Monday, 16 August 2010

Lord Mayor’s appeal for Pakistan floods

Leeds City Council has donated £10,000 as part of the start of a Leeds appeal for the victims of the current flood disaster in Pakistan.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds has launched the appeal which starts today (Monday 16 August), and will run for eight weeks. The people of Leeds will have the chance to donate or raise money via various fundraising events, for the people affected by the floods in Pakistan.

There will be collection buckets and tins at various council one stop centres and buildings throughout Leeds. People are also encouraged to donate to the national Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) donation lines, via text, online or cheque donations.

Severe floods have been hitting Pakistan for three weeks now. The United Nations estimates that three million people have been affected. The floods, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rain over the upper Indus River basin, have ploughed a swathe of destruction more than 1,000 kilometres long from north to south and killed more than 1,600 people. Over 980,000 people have lost their homes in floodwaters or have been forced to flee.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jim McKenna said:

“It is very important that we come together as a city at this time. I hope many people will respond, to show their humanity and give support to help people affected by this natural disaster.

“There are strong links between the Leeds Pakistani population and extended family links in Pakistan, and therefore we feel there is very much a need for this appeal.

“I would encourage people to raise money either at work or socially for this good cause.”

For further information on event ideas and tips, and to see what events are going on across the city please visit http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Advice_and_benefits/Voluntary_organisations/Charities.aspx

In the past the council has launched three appeals with regard to natural disasters overseas; the tsunami in South Asia in December 2004, the earthquake in Kashmir in October 2005 and the Bangladesh cyclone in 2007.

To donate to the cause please either go to the DEC website http://www.dec.org.uk/ or donate through the Lord Mayor’s collection boxes. In the city centre these boxes will be at the front desks of 2 Great George Street and the Civic Hall.

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Notes to editors:

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) brings together a unique alliance of the UK’s aid , corporate, public and broadcasting sectors to rally the nations compassion and ensure that funds raised go to DEC agencies best placed to deliver effective, timely relief to people most in need.

All money raised can be donated through DEC, with any cash made, being banked at the nearest high street bank (all of which have DEC collection points).

You can donate online at http://www.dec.org.uk/ , or by text to 70707 with the word GIVE in the message to donate £5, or phone by calling 0370-60-60-900.

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

‘Duel fuel’ means council house repairs go green


Eco warriors: (from left) East North East Homes Leeds staff - plasterer Christopher Boyne, bricklayer Dave Slingo and plasterer Mick Wilson - with one of the new hybrid vans.

Council house repairs just got greener – thanks to a new fleet of environmentally friendly hybrid vans.

East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL) has unveiled its pioneering energy efficient hybrid vans that lead the way in reducing CO2 emissions from its fleet of repair vehicles.

One of the three Arms Length Management Organisations that manage and maintain council houses on behalf of Leeds City Council, ENEHL has been chosen as part of a nationwide trial by the government to test low carbon emission vehicles.

The vans utilise innovative green technologies by running on ‘dual fuel’, which is a mix of diesel and electric, which cuts greenhouse emissions by 10%. It works by the electric motor supporting the diesel engine by running at the same time which uses up to 25% less fuel. The electric battery re-charges itself when the vehicle uses its brakes by capturing the kinetic energy from braking and turning it into electricity.

Each van will attend 2,000 responsive call outs for repairs in a year. By adopting ‘green’ vehicles, ENEHL hopes to have a found a cheaper way of operating that leads to improved air quality within the local environment.

Angelena Fixter, chair of the East North East Homes Leeds board, said:“We are absolutely committed to improving the environment and the purchasing of these hybrid vans illustrates our green credentials.
“Our aim is to deliver a cost effective repairs service to our residents by using the most environmentally friendly methods available.”

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

Should the way council houses are let change?

Thousands of people have already given their views on proposals to change the way council homes in Leeds are let – but many more are needed.

Currently, Leeds City Council’s council homes are let on the basis of ‘housing need’, which means that someone with a ‘high’ housing need will be offered a home ahead of others who may have been waiting a long time.

Someone may be in ‘high’ housing need because they have no home or are in a vulnerable situation. However, some people feel that this system is unfair.

Under the new proposals being put forward by the council, 25% of council homes would be let to applicants who have the earliest date of registration and a connection to the area. The remaining 75% would still be let to people with a high housing need.

Other proposed changes include:
• giving higher priority to families living in overcrowded accommodation
• giving greater preference for offers of houses to households with children

Local people are being asked what they think of these changes and whether they think they will be fairer than the current system.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“Leeds City Council is committed to having a fair and transparent lettings policy that reflects the needs and aspirations of Leeds residents, and this is your opportunity to have your say.
“We have had a fantastic response to the consultation so far, with over 2,000 people completing the online survey. I would urge people to let us know their views about these proposals.”

Leeds residents can give their views about the proposals on the internet at www.tinyurl.com/leedshomes or by emailing leeds.homes@leeds.gov.uk – please include the words ‘Lettings Policy Review’ in the subject line, or by writing to Leeds Homes, Selectapost 12, Merrion House, 110 Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8BA.

The deadline for comments is Tuesday 31 August.

Notes for editors

Recent government guidance, ‘Fair and Flexible: statutory guidance on social housing allocations for local authorities in England’ has given local authorities freedom to adopt local priorities alongside the statutory reasonable preference (housing need) categories. Other factors that can be taken into account include waiting time and local connection.

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 estate, ward, housing office area, ALMO or BITMO area or city wide.

The council will 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 implement any changes to the lettings policy.

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

Responses continue to pour in over new dog control powers consultation

Almost 2,000 responses have been received to a consultation on potential powers that could place new controls on dogs and responsibilities on their owners across Leeds.

Dog Control Orders could allow Leeds City Council to ban dogs from certain areas of the city, designate areas where owners must keep their dogs on a lead and restrict the number of dogs that can be walked by one person at a time. They could also mean that any dog owner in Leeds could be instructed to put their dog on a lead if it is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance.

The council’s major consultation over the proposals is asking local people what they think of these powers and how, and where, they think they could be applied.

The full schedule of the land that could be covered by this can be found at www.leeds.gov.uk/dogs

Local councillors have also asked that ‘Throstle Recreation Ground Informal Play Area' in the south of the city be considered for an area where dogs might be restricted.

In 2008/9, 97 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued over dog fouling in Leeds and nine prosecutions were carried out. In 2009/10m, there were 96 notices issued and 11 prosecutions carried out.

If the council makes any of these orders it will be a criminal offence to breach them. On conviction the offence can result in a fine of up to £1,000 or an offender can choose to pay a fixed penalty to avoid prosecution.

More detail of the different powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 includes:

Dogs on leads in prescribed areas
This would require all dog owners to keep their dogs on leads at all times when in the areas of land covered by the order. The order can cover roads, pavements and footpaths, gated alleyways, small parks and planted areas.

Putting and keeping a dog on a leads when directed to do so
This would require a dog owner to put their dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer because the dog is likely to cause nuisance, annoyance or disturbance. This order would cover the whole of the city.

Banning dogs from prescribed areas
This would allow the council to specify certain land where no dogs are allowed (unless they are guide dogs or assistance dogs) – this could specifically be used for children’s play areas or land used for sport.

Setting a maximum numbers of dogs that can be walked at any one time
This would limit the number of dogs that one person can walk at any one time. The council would set the number to make sure that the owner is able to control all the dogs they are walking and clean up after them. This would cover the whole of Leeds.

To give the council their views, people should go to www.leeds.gov.uk/dogs and complete the on-line questionnaire. A copy of the consultation documents and maps and lists identifying land that might be affected can be inspected at Knowsthorpe Gate, Cross Green, Leeds LS9 0NP. Hard copies of the questionnaire can be obtained by contacting 0113 3951765 or email environmental.action@leeds.gov.uk

Views must be submitted before 31 August 2010, when this consultation will close.

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

Residents urged to confirm register of electors details

Over 330,000 electoral registration forms will be delivered to residents across Leeds this week as part of Leeds City Council’s annual canvass to update the register of electors.

All households are being urged to respond and confirm their electoral details as soon as possible to make sure they are included in the revised register, which will be published on 1 December 2010. Every household must respond, even if there is no one eligible to be registered at their address.

There are a number of ways to respond to the form including via text message, a freephone telephone number or online for those households who have no changes to make to the information on their form. Any amendments to the form must be made by returning the form in the post.

Households are asked to ensure they respond no later than 6 September 2010 to prevent a reminder form being sent, or a home visit to their property.

Last year around 43,000 households didn't respond to the initial form or reminder form. These properties had to be visited by canvassers which meant an additional, unnecessary cost to the taxpayer.

Alex Meek, electoral services manager for Leeds City Council, said:
“We have strived to make registering to vote as easy as possible, particularly with the telephone, internet and text message service which allows households which have no changes to make to their details to respond quickly without having to return their form.

“People who are not included on the register of electors won’t be able to vote in elections or referendums. Not being registered could also cause problems when applying to open a bank account or take out a loan or credit card. “

“It is also a legal requirement to provide the information requested, and failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000. The easy way to avoid a home visit or a fine is to respond as soon as you receive the form.

The number to send a text message to is 07797 898767, quoting the security code (full instructions are on the registration form), the freephone number to call is 0800 025 1067; and the website address to visit is www.elecreg.co.uk/leeds

Students in the city are reminded they can register at both their home and term-time addresses and are legally required to provide the information, even if they are simply responding to say they do not wish to be registered at their term-time address.

Help to complete the form is available from Leeds City Council’s electoral services on 0113 2224411 and information is also available in other languages, large print, audio and braille.

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