Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Plans to refurbish former primary school take a step forward

Senior councillors have today accepted a bid from a group of Leeds residents to retain an old primary school for community use - on condition that they raise the required level of funding in nine months.

Members of Leeds City Council’s executive board today agreed a nine month exclusivity deal to give the Royal Park Community Consortium the opportunity to raise the required level of funding to refurbish the former Royal Park Primary School in the Hyde Park area of Leeds. Progress will be checked after six months to make sure the scheme is on track.

Three bids to purchase the school were received - one to retain it for a range of community uses, one to convert it for housing and the other to refurbish it for offices, workshop space and community use.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member responsible for city development said:

“We recognise that the former Royal Park School is a much-loved building and that the extent to which it is made available for community use is a concern for residents.

“That is why we are doing everything we can to bring it back into community use and secure its restoration for future generations.

“I am pleased to report that the Royal Park Community Consortium will have a 9-month period to secure funding and the council will provide help where possible.

“The building has been out of use for over six years and the new administration is working hard to bring it back into community use.”

The former Royal Park Primary School was closed in 2004 and needs costly refurbishment work.

In November 2009, the council invited best and final offers for the property on condition that it would be fully refurbished and restored within two years. Bids were received in March 2010 but the council accepted a request from the community consortium that it be allowed more time to develop its plans.

In November 2009 a group of activists illegally occupied the building for three weeks. Leeds City Council took court action to have them evicted due to health and safety concerns. The council incurred legal costs of £2,948.50 which were awarded against the individuals responsible.

The council’s Inner North West Area Committee asked that the costs be waived. The executive board decided that it was appropriate for the Area Committee to pay the costs from their budget if they felt it necessary.

For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602

IT investment boost for children’s services

Council chiefs have today given the green light to invest in the latest technology to improve services for children and families in Leeds.

At today’s meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board (Wednesday 5 January), senior councillors agreed to invest in a new information technology system for children’s social care. The new technology is particularly needed to bring the infrastructure in to line with national standards, and ultimately better help protect vulnerable children and families in Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:

“Important decisions have to be taken everyday by front-line social care staff and managers on the unique and often complex support requirements for children. The new system will let them gather, record and share accurate information to and from multiple sources quickly and easily to help them make fully informed decisions. It will give staff more time to spend working directly with children and their families, and less time on administration duties.”

The new technology will enable the council to provide a more effective case management and information system and is just one part of a major programme of work to transform the whole of children’s services across the council.

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services said:

“If we’re serious about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in Leeds then we need to give our staff at the frontline the best tools to do the job. We’ve made significant improvements to our existing arrangements, but to move forward in the most effective way we need to invest in a smarter, more flexible system to help staff fulfil their responsibilities and meet the demands of keeping children safe.’’

Notes to editors:
The amount of investment has not been made public for commercially sensitive reasons.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Drop-in sessions for residents on household waste treatment proposals

Rothwell residents will be able to share their views and find out more about proposals to build a household waste treatment facility for Leeds during a special local drop-in session.

It will take place at Rothwell Methodist Church on Butcher Lane on Tuesday January 18, from noon to 8pm. Council officers will be on hand to talk through the plans and answer questions.

Two companies- Aire Valley Environmental and Veolia- are currently working with Leeds City Council on bids to provide waste treatment facilities for the city at either the Knostrop sewage treatment works site or the former wholesale market site on the Cross Green industrial estate.

The council is not expecting to choose a bidder and site until the summer of this year. It is keen to hear views from local people to ensure bidders take their concerns into account when planning their bids.

Susan Upton, head of waste management for Leeds City Council, said:

“We want local people to come along, express their opinions and find out as much as possible about what this scheme is all about.

“Their views are vital to informing how the two bids are put together and for their concerns to be addressed by the bidders.”

Anyone unable to attend the sessions can still tell the council what they think or find out more by writing to or emailing the project team. Include your name, address and telephone number and preferred method of contact and someone from the team will get in touch with you. You can also register to receive more information during the project.

Write to: Leeds Residual Waste Project, Environmental Services, FreepostRLXJ-ZYHY-GRSG, Leeds City Council, Knowsthorpe Gate, Cross Green, Leeds LS9 ONP

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