Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Community service for parents who failed to send children to school

Two parents who knowingly failed to ensure their children regularly attended school have been sentenced to 180 hours community service between them.

Education Leeds and Leeds City Council took action against Amanda Battensby and Jason Hardisty, of Rothwell, Leeds, after two of their children failed to regularly attend school.

Leeds Magistrates Court heard that between 1 June and 17 July 2009 one child was absent without authorisation for 25 out of 70 sessions at school and another missed 19 out of 70 sessions*.

Battensby and Hardisty were sentenced today (Wednesday 30 June) after previously pleading guilty to the offences.

Battensby was sentenced to 100 hours community service and Hardisty to 80 hours community service. Both received a 12 month supervision order.

Battensby received a more severe sentence than Hardisty after receiving a suspended sentence in September 2008 for the same type of offence. The suspended sentence was extended until 3 September 2010.

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“The futures of our children and young people are at the centre of everything we do and each and every one has the right to the best possible education. This can only be achieved if they are regularly at school and this prosecution shows how seriously we take the issue.

“We have worked closely with this family over a number of years to try and ensure these children regularly attend school. Many different options were explored but in the end we had no choice but to go to court. I hope this is a lesson for everyone that education has to be taken seriously and we will always put the best interests of children and young people first.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Parents and carers have a legal responsibility to ensure their children go to school. We take attendance very seriously and although legal action is a last resort we will, where necessary, use the full force of the law.

“It’s recognised that every school day matters which is why we are constantly working to improve attendance across the city. We will now continue to work closely with both parents to ensure their children get the most out of their time at school.”


Notes to editors
*One school day is listed as two sessions - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Therefore 70 sessions totals 35 days.

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

German developers seek to build on Leeds urban ideas

A group of urban renewal developers from across Germany visited Leeds earlier this month to see what they can learn from the city’s rapid transformation.

As part of a Europe-wide tour the group visited Leeds to find out what the issues, problems and solutions are in other countries in terms of urban development.

Colin Mawhinney, Leeds City Council’s head of economic policy and programmes, met the group at Wellington Place where he gave them an insight into the plans and strategies for regenerating the city.

The rapid and fundamental changes in Leeds were of particular interest to the group. A walking tour illustrated this, exploring the waterfront at Granary Wharf past Holbeck Urban Village, Bridgewater Place, Clarence Dock, the city markets, the proposed Trinity Quarter, Eastgate and Harewood Quarter schemes as well as the new arena development sites. Millennium Square, Quarry Hill and Opal 3 were also viewed along the way.

The group learnt that improving public and private sector confidence and investment in the regeneration of Leeds was vital to the city’s success, and over the course of 10 to 15 years this had transformed large areas around the city centre and strengthened the city’s sense of place.

Colin Mawhinney said:
“This was an excellent opportunity to compare our recent experience of regeneration and our hopes for continued investment in the public realm as a key ingredient of successful cities.

“Having arrived with a pre-conception of Leeds as an industrial town, the German group left Leeds with very changed perceptions which recognised the strength of the city’s diverse economy.”

Leeds is increasingly gaining international recognition as a dynamic city in terms of regeneration. Recently, the Old Broadcasting Place was chosen as the winner of the European category as the 'best tall building’ by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). This is a particular accolade which places this building on par with prestigious international buildings which won the other regional categories: the 828m Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, the 163m Pinnacle@Duxton in Singapore and the 366m Bank of America tower in New York. These four will now compete to be the ‘Best Tall Building Overall’, in October 2010.

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