Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Free electricity for 1,000 homes in Leeds solar panel pilot

Free electricity will be available to 1,000 council tenants if a pilot scheme to install solar panels on roofs in Leeds gets the go-ahead.

The innovative idea being developed by Leeds City Council in partnership with locally-based social enterprise CES would mean greatly reduced electricity bills for 1,000 homes in the city.

The energy generated by their rooftop solar panels would save tenants over £100 a year on average, with the surplus being sold back to the National Grid.

Extra income received from government incentives would be shared between the council and the not-for-profit CES and ploughed back into expanding this and other energy-saving schemes.

Once up and running, the scheme would be offered to home-owners as well as council tenants, to make the benefits as widely available as possible.

With around 29% of Leeds’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions coming from domestic energy use, the principle of helping people be more energy efficient is high on the agenda.

Cllr David Blackburn, who chairs Leeds City Council’s cross-party environment and climate change working group, said:

“There are so many benefits from this fantastic scheme- tenants get free electricity and we get to invest still further into making the city more energy efficient.

“Just going about your daily life can create quite a lot of CO2 emissions and we need to work together as a city to address this. There are many ways for people to do their bit by using low-energy light bulbs, recycling or insulating for instance. This project will provide clean, green energy that will save people a lot of money.”

Members of the council’s executive board, who will consider the pilot scheme at their meeting next week (Dec 15) will hear that if the scheme were expanded to the installation of 10,000 solar photovoltaic (i.e. energy producing) systems it provide enough cash to:

• Fund cavity wall or loft insulation for 64,500 private homes, a substantial contribution to the council’s aim to improve insulation in homes across the city;
• Save around £11 million a year on fuel bills;
• Reduce CO2 emissions by 68,000 tonnes a year.

If the scheme is approved, the council will work on identifying suitable homes for the solar panels, while CES will install them, monitor energy production and maintain them for 25 years.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335

Valuables warning to motorists

Motorists are being warned to take valuables with them when leaving their cars, after a spate of thefts across the city.

Twenty-one cars were broken into across Leeds on the night of the 6/7 December. The thieves searched the glove compartments before making off with six satellite navigation systems as well as a number of mobile phones and car stereos.

Crime prevention experts at Safer Leeds, the city’s crime-fighting partnership, warned that hiding valuables in the glove compartment was no longer sufficient to deter criminals and that motorists should take other precautions.

Supt Simon Whitehead, Chief Officer for Safer Leeds, said:
“Even if your sat nav is not actually on show, these thieves will be on the look out for signs that you have one. So they will look for the circular sucker marks on the windscreens where it has been attached. That’s when they are likely to break in and head straight for the glove compartment.
“The advice from Safer Leeds is to remove the sat nav, including all cradles and connections and then wipe the windscreen to remove tell-tale signs. If possible, put a card in the windscreen saying that there are no valuables left in the car.
“And if for some reason you have to leave your sat nav in the car - don’t leave your home address on it – because if your car’s not at home the chances are your house will be empty.”

Third landlord fined for renting house in Cross Green without a license

A third landlord has been convicted after failing to heed warnings that she had to properly license a rented house in an area of Leeds.

At Leeds Magistrates Court last week, Charlotte Louise Yorke pleaded guilty to renting 209 Cross Green Lane without a Selective Licence. She was fined £1,050 and ordered to pay costs of £693.

Miss Yorke, of 2 Milton Drive, Scholes, Leeds, was prosecuted following a visit to her property in September 2010 by a council officer, who discovered the property was tenanted but no licence had been applied for. She was sent numerous warnings about her legal obligation to licence the property but ignored them.

In a bid to crack down on anti-social tenants and poor housing, part of Cross Green and East End Park in Leeds was designated as an area of Selective Licensing last October. It means all owners of privately rented properties in the area need a special licence to operate.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“Miss Yorke is the third landlord to be successfully prosecuted under the Cross Green Selective Licensing and although she has now applied, she will be charged the full £525 licence fee.
“In her attempts to evade the charge, it has actually cost Miss Yorke four times the amount it would have done had she applied for a license.
“The majority of landlords in Leeds take their responsibilities seriously, but there are a few who show little or no interest in managing their properties responsibly.
“Designating an area as a selective licensing area helps the council to deal with bad landlords and should prevent those sort of problems happening in that area.
“We will continue to prosecute landlords who flagrantly defy these provisions.”

In a selective licensing area the landlord must also meet a ‘fit and proper person’ test to obtain a licence. Their rented properties must meet the licence conditions, ensuring they are safe and that the landlord can, and will, deal with anti-social tenants. Failure to have applied for or obtained a licence could mean a fine, on conviction, of up to £20,000.

The aim is to help to address issues of low demand affecting the area and reduce the anti-social behaviour of tenants in privately rented properties. Landlords will not be made responsible for the actions of their tenants, but they will be expected to take action if they know that their tenants are causing a problem.

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