Thursday, 22 July 2010

Praise for tenant who has made a difference for decades

A council tenant who has devoted his own time to helping make his area a better place to live has been named runner up for a national accolade.

Roy Birch is a Tenant Member of the board of Aire Valley Homes, one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) which manage and maintain the city’s council houses on behalf of Leeds City Council.

Roy was shortlisted for the ‘Board Member of the Year’ by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA). The winners and runners were announced at a ceremony this week at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

A founding member of his local Tenants and Residents group, the 84-year-old was shortlisted because his energy and enthusiasm to put tenants interests first means he plays an active role not just at board level, but on repairs focus groups, the repairs and grounds maintenance procurement projects, estate walkabouts, his residents groups meetings and numerous other activities.

A tenant in Hunslet for 34 years Roy is now in his early 80s. He is incredibly hard working, humorous and passionate about ensuring tenants are respected and services the best they can possibly be.

Representatives from the 20 short-listed ALMOs across the country gathered for the award ceremony, part of the NFA’s annual two day conference and AGM. During the awards evening, hosted by Janet Street-Porter, the audience of 350 were treated to a performance by African drumming group NESTAC and films of all the shortlisted projects and individuals.

Andrew Feldhaus, chair of the Aire Valley Homes Leeds board, said:
“Roy will undoubtedly play down the difference he makes. At an age when many residents are taking a well-earned rest Roy has taken on enormous challenges.
“His active contribution to Aire Valley Homes has been key in ensuring that organisational issues do not detract us from delivering the best possible service to residents
“Roy’s commitment over the years in championing tenants interests in Hunslet and the wider community has been outstanding. I’m delighted his efforts have been recognised and everyone here at Aire Valley Homes is really proud of him.”

The Board Member of the Year category celebrates inspirational ALMO board members whose commitment has demonstrated outstanding support to their teams, residents and the community.

The awards were judged by an independent panel; Alison Inman, Chair of the National Federation of ALMOs; Michael Gelling, Chairman of the National Tenant Voice; and Roger Jarman, Head of Housing at the Audit Commission.

Alison Inman, chair of the National Federation of ALMOs, said:
“The NFA Awards always command a high standard of entry and this year has been no exception. The creativity, pro-activity and innovation shown by these individuals and teams and, above all, their steadfast commitment to housing and local communities should act as a benchmark for the entire ALMO movement.”

Designed to honour and credit the individuals and teams who do so much at ground level and beyond, the awards have been developed to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of the country’s ALMOs – which manage more than one million council homes, over half of all social housing in England.

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

Temple Newsam gets ready for ‘best-ever’ Party

Caption: From top - The Saturdays, Tinchy Stryder and Gabriella Cilmi will all be performing at Party in the Park this weekend

Temple Newsam Park will be the place to be this weekend as Leeds hosts the two biggest free outdoor events in the UK – Party and Opera in the Park.

The two annual events will see a combined audience of 120,000 people enjoying the two shows over the course of the weekend, with this year’s Party in the Park being specially extended as the line-up of star performers is the strongest ever.

The dazzling list of star names appearing at Party in the Park which takes place from 1pm on Sunday 25th July includes Dizzee Rascal, Scouting for Girls, The Saturdays, The Script, Pixie Lott, Tinchy Stryder, Alexandra Burke, Alesha Dixon, Gabriella Cilmi, Professor Green, Example, Beverley Knight, The Wanted, Basshunter, The Baseballs, The Hoosiers, Craig David, Lee Ryan, Damage and Dane Bowers.

The line-up is so strong that event organisers Leeds City Council and 96.3 Radio Aire have decided for the first time in its 17-year existence to extend the show for an extra hour to accommodate all the star performers.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“Opera in the Park and Party in the Park are two of the highlight events of the year in Leeds, and one look at the amazing line-up for Party shows the great reputation of the event as so many leading artists are keen to perform.

“With all of these top names taking part in order to do the event full justice we have decided to extend the running time of the show by one hour. Both these events are fantastic for the city and are sure to be wonderful shows enjoyed for free by 120,000 people over the weekend.”

Party in the Park is the larger of the two shows, with the clamour for tickets meaning all 70,000 places were claimed in less than four days for the event supported by media partners the Yorkshire Evening Post.

JK from 96.3 Radio Aire’s JK & Joel @ Breakfast said:

“We couldn’t believe the demand for tickets and we can’t wait to get on stage in front of 70,000 people. This is a great event for the city and we’re really proud to host it.”

The previous evening the pace will be slightly slower as the ever-popular Opera in the Park takes place in front of 50,000 classical music and opera fans from 8pm on Saturday 24th July with gates opening at 6pm.

This year’s show will see The Orchestra of Opera North together with the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and performing with well-known soloists Stephanie Cole, Heather Shipp, Peter Wedd and Jacques Imbrailo all under the leadership of conductor Oliver von Dohnányi.

Organised by Leeds City Council, Opera in the Park is once again supported by media partners Magic 828 and the Yorkshire Post.

Anyone requiring further details or general information about either event should contact Leeds City Council’s Events team on 0113- 395 0891 or visit

Notes to editors:

Media access to Opera in the Park and Party in the Park is by prior accreditation only - the deadline for which has now passed. There will be strictly no access for those without accreditation at either event on the day.

Photos from both events will be available on request on Monday.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Royalty officially opens new Morley Leisure Centre

Picture captions: (top) Councillor Lisa Mulherin and His Royal Highness Prince Richard Duke of Gloucester unveiling the plaque officially opening Morley Leisure Centre. (Above) Leeds United hero Jonney Howson outside the new centre

Leeds City Council’s latest flagship sports facility Morley Leisure Centre was officially opened yesterday by His Royal Highness Prince Richard Duke of Gloucester.

Also present at the prestigious occasion was Leeds City Council’s lead member for leisure Councillor Lisa Mulherin and Morley town Mayor Councillor Paul Cook.

Leeds United’s central mid fielder Jonny Howson who grew up and played football in and around Morley finalised the official opening line-up.

His Royal Highness Prince Richard Duke of Gloucester said:

“It is an honour to be invited to open this outstanding leisure centre for the people of Morley. This is a fine facility which I have no doubt the community will benefit from greatly for many years to come.

Touring the state-of-the-art centre, which now includes the largest council run Bodyline gym anywhere in Leeds, the Duke spoke to members of a working-group who were closely consulted during its construction.

The Duke took time to see the leisure centre’s fantastic range of facilities which include a stunning main 25-metre swimming pool, 10-metre learner pool, a 150-station Bodyline gym, a six-court sports hall, four-court sports hall, dance studio and a café.

Special guests and members of the community were invited to the event where following his tour the Duke of Gloucester unveil a plaque officially opening the centre and speeches were given by Jonny Howson and Lisa Mulherin.

Leeds City Council’s lead member for leisure Cllr Lisa Mulherin said:

“This is a great facility and recognised as such by the people of Morley and the wider area who have been using it heavily since the doors were opened to the public. We are confident this fantastic new leisure facility will be a huge success for years to come.”

The new Morley Leisure Centre features a varied fitness programme, with the Bodyline gym which is one of the largest to be found in the region fitted out with the latest equipment and weights while there will also be 5-a-side football, badminton and gymnastics available along with a range of fitness classes on offer including circuit training and boxercise sessions, yoga and pilates.

Local lad and Leeds United star Jonny Howson said:

“I started out playing football here at the old Morley Leisure Centre one night a week, but ended up using the centre quite a lot. Now it’s a incredible state-of-the-art facility - I wish it had been more like this when I was using it."

The Local Education Partnership works to assist in the delivery of education and leisure projects in Leeds.

It is made up of Leeds City Council, the national Building Schools for the Future investment programme and private sector companies Interserve, Barclays Private Equity and Cambridge Education.

Corporate Director of Interserve Project Services Ian Renhard said:

“I would once again like to take this opportunity to say how thrilled we have been to be part of this hugely successful project and we look forward to building on our partnership with the local community.”

Yesterday’s event also saw the unveiling of a plaque in recognition of a local solider Lance Corporal David Kirkness who served in 3rd Battalion the Rifles and died serving in Afghanistan last December. The plaque renamed one of the Multi Activity Halls the Kirkness Suite in memory of him.


For media enquiries please contact: Daniel Johnson, leisure communications officer,tel: 0113 247 8285, email: