we’re not looking for superheroes; we just want to hear from people who think they have the time, patience and commitment to help some of the city’s most vulnerable youngsters.

“Many young people have not benefited from a secure family life and can be experiencing a range of difficulties that need dedicated support, which is why we are looking for some very special people who may want to make fostering their career.

“Foster carers in Leeds make a invaluable contribution to supporting looked after Leeds children. We need more people to join them and together we can help transform the lives of children and young people in the city.’’

There is no such thing as a typical foster carer; they can be single, married, divorced or widowed, with or without children of their own, employed or unemployed.

People of all ethnic origins are needed - children benefit from living with families who share their own culture, language and religion. A diverse range of people with the right skills and qualities to foster are required to meet the needs of looked after children.

There are a range of other fostering opportunities available as well as career fostering, all providing much needed support for children and young people of all ages.

Those interested in fostering can contact 0113 247 4747 for advice and an information pack or for more information on the campaign can visit:

Notes to editor:
John and Stephanie Forbes are available for interview - please contact the press office to arrange.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Quarter of council homes for ‘local people’ under plan

A quarter of all council houses in Leeds could be reserved for ‘local’ people, under plans being put before council leaders later today.

Leeds City Council’s executive board is being asked to approve consultation with the public over a major shift in the way council houses in the city are allocated.

The main change is a proposal to set aside up to 25% of all lets for applicants who can demonstrate ‘a local connection to a defined geographical area’ and who can demonstrate a history of good behaviour. This change will help people who currently have no real opportunity of securing a council home.

The proposals come a year after councillors raised concerns about the current lettings policy and its management, particularly how fair it is, how applications for council houses are handled, and the sustainability of new affordable housing schemes.

Other proposals in the report include:
• greater preference for overcrowded families;
• greater preference for offers of houses and maisonettes to households with dependent children
• new direct let categories for those who have experienced hate crime, and households with vulnerable adults or children.

Approval from the council’s executive board would give officials permission to begin asking residents, tenants, registered social landlords, and voluntary and support agencies what they think about the proposals.

Councillor Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“These changes reflect our determination to improve the lettings policy for the benefit of people in Leeds.
"Council housing should be for those in the greatest and most immediate need. But we have to accept that there’s a perception that the way we allocate houses is unfair against local people. We are determined to change this perception.
“By setting aside a quarter of homes specifically for local people, this will address many of these concerns and also ease some of the pressure on the city’s council housing.”

Notes for editors
Although national guidelines insist that those in the most need must be given for priority, councils are allow to develop local priorities and this proposal aims to tackle the perception amongst some residents that the lettings policy is unfair.

The ‘local connection’ test would be defined in terms of residence, family associations, employment or other special reason, and the area could be defined in terms of the ward area, housing management area, estate or ALMO area. Preference for a property could be given to households from a smaller geographical area but then opened up to a larger area if no applicants expressed an interest.

The council would work closely with its three Arms Length Management Organisations – Aire Valley Homes, East North East Homes Leeds and West North West Homes Leeds – and the Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation to determine how the 25% of properties would be selected, and to ensure as far as possible that the quota applied across all areas and property types.

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

State-of-the-art classroom to be officially opened at the LGI

A state-of-the-art classroom is to be officially opened at the Leeds General Infirmary.

The new Learning Zone - provided by Education Leeds’ Home Hospital and Teaching Service - will provide children and young people with continued education if their schooling is interrupted because of having to spend time in hospital.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
Media are invited to the official opening of the Learning Zone at the Leeds General Infirmary on Friday 21 May between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. It will take place at 2.15pm. Journalists should report to B Floor, Clarendon Wing. Please call 0113 3951577 or email before 3pm on Thursday 20 May to confirm attendance.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

The Learning Zone - run in conjunction with the East SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre) John Jamieson School and Technology College - has the latest ICT equipment across three teaching areas and includes a multi-sensory room, to help to provide children and young people with special needs access to a sensory curriculum, as well as a quiet study area for older children.

The classroom is a vital resource during treatment and recovery periods and the education team works closely with health professionals to ensure all children and young people benefit as much as possible from their time there.

The classroom provides a full programme of interactive lessons linked to the core national curriculum and for those unable to leave the ward, there are resources - such as books, laptops, science equipment and sensory activities - for education staff to use for ward teaching.

The official opening will take place on Friday 21 May at 2.15pm and will be attended by the chief executive of Education Leeds, Chris Edwards, as well as Maggie Boyle, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Councillor Sue Bentley, lead member for education at Leeds City Council, said:“We are committed to providing the best possible education to our children and young people at all times and this fantastic service ensures learning continues even when a school can’t be accessed.

“The new, state-of-the-art facilities at the LGI will benefit every child and young person who uses them and ensure their education does not suffer because they are unable to attend their usual school.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:“The Hospital Home Teaching Service provides an outstanding service to children and young people who unfortunately have to spend time in hospital. As well as providing an essential education which ensures their time away from school does not have a negative impact on their studies, it also helps to provide a sense of normality during what can be difficult times.

“These new facilities at the LGI will provide a real boost to the service and will continue the great work that’s been carried out for many years at St James’ University Hospital.”

The education team works closely with the child or young person’s school to collect assessment and curriculum details. After discharge from the hospital, the team advises the school on helping the child or young person reintegrate and arranges home teaching if necessary.

There are 11 different wards at the LGI which meet the needs of children and young people with a range of short-term, long-term and recurrent medical needs. The hospital is the regional centre for the treatment of many conditions including oncology, acquired brain injuries, cystic fibrosis and liver, renal and cardiac conditions, and children and young people come from as far away as Lincoln, York, Hull, Barnsley and Scarborough.

The Hospital and Home Teaching Service was identified as outstanding when it was inspected by Ofsted in April 2009.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577