Monday, 13 December 2010

Leeds International Film Festival proves box office smash

Piture caption: the spectacular Leeds Town Hall converted into a theatre for Leeds International Film Festival

This year’s Leeds International Film Festival has been confirmed as the biggest ever – smashing all audience records in its 24-year-history.

The 18-day festival attracted a total audience of 29,000 people – an impressive rise of 20 per cent on last year – eager to take in everything from cult classics to up-and-coming titles.

A second sell-out screening of Oscar-hopeful ‘The King’s Speech’ helped boost this year’s audience numbers, with film fans eager to see the story starring Colin Firth which was partly filmed in Leeds.

Audiences were asked to score films following every screening and ‘The King’s Speech’ was awarded favourite fiction feature at the festival while music documentary ‘High on Hope’, which retells the story of acid house and warehouse parties in 1989-91, won overall audience favourite.

On the back of these figures the festival has confirmed it will celebrating its quarter century next year from 3 - 20 November 2011 with exciting plans based around the use of the Town Hall, which played a key role in this year’s success (pictured above).

Chris Fell, Director of Leeds International Film Festival, said:

“These audience figures only go to show how popular and important this festival is and for our silver anniversary next year we hope it will be bigger and better than ever before. We’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s festival for making it such an incredible event.”

Horror fans turned out en masse to enjoy some of the year’s most talked-about titles all on one day. The Fanomenon element of the festival has quickly established itself as one of the most anticipated events in the country for fans of international horror and genre films.

The 24th Leeds International Film Festival was presented by Leeds City Council and supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and Screen Yorkshire with lead sponsors anCnoc Highland Single Malt Whisky, East Coast, Leeds Brewery, Northern Rail, twentysix Digital, Bewley’s Hotels, VUE Cinemas and

Venues taking part in the festival were: The Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds Grand Theatre’s Howard Assembly Room, VUE Cinema in The Light, The HiFi Club, Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds University, Saviles Hall and East Street Arts.

Notes to Editors:

Leeds International Film Festival is the largest regional film festival in the UK, showcasing the very best new cinema from around the world. For more information visit the website at

High resolution images are available.


For media enquiries please contact:Daniel Johnson, Leisure Communications Officer, tel: 0113 247 8285, email:

Feel the heat as Tropical World goes calypso crazy

Caption: The waterfall at Tropical World and walkways are given a whole new look for Totally Tropical Christmas

Visitors to Tropical World in Roundhay will have the chance to escape the winter cold this week as the annual Totally Tropical Christmas begins.

Running each night from Saturday 18 to Wednesday 22 December, a slice of the Caribbean warmth and atmosphere comes to Leeds with the popular visitor attraction illuminated by fairy lights and echoing to the festive sounds of the Foxwood Steel Bandits supported by young musicians from a number of local schools.

Visitors will also be able to see some of the star residents including the rare albino Burmese Python, the Yellow Anaconda and the three Morelet’s Crocodiles.

Leeds City Council head of parks and countryside Sean Flesher said:

“Totally Tropical Christmas is a great annual event which offers the perfect chance to escape the current cold conditions outside and celebrate Christmas in a fun atmosphere which the whole family can enjoy.

“Tropical World is transformed for the event so looks very different to how it is for the rest of the year so for anyone who has not been it is definitely to be recommended as a great night out.”

Totally Tropical Christmas runs from 5-8pm every night from 18-22 December. Last admission is at 7:30pm with admission priced at £3.25 for adults, £2 for children (aged 5-15) with free entry for LEEDSCard/Breezecard holders and all under-5s.

Notes to editors:
Located opposite Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants outside Kew Gardens and also houses birds, butterflies, fish, other reptiles, nocturnal monkeys and bats.

Tropical World was officially renamed ‘The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World’ in 2008 in honour of the local benefactors for their lifelong support for the area and the city.

For further information on Tropical World and its opening hours go to or call 0113 214 5715.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, email:

Lincoln Green drug dealer caught on camera

A man distributing Class A drugs in the Lincoln Green area of Leeds is behind bars after being caught on CCTV.

At Leeds Crown Court, CCTV evidence from East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL) was used by West Yorkshire Police to convict Hannibal Elias for drug trafficking offences. He was sentenced to six and a half years in jail.

Elias had broken in to a flat while the occupant was in hospital. He used the flat to stockpile drugs to distribute them to street level dealers in the area. Working closely with the police, officers from ENEHL reviewed 160 hours of CCTV footage, capturing Elias’s illegal activities and movements.

As part of Operation Bahamas, the police worked with ENEHL’s CCTV team to tape Elias dealing heroin and crack cocaine to known drug users around the Boston Towers area in Lincoln Green.

Two well-known drug users, Kelvin McLean and Stuart Brisbane, from the area were also convicted of possession of heroin and received fines.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:
“If anyone is in any doubts about why Leeds spends money on CCTV cameras then this case should dispel them.
“The key role CCTV played in the prosecution shows the worth of having a network of cameras which protects the public and ensures that criminals can be brought to book.”

Angelena Fixter, chair of East North East Homes Leeds board, said:
“Nobody wants to live in an area blighted by drugs and other anti-social behaviour.
“We take drug dealing on our estates extremely seriously and will work in partnership with the police and courts, to help make our neighbourhoods peaceful, safe and pleasant areas to live.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said:
"CCTV is just one of the many investigative tools available to be police and in this case it has helped to secure jail sentences for drug dealers in north east Leeds.
“We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that local communities are not blighted by crime."

Notes to editors:
Elias was arrested on the 19 January 2010 on suspicion of drug dealing as part of West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Bahamas. On 6 September 2010, Elias was convicted of drug trafficking.

Operation Bahamas is a West Yorkshire Police led operation targeting the distribution of class A drugs the Burmantofts and Lincoln Green areas of Leeds.

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

Mobile poster drives home the message – lock doors and leave a light on

A mobile poster has been helping to drive home the message about burglary around Leeds.

A van carrying a giant poster with a vital anti-burglary message has been touring areas around the inner city.

The vast majority of burglaries happen when the house is unoccupied and the 12 feet by 13 feet poster is designed to highlight the need for householders to take greater security measures against burglars as the dark nights continue.

Locking doors and windows, and leaving lights on – particularly during the darker nights – could prevent up to half of the burglaries in some areas of the city.

The van is part of a city-wide campaign by Safer Leeds the city’s crime-fighting partnership to cut burglary across the city.

Councillor Peter Gruen, chair of Safer Leeds and Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety, said:
“We know that the vast majority of burglaries happen when the house is unoccupied.
“If householders keep valuables out of sight and make their homes look lived in by using timers on their lights they are far less likely to become victims of crime.
“With the festive season fast approaching, people should take extra care while they are away to ensure that it remains a happy Christmas – simple precautions can make a big difference.”

Home security is vital but many homes are fitted with locks that don’t meet British standards. For a free security check phone CASAC on 0113 3805650 or see

Other precautions include marking property with an invisible ultraviolet pen, using cycle labels and registering your property free at

For more information see the crime reduction pages on the Safer Leeds website at

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

Innovative free school meals to boost healthy eating in Leeds

A new initiative which will improve access to healthy food and make free school dinners more widely available is being launched this week.

Education Leeds launched a pilot in secondary schools earlier this year to make free school meals available from break time so young people could choose to eat healthy food when they were hungry and not have to wait until lunch time.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
Media are invited to the launch of the new free school meals initiative at Roundhay School on Tuesday 14 December at 10.30am. It will be attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Patrick Davey. Please email or call 0113 3951577 to confirm attendance.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

Pre-ordered ‘grab bags’ - consisting of a sandwich, dessert and drink - were made available during break time to young people who took free school meals as an alternative to traditional lunchtime meals.

Following the pilot’s success, it’s being officially launched at Roundhay School on Tuesday 14 December from 10.30am. The launch will be attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Patrick Davey, who will meet young people when they submit their order forms for their grab bags for that day. He will also find out more about how the scheme encourages young people to eat healthily and take up their free school meal entitlement.

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“The parents of children and young people who are eligible for a free school meal should make sure they take up the offer as it can give their children a real boost during the day - especially during cold weather. A nutritious school meal delivers benefit directly to children from lower income families and can improve attention, learning, outcomes and overall health.

“This new scheme is another example of working differently in Leeds to increase the uptake of free schools meals - whether it’s a traditional, healthy hot meal at lunch time or a healthy packed lunch at break time.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“School meals make a significant contribution to the health and learning of children and young people and this new scheme will help ensure even more young people in our secondary schools are benefiting. We are always looking at new ways to increase the uptake of our free school meals and I am confident this new scheme will help us achieve this.”

This year’s pilot was prompted by research by Leeds Metropolitan University, on behalf of Education Leeds, which suggested many children who are eligible for free school meals fail to take up their entitlement and then snack on unhealthy food during the day and eat, an often unhealthy, packed lunch.

The research found that young people eligible for a free school meal often choose to not take up the offer because they: choose not to queue for lunch; choose to be with friends who bring a packed lunch from home, leave the school grounds for lunch or just don’t want to be identified as a free school meal pupil.

Education Leeds will also continue working with the city’s other secondary schools and academies to encourage them to sign up to the scheme, the benefits of which include:
• Children and young people accessing healthy food when they are hungry and still being able to take part in other leisure and sport activities at lunchtime;
• Families being assured their children are accessing their healthy school lunch;
• The school demonstrating its ongoing work and commitment to improve children and young people’s health;
• Education Leeds increasing the number of children and young people who take up their free school meal entitlement.

The programme complements a range of activities that encourage families to take up their free school meal entitlement to help improve their children’s health and concentration. Earlier this year, five videos were made by young people and launched at Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School, to be shown in schools and doctors’ surgeries, to promote free school meals and highlight their benefits.

These and other resources to increase free school meal uptake can be seen at


Notes to editors:

Schools which took part in the pilot project included: Allerton Grange School, Allerton High School, Brigshaw High School and Language College, Cockburn, Lawnswood School, Otley Prince Henry’s Grammar School and Roundhay School Technology and Language College.

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

Council tribute to Leeds philanthropist

Leeds City Council is to pay tribute to inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jimi Heselden OBE by acknowledging and honouring him alongside the freeman of the city.

Jimi Heselden, chairman of HESCO Bastion, world-leading manufacturers in force protection, humanitarian aid and civil engineering based in East Leeds, and renowned for his remarkable selflessness and generosity, will have his name placed alongside previous recipients of freedom of the city at the civic hall. The posthumous honour will be a unique public memorial to him.

Mr Heselden died earlier this year in a tragic accident near his home at Wetherby, Leeds.

A special council meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 January 2011 which will pay tribute to a man who was very much involved in Leeds life, especially with his charity work. Immediate family and guests will be attending.

Throughout his lifetime he was extremely generous to a large range of charities including Help for Heroes, St Gemma's and Martin House Hospice's and the Leeds Community Foundation, which received £23m alone, £10m of which was donated earlier this year.

The Lord Mayor and the council’s five group leaders will pay tribute to Mr Heselden at the meeting before a scroll is presented to his family as acknowledgement of his inclusion among the Freeman of the City recipients and to show the city’s appreciation of Mr Heselden’s contribution to Leeds.

Mr Heselden worked closely with the council on the past two RHS Chelsea Flower show gardens. This year, history was made when the HESCO Garden 2010 won the ever first gold medal for Leeds City Council, and also became the first gold medal-winner by a local authority in the elite outdoor show garden category in the entire 148-year history of the event – a fantastic achievement.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jim McKenna said:

“Jimi was an amazing man who apart from being a real success story for Leeds was also remarkably selfless and generous giving millions to local charities and other worthy causes.
“Everyone who knew Jimi will remember his quiet manner, good nature, and tremendous pride in being from Leeds. He will be hugely missed.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of council said:

“Jimi was an extraordinary person, an inspiration and a great role model, and a genuinely nice man, and we felt it only right to break with tradition to honour him in this way.

“Jimi played a real part in city life, sponsoring the Chelsea Garden two years in a row, and achieving gold status at this year’s competition – a true historical moment that will not be forgotten. Had Jimi lived, he would almost certainly received freeman status.”

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of the Conservative on Leeds City Council party said:

“Jimi was a true son of Leeds, his experiences growing up and working in the city had a major influence on his life. His enthusiasm for Leeds was well known and his investment and commitment to helping community groups and charities were an example to us all.

He was a warm and generous man who achieved great things in his life and he will be remembered as a one in a million character leaving a legacy his family can be rightly proud of.”

Councillor Stewart Golton, leader of the Liberal Democrat party on Leeds City COuncil said:

"Jimi Heselden was a fantastic role model for the City. He pulled himself up by his boot-straps from humble beginnings to become one of the City's biggest benefactors."

Freedom of the city is the highest honour a city can present, but this is the first time a posthumous honour has been issued to anyone in the city.

Under council rules, individuals have to be alive to be given freedom of the city, but the council wanted to honour Mr Heselden in a similar style by including his name on this list alongside other Freeman of the City.
The last person to be given the freedom of the city was author and dramatist, Alan Bennett. Mr Heselden’s name will be inscribed alongside Alan Bennett’s on the list of recipients in the banqueting suite in Civic Hall.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

An early Christmas present for Leeds shoppers – 2,000 free parking spaces

Leeds City Council is giving festive shoppers an early Christmas present – more than 2,000 free car-parking spaces on the busiest shopping days of the year.

In a boost to local businesses in the run up to Christmas and in the post-Christmas sales, parking at a ‘ring’ of car-parks just outside the city centre – including the city’s biggest multiple-storey car-park – will be free on specific dates during the holiday season.

Parking in these car parks will be free on Saturday 18 December and Saturday 8 January:
• Woodhouse Lane – 1,272 spaces
• Quarry Hill – 400 spaces
• Meadow Lane / Hunslet Lane – 90 spaces
• Maude Street – 35 spaces
• West Street – 238 spaces

And there will be free parking throughout the city on 25 – 28 December and 1 – 3 January, although this does not include the staffed car-parks at Woodhouse Lane and Queens Hall.

Also, all council-run car-parks in Otley will be free on Saturday 18th December.

Councillor Tom Murray, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Times have been hard for local businesses recently and we want to make sure that everyone – shoppers and traders alike – has reason to be cheerful this Christmas.
“We’re making more than 2,000 parking spaces free for certain dates before, during and after Christmas, which should encourage people to visit the city, support local shops and enjoy some of our restaurants and bars.
“By making these car-parks free on some of the busiest shopping days of the year, we’re hoping the local economy will receive a very welcome boost.”

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