Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Council to reduce levels of mercury at Leeds crematoria

Plans to reduce the level of mercury emissions from crematoria in Leeds will go before senior councillors next week.

The plans, outlined in a Leeds City Council executive board report, aim to reduce the level of mercury emissions produced by the city’s three crematoria by 50% by 2012to meet Government and European Union targets.

As the UK is now taking the lead on mercury reduction at a European level, all local authorities across the country have to take action to reduce mercury emissions.

Leeds City Council is proposing to install mercury abatement equipment at Rawdon Crematorium, which will carry out the required 2,800 cremations per year when the work is completed in 2012.

Mercury emissions have no significant effect of the environment locally, but the cumulative effect at a national level when they are transported to the sea and absorbed by fish which are then eaten, is a concern. People, particularly pregnant women, are advised to avoid eating foods with high levels of mercury because of the potential harmful effect.

Historically mercury had a range of uses, particularly in dental fillings which is why, when bodies are cremated, low levels of mercury are released into the atmosphere.

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

“The Government have set a national target for the 50% reduction of mercury emissions by 2012 and it is important that we make every effort meet this target and keep emissions under control. Our approach is to ensure emissions are reduced over the longer term in a planned and regulated way.”

Cremations account for 83% of funerals in Leeds compared to 72% nationally and the figure is expected to increase as the population rises. Leeds City Council is the fifth largest burial authority in the country dealing with approximately 5,600 cremations and the creation of 542 new graves every year. There are crematoria at Rawdon, Cottingley and Lawnswood.

The report puts forward proposals for new mercury abatement equipment to be installed at each of the three Leeds crematoria and outlines plans for the replacement of existing cremation plants with newer, improved versions.


Notes to editors

1. Officers from Leeds City Council will present the Crematoria Mercury Abatement report at a meeting of the council’s executive board committee on 25 August 2010.

2. In 2000, legislation was introduced to amend Regulation 37 of the Pollution Prevention Regulations 2000. PG5/2 (04) of the regulations requires that at least 50% of mercury emissions from crematoria should be abated before 31 December 2012.

3. The 50% target to reduce mercury emissions has been set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs.

For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.uk

Leeds council to support local users of Woodlands Care Centre in York

Leeds council are set to pledge their ongoing support for Leeds’ residents who receive respite care from a centre in York, which has been earmarked for closure by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Councillors at next week’s executive board meeting will be asked to approve plans to support the Leeds residents that are funded to use the centre in finding suitable alternative care arrangements.

Woodlands Respite Care Centre, faces an uncertain future following an 18-month review by the MS Society to assess how best to meet the needs of people living with Multiple Sclerosis going forward.

Unless a new care provider steps in to take over the lease, Woodlands will be closed by the end of 2011. If this happens, Leeds council will continue to support people in finding appropriate alternative respite services.

A deputation to Leeds council by the access committee in July raised concerns about the effect the potential closure of Woodlands would have on the people and families in Leeds that depend on it for specialist respite care.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“The Woodlands Care Centre has been a fantastic resource for people from Leeds living with MS, offering excellent facilities and specialist support and therapies for many years.

“The MS Society have decided to take a new approach to respite and short breaks, and following their review, could pull out of Woodlands and three other respite care centres around the country.

“Unfortunately, we can’t stop this from happening, but we are committed to working closely with the Leeds residents that are funded to use the centre and their carers to make sure that they know exactly what is happening, the alternatives that are available to them and that their needs continue to be met.”

Tim McSharry, head of disability and diversity at the access committee for Leeds said:
"The specialist support and resources at Woodlands are simply outstanding and an exemplar model that should be promoted across other respite care facilities. Faced with the decision by the MS Society and the potential loss of Woodlands, we took our deputation to council in the hope it would ensure that the care and respite needs of people in Leeds living with MS were fully recognised, and any resulting gaps addressed through focused and responsive management and planning.

"We are very thankful to Councillor Lucinda Yeadon and the executive members of Leeds City Council for acknowledging the importance of such key services, and Councillor Yeadon’s commitment to work together to elevate concerns and identify other appropriate services and facilities.”

Additional info

The MS Society’s current priority is to find another organisation to run its four centres and support their guests and staff through the changes. All their centres are currently open for business and no bookings are being cancelled.

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

Plans to invest £2m in Leeds park move forward

An ambitious plan to breathe new life into a Leeds park will take a step forward next week.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board (Wednesday 25 August) council chiefs will be asked to give the go-ahead to the next stage of a scheme to revamp Middleton Park in south Leeds.

The 630 acre park is just four miles from Leeds city centre and is hugely popular with local residents. It has an area of ancient woodland and a wealth of history, but now needs updating.

In July this year campaigners to improve the park, supported by Leeds City Council, celebrated news that that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had accepted their bid for a £1.46 million grant under the Parks for People programme. In December the council had agreed to invest a further £125,000, supported by a further grant of £287,000 from the Wades Charity.

At a meeting of the council’s executive board councillors will be asked to give final approval to the grant, agree the detailed improvement work and enter into a contract for the scheme with the HLF.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive board member responsible for Leisure said:

“The council agreed to invest in Middleton Park and we are delighted that thanks to the grants from the HLF and the Wades Charity, we are now in a position to move the project forward.

“Local groups have been very closely involved with this project and we will continue to work with them and keep them informed of progress. The aim is to bring the park up to the same standard and popularity as that of some of the city’s more well-known parks such as Roundhay and Golden Acre and restore it to the position it so richly deserves in our city.”

The scheme will restore many of the original Victorian features of the park and help attract more visitors through a new visitor centre, education centre and café facilities. New park entrances will be built with visitor information, signs, gates and art works. A new bandstand and performance area and seating will also be created.

Middleton Park has history of coal mining dating back to the 1660’s. The Middleton Railway which is the world's oldest working railway, founded in 1758, was originally used for transporting coal. It now carries visitors between Hunslet and a halt on the edge of the ancient woodlands.

Two areas of the park have been designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments due to the presence of historic coal mining remains, and a community archaeology project to record and understand the archaeology of the area is underway. The park also has golf courses, two bowling greens, a children's play area and other recreational areas.


Notes to editors:

1. The Design and Cost Report – The Development of Middleton Park through a Heritage Lottery Fund Parks for People Grant will be presented to members of Leeds City Council’s executive board at a meeting to be held at 1pm at the Leeds Civic Hall.

2. The Parks for People programme uses Lottery funds to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks. The programme aims to improve the local environment and put parks firmly back at the heart of community life. In England the two Lottery Funds have been working in partnership from 2006 to deliver a multi-million pound investment in public parks of £150m.

For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.uk

Couture in the market

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Video: Sarah Miller talking about the unique offering Mims Couture brings to Kirkgate market

Did you ever think you could place an order for tripe and order a custom made dress or outfit in the same place?

Well at Leeds Kirkgate market you can do just that. Mims Couture, a dressmaking, tailoring and alterations shop has been operating at the market for just 13 weeks, and orders are flying in already.

Sarah Miller runs the stall with her husband, and after just three weeks in the market, she expanded into a second unit to cope with the demand from customers. She receives orders for alterations, wedding dresses and ball gowns amongst many other weird and wonderful requests.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds Kirkgate Market champion said:
“Kirkgate market is a fantastic place to shop, and Mims Couture is one of the many fabulous shops that creates a great range of colour and life in the market.

“The market is the only place you can go and buy anything you need, from dresses to tripe and fish and vegetables, there is a stall for everything at the market.”

Mims Couture is located on Row B, stall 133, in the Leeds Indoor Market, opposite the Tripe Stall.

For more information about markets in Leeds, visit www.leedsmarkets.co.uk


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

Micklefield plays host to young people’s awards ceremony - media opportunity

Young people from one of Leeds’ more disadvantaged communities are being awarded for their part in putting together two successful youth projects in the area.

Over the past year Leeds City Council youth workers have worked closely with a large group of young people from Micklefield to organise football and boxercise projects.

To recognise the youngsters’ valuable contributions towards the planning and participation of these projects the young people will receive a Leeds Youth Award at a specially organised presentation evening on Thursday 19 August.

Media opportunity:
Members of the media are invited to attend the awards ceremony at Micklefield youth and adult centre, Great North Road, Leeds, LS25 4AF, on Thursday 19 August at 6.30pm. Leader of the council, Cllr Keith Wakefield, will be attending to see the young people awarded for their commitments. Young people, youth service staff and councillors will be available for photographs and interviews.

The award will demonstrate the positive contributions the young people have made to their personal development as well as the positive impact it has had in their community.

The young people successfully applied for a grant through the Leeds LS Cash fund for the boxercise project and during the football project they won one tournament and reached the semi-finals of another.

24 young people will receive certificates for the part they played in making the football and boxercise projects a success.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Being involved in these projects has not only helped the young people’s personal development, but it has also helped them gain greater understanding by working with young people from different backgrounds across the city.”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk