Friday, 11 February 2011

Elect to join council’s elections staff

Be paid for playing your part in local democracy by joining Leeds City’s Council’s elections staff for this year’s elections.

Temporary opportunities are available for a variety of different jobs, such as counting or opening postal votes.

This year’s local elections take place on Thursday May 5 and will be a busy time for the council as it hosts its own elections as well as town & parish council polls, while also preparing for the possibility of a national referendum.

The referendum, on possible changes to the way votes are assigned to candidates, is currently being debated constitutionally. If it gets the go-ahead the referendum is likely to take place on the same day as the local elections.

Meanwhile, the council is busy preparing for the polls and recruiting elections staff to work in a number of support roles, including:

• Working in polling stations
• Verifying and counting votes
• Opening and verifying postal votes
• Inspecting polling stations
Casual staff are required for a number of dates ranging from 26 April to 6 May.
You have to be aged over 18 to apply and you can find full details and download an application form here on the council’s website: employment at elections in Leeds Alternatively, you can call 0113- 395 2858 or email

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


Leeds Crisis Centre proposals to go ahead

Council chiefs have given the go ahead to proposals to close the Leeds Crisis Centre, at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board today.

The council has said it will honour any commitments made to service users who are currently using the service and will pick an appropriate time at which no new referrals will be taken.

The recommendation to close the centre comes at a time when the council is being forced to look at all services it provides, following government spending cuts.

Local authorities are not legally required to provide counselling services and Leeds is one of the few councils in the country that has provided such a service. As a city, Leeds has a range of alternative excellent crisis services. Existing users of the council crisis centre will be signposted to these and provided with support in accessing them.

Sandie Keene, Leeds City Council director of adult social services said:

“Leeds Crisis Centre has provided an excellent service for over 20 years, and we know that it is valued by the people that have been helped by it. We also know that people who use this centre are feeling vulnerable and anxious about the future changes, but we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to support them through this period of change.

“There will be an information campaign to make sure people know how to access alternative, high quality services and we will work closely with NHS to they are directed to the right service at the right time as in the past, many people have been sent here wrongly.

“Our local NHS mental health services have increased significantly since the crisis centre opened, and with the additional NHS funding announced by the government earlier this month, access to psychological therapies services will improve further.

“Any clients currently receiving counselling from the centre will complete their agreed treatment, but no further referrals will be taken. We will work with the PCT, Leeds Partnership Foundation Trust (LPFT) and Leeds Community Healthcare to make sure that the alternative counselling and support services in the city are known to referrers to ensure continuity of service.

“We will support the centre’s staff in finding alternative positions within the NHS psychological services where we can and likewise, if they decide to develop the crisis centre as a social enterprise we will support them in looking at how this option could be taken forward. “

In recent years, the government has invested heavily in Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services within the NHS. As a result, NHS mental health services in Leeds have expanded and become more accessible, with a wider variety of service available - particularly around the problems of anxiety and depression.

One example of a service for people who are at risk or in crisis is the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) service provided by the NHS. This is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service which operates in the community. The service ensures that people experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis receive the most rapid, least restrictive and most appropriate from of assessment and home treatment.

John Lawlor, chief executive of NHS Leeds said:

“The council and the NHS both recognise that in this challenging financial climate we must ensure the total amount of money we have available to meet health and social care needs is used most effectively for the benefit of Leeds residents.

"In this particular situation we are working closely together to make sure people receive an appropriate and safe service wherever they live in Leeds. GPs and others who refer to the crisis centre are aware of the range of alternative services which are available both through the NHS and the voluntary sector”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:

“The decision to close Leeds Crisis Centre has not been taken lightly, but is a sad consequence of the devastating spending cuts passed onto us by the government.

“We have had to look at the bigger picture and take into consideration all the alternatives that are available in the city. It just isn’t possible for us to continue to fund the centre when the NHS receives significant funding for its mental health and couselling services, which are expanding and are accessible to everyone.

“We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in society and will work closely with NHS Leeds to ensure that people in need are correctly signposted to the services they need.”


Notes to Editors:

Crisis services in Leeds:
Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Service
The National Service Framework for Mental Health (1999) called for NHS mental health services to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the community, for people in mental health crisis. The 2000 NHS Plan, which stated the government’s intention to modernise mental health services, included the introduction of crisis resolution teams.
As a result, the Leeds Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has a fully-available, 24 hours a day crisis resolution service called the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Service (CHRT).

This NHS team is the first point of access for service users who might be in a high-risk category and present as an emergency to secondary mental health services. The CRHT service ensures that people experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis receive the most rapid, least restrictive and most appropriate form of assessment and home treatment.

Dial HouseDial House in Halton is a non-residential safe house to provide sanctuary and support for people experiencing a mental health crisis. It is run by the Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service. It is open 6pm to 2am Monday to Friday and people can telephone to request a visit to attend at the premises between 6 and 10.30pm.
Those who use this service will be facing acute mental crisis, ranging from attempted suicide to self-harm and family break-up. The service helps between 60 and 100 people a month and has a good record in supporting this group and of preventing hospital admission.

Connect Helpline
Also provided by the Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service, Connect Helpline is a telephone helpline open 6pm to 10.30pm every night of the year for people living in Leeds. Its users are people in crisis, anxious, depressed or lonely and they are offered non-judgmental and empathic support and information about other services.
Connect Helpline supports people who are in crisis as well as providing a preventive service by supporting people before they reach crisis point. The service also receives funding to provide emotional support for carers.

Both Dial House and Connect helpline are crisis services jointly funded by the NHS and the Council as an alternative to NHS provision.

Alternative counselling services
Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
Enquiries made by adult social care show that in addition to the service described above for people in crisis, the NHS-run IAPT services can offer a prompt response if the individual’s needs require it, with appointments possible within 2-5 days of first contact, sometimes sooner if the person can be flexible about where in the city the appointment can be arranged.
However, the IAPT services provided are not primarily designed as immediate access or crisis intervention services and NHS commissioners have committed to further develop primary care counselling services to extend opening hours and the range of therapies on offer.
People with severe mental health problems, in an acute mental health crisis or actively suicidal need to be referred to the appropriate clinical service, either a psychiatric appointment or the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team
It is acknowledged that the ability to respond to individuals promptly is an important preventive service. Statutory partners agree that the responsibility for this type of service lies with the NHS and that in a time of severe budgetary constraints the local authority cannot continue to fund this function. Adult Social Care is working closely with NHS commissioners to provide detail on the work of the Crisis Centre to support them in considering options to meet this need.

Non-NHS counselling services
A wide range of counselling services are available in Leeds, as can be seen at Appendix 3 of the executive board report. The Alliance of Counselling Agencies and Volition both produce up-to-date lists of counselling services in Leeds for individuals and professionals.
These include city-wide, group services, such as Leeds Counselling, the Leeds Wellbeing Centre and the Samaritans. Others serve individual communities, such as the Beck, which is for people aged 16-25 years.
Others provide services for groups within communities, such as the Black Health Initiative and REAP (African, African Caribbean and dual heritage), Solace (asylum seekers), Archway and The Market Place (young people), Cruse (bereaved people), Women’s Counselling and Therapy (women) and Mesmac (gay and bisexual people).

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Education standards improve as Leeds looks to the future

Progress continues to be made in Leeds schools with children and young people benefiting from better standards of education than ever before.

Leeds City Council’s executive board heard today (Friday) that Leeds primary and secondary schools continue to improve - but support will be needed to ensure all schools meet new proposed floor standards set out by the government.

At secondary level, more young people than ever before achieved five or more GCSEs, including English and maths, in 2010. Three quarters of all young people achieved five or more GCSEs and fewer young people left school with no qualifications.

At primary level, standards continue to improve and in 2010 there were increases in the levels of attainment at foundation level, key stage 1 and key stage 2. While achievement continues to increase, there is still work to do to match the national average and Leeds’ statistical neighbours.

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“There has been significant progress in education across Leeds at primary and secondary level following a decade of high investment in schools. GCSE results this year were the best the city has ever seen meaning more young people than ever before are qualified to make the best possible start to life after school. Our primary schools are improving and there is a strong foundation for this to continue.

“These latest figures highlight the good work that Education Leeds has carried out over the last 10 years and the strong position many schools are in. However, we know there is a need to raise standards in certain areas and will ensure that every school has our support to become even better in the future.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said:
“We want schools to challenge, support and encourage every student to achieve their full potential. Education has improved over a number of years in Leeds and more and more children and young people are doing better than ever before.

“However we are not complacent and will continue to work with schools to ensure this upward trend continues. Our schools have a strong foundation to build on with excellent teachers and first class facilities which will help ensure all children young people have access to the best possible education.”

At secondary school level, GCSE results in 2010 marked the end of a decade of change to learning in Leeds. There has been a large investment in school facilities and this has been complemented by a significant improvement in achievement.

For the first time, 2010 saw over half of all pupils in Leeds achieve 5A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths. The proportion of young people achieving five or more GCSEs rose to 75 per cent, nearly double the figure 10 years ago, which means an extra 2,800 students achieve this level every year compared to 2001. The number not achieving any GCSEs fell to under 150, out of around 8,000 young people - less than two per cent.

There were notable improvements in the achievements of black and minority ethnic students as well as looked after children and children with special needs.

Persistent absence levels have decreased with 300 less in 2009/10 compared to the year before. Since 2005/6, the number of students who were persistently absent has reduced from over 4,600 to 3,000.

Of the original 13 national challenge schools (schools with 5A*-C results below 30 per cent) only three remain – but this number rises to eight if the new measurement of 35 per cent outlined in the government’s White paper is adopted.

At primary school level, early years foundation stage (0-5yrs old) saw a two percentage point rise in the number of children reaching a good level of development (GLD) on the back of a four per cent rise in 2009.

At Key Stage 1 (years 1 and 2), the percentage of pupils achieving level 2 or above is unchanged for each subject. Nationally, performance improved by one percent in reading but remained the same in maths and writing.

Key Stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 and 6) results are less accurate following the boycott of exams which saw only 57 per cent of schools in Leeds take part. However the Department for Education considers that figure to be representative of the city and the results showed improvements across all subjects.

The percentage achieving level 4 or above increased by one percentage point for English and three for maths while the percentage achieving level 5 or above increased by one point in English but decreased by two points in maths.


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

Proposals to modernise mental health services in Leeds agreed

Leeds City Council’s executive board has approved plans to modernise mental health day services in the city at its meeting today (Fri Feb 11).

Detailed discussions with service users will now begin to work out together how to meet their individual needs within the new system.

The plans will see a move away from traditional ‘building-based’ day services to more individualised support, which will help people to get involved in social activities, access training or education, or get back to work.

The ‘i3 project’, a comprehensive consultation about mental health day services in the city, the aims of which are to inspire, include and improve, sought the views of service users and other interested parties, has informed the proposals.

One of the key aims of this project was to recognise people’s concerns and anxieties and work with individuals to achieve the best possible way forward for their care.

The 'No health without mental health' strategy, announced by the government, outlines a new emphasis on early intervention and prevention to help tackle the underlying causes of mental ill-health. Central to these plans is an additional investment of around £400m to the NHS over the next four years to expand and help people use their Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service.

The range of mental health community services currently provided directly by the council are three day centres, the community alternatives team, social enterprise-type services based around gardening and cooking, three supported living units and the Leeds Crisis Centre. A number of similar services are funded by the council and provided by voluntary organisations in the city.

The proposals see a move away from traditional services delivered from three buildings to having a tiered level of service with one day centre (operating from the new Lovell Park Centre) providing an intensive recovery service, supported by a larger city-wide community alternatives team (CAT), an employment support team and a social enterprise development programme.

Expanding community support services will enable more people to access the service, and release funds currently tied up in buildings to allow a greater number of venues based out in local communities to be established.

Secondly, from this service and from those provided by the voluntary sector, a new co-ordinated system of mental health day services will be created in partnership with NHS Leeds via a competitive tendering exercise. This re-commissioning is expected to deliver both cost efficiencies in the region of 25% and an overall better quality service.

The final phase will be a review of council-provided supported accommodation, as many other specialist providers locally and nationally already provide these services. At present, there are three hostels in Leeds for people experiencing mental illness, which are being replaced by the independent living project. A further report detailing options for the future of supported accommodation will be presented to executive board in July 2011.

A separate report gives details on the proposals to close the Leeds Crisis Centre. Counselling services are not a statutory function of the council, and there is no evidence that any other council in the country provides them. It is widely accepted that counselling and crisis intervention services are NHS functions, not those of a local authority.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“Our day centres have provided a good service for many years, but in the light of changing social policy we need to modernise the way we do things.

“Increasingly, people want services which are more suited to their individual needs, and we want to support them by promoting independence rather than dependency, focusing on the hopes of clients in helping them to get back to their best-possible health.

“Due to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, adult social care budgets are tighter than ever. By working with NHS Leeds and our voluntary sector partners, we strongly believe that we can develop a high quality, efficient service for the future that meets people’s needs effectively.

“Making these changes will ensure that services are available to help people to recover or to better manage their condition, and enable them to take part in activities which are available to everyone – like education, training and employment.

“We realise that people are anxious and want to reassure them that we will engage fully with everyone in developing the new service.”


Additional information:
There are currently 50 different mental health day services in Leeds, provided by four different types of agency. About 2000 people are registered with 14 day services, with around 200 people using more than one service at the same time.
The whole service costs £2.5m a year, split between the council and NHS Leeds (the council pays £2.25m, rest paid by NHS Leeds).
Participants in the ‘i3 consultation’ (2005-9) included local day centre staff and users, Leeds Mind, Dosti, Leeds Housing Concern, Making Space and Touchstone.
The community alternatives team (CAT)
The CAT has been in existence since 1996 and was originally designed to offer a complementary service to day centres, in recognition of the fact that not everybody with mental health problems would want or need to access a day centre.
It supports people to improve their mental health by helping them to put in place things we all take for granted, such as friendships, social activities, volunteering and taking steps to get back to work. Some groups are supported by staff and some are user-led with support from staff on a consultative basis. They frequently help people to join mainstream community groups eg. local walking groups.

For media enquiries please contact:
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578


Decent homes for Leeds – council hits housing facelift target

Caption: East North East Homes Leeds tenant Rosemary Windsor with her new kitchen.

23,000 kitchens, 13,600 bathrooms and more than 30,000 windows replaced – council housing in Leeds has never looked so good, as the city’s largest ever programme of improvements has hit its target.

Thanks to Leeds City Council’s seven-year £825million ‘Decent Homes’ programme, 53,956 council homes have been refurbished across the city by the three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) and the Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation (BITMO), which all manage and maintain housing in the city on behalf of the council.

Since the ALMOs were created in 2003, they have worked tirelessly to meet the government target of the end of 2010 for council homes to meet the ‘Decent Homes Standard’.

Tens of thousands of kitchens, bathrooms, doors, window, roofs, chimneys and central heating systems have been replaced. There have even been homes which have had new external walls built around them to create cavity walls for insulation and 96% of council homes now have central heating – just 50% had it at the start of the programme.

By the end of last year, more than 95% of council properties in Leeds met the standard thanks to the work by Aire Valley Homes Leeds, East North East Homes Leeds, West North West Homes Leeds and the Belle Isle Tenant and Management Organisation.

And with many tenants finding times hard, the scheme is not only keeping them warm it’s also saving them money – energy efficiency through new cavity wall insulation and loft insulation will combat ‘fuel poverty’ in the city.

Leeds was able to be given extra money as its ALMOs have had two star (‘good’) status from the Audit Commission housing inspectorate.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for housing, said:

“Meeting the decent homes standard has been a massive operation – but I’m delighted that we will hit the deadline, with the vast majority of work completed last year.

“The ALMOs, which were created to help deliver this programme, have worked tirelessly to deliver hundreds of millions of pounds worth of improvements and refurbishments.

“Council housing has always played a vital role in this city and thanks to these works it will continue to do so for decades to come.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the people behind the hard work but also to tenants and residents, who have been very patient as the works have taken place.”

Notes to editors:

The definition of ‘Decent Homes’

The government set a target to ensure that all social housing – housing owned by a local authority or a Registered Social Landlord – meets the Decent Homes Standard. A decent home is one that is wind and weather tight, warm and has modern facilities.

The number of installations completed by each ALMO:

Aire Valley Homes Leeds

Kitchens 7,683
Bathrooms 3,266
Doors 7,915
Windows 8,486
Roof coverings 1,944
Chimneys 370
Loft insulation 6,447
Cavity wall 4,606
Rewiring 7,238
Heating 5,681

East North East Homes Leeds

Kitchens 6,245
Bathrooms 4,493
Doors 9,568
Windows 8,402
Roof coverings 1,120
Chimneys 723
Loft insulation 6,657
Cavity wall 6,657
Rewiring 5,337
Heating 4,523

West North West Homes Leeds

Kitchens 9,071
Bathrooms 5,841
Doors 14,854
Windows 13,793
Roof coverings 5,401
Chimneys 4,014
Insulation 18,531
Walls 4,615
Rewiring 6,748
Heating 10,597

Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation

Doors 2,525
Kitchens 1,100
Bathrooms 857
Windows 780
Roofs & chimneys 381
Loft insulation 676
Cavity insulation 1,098
Rewires 694
Heating 617

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

Nuisance neighbour evicted after catalogue of anti-social behaviour

A woman who made the lives of her neighbours a misery with violent, drunken and abusive behaviour has been evicted from her home and banned from her local neighbourhood.

Louise Thornton, who lived at 41 Holtdale Drive, Cookridge, was evicted from the address after a successful closure order was secured by Leeds City Council, West North West Homes Leeds and West Yorkshire Police earlier this month.

Between April 2009 and October 2010, Thornton amassed a lengthy list of anti-social incidents including abusive language, threats to neighbours, drunken screaming and swearing in the street and frequent parties being held at her home. She also persistently took money from a neighbour without permission, on at least 44 occasions. Between 1 April and 6 October 2010, the police were called to her address 33 times.

The closure order and banning from the local area was issued by Leeds County Court and lasts until September this year.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member for community safety and chair of the Safer Leeds board, said:“This extensive catalogue of anti-social behaviour had a negative impact on the everyday lives of decent, law abiding people. Despite our frequent efforts to help and support Louise Thornton to stop behaving this way, we had no choice but to take direct action through the courts to remove her from the property and the local community.

“Anti-social behaviour, of any sort, will not be tolerated and the council, police and our partners will continue to work together to make Leeds a safer, more pleasant place.”

Inspector Richard Coldwell, who heads the North West Outer Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:
"It is completely unacceptable for people to behave in a way that impacts on their neighbours’ quality of life and we will not tolerate it. This case clearly shows the sort of action we can take alongside our partners in the council to bring a lasting long-term solution.

"We hope it will serve as a clear warning to people who refuse to listen to advice and think they can get away with making their neighbours’ lives a misery.”

To report incidents of anti-social behaviour contact Safer Leeds on 0113 222 4402. Council tenants should contact the following numbers in the first instance: West North West Homes, 0800 915 1113: Aire Valley Homes, 0800 915 6660; East North East Homes, 0800 915 1600; Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation, 0113 214 1833. In an emergency, always call 999.


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

Proposals to make Woodlesford and Yeadon conservation areas

People are being asked for their views on plans to make a new conservation area at Woodlesford and extend the existing conservation area at Yeadon – what they think about the places and how they could be improved.

The proposals, published by Leeds City Council, will help protect the special architectural and historical character of the places from inappropriate demolition and development.

Buildings within a conservation area are protected from unauthorised demolition and new developments have to meet higher standards of design than elsewhere. Other planning rules are slightly different and permission from the council is needed for certain activities such as tree felling.

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

“Woodlesford and Yeadon are places of special architectural and historic character. Though in very different parts of the city, they have both maintained an important sense of place and distinctiveness despite the significant changes of the 20th and 21st century. Conservation area protection will help safeguard their special character and protect important buildings from demolition.

“Awarding an area conservation status is an important step and the opinions of local people are a valued part of this process. We encourage people to attend the public consultation events.”

Public consultations for both conservation area proposals for Woodlesford and Yeadon will begin next Monday 14 February until Friday 11 March February. These will include locally held exhibitions and public meetings and drop-in sessions.

These will be held at:

Monday 14 February – Friday 11 March: at All Saints Parish Hall, a public exhibition. Paper copies of the appraisal can be viewed at All Saints Parish Hall and Rothwell Library for public viewing.
Monday 28th February 2011, 7pm, All Saints Parish Hall: public meeting and drop-in session

Monday 14 February – Friday 11 March: exhibition at Yeadon Library. Paper copies will be held at the library and Town Hall for public viewing.
Thursday 3rd March 2011 at the Liberal Club, High Street, Yeadon, 7pm. A public meeting and drop-in session.

The draft appraisal documents are both available on-line at:
People are encouraged to have their say on the proposals. Response forms are available at the exhibitions, the public meetings and online. Comments can be emailed to or sent by post to the Sustainable Development Unit, Leeds City Council, Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds, LS2 8HD.
Notes to Editors:

The existing conservation area covering Yeadon town centre was designated in 1973. Following a review of this boundary it is proposed to expand the conservation area to make sure it covers all of the town’s special architectural and historic interest.
The areas proposed to be brought into Yeadon Conservation Area include areas to the west of the town centre including New Scarborough and Nunroyd Park, historic terraces and the group of surviving mills off Kirk Lane. To the east the proposals including bringing Yeadon Tarn into the conservation area along with Yeadon cemetery, terraces off Cemetery Road, High Street and the Football and South View Terrace area. Smaller areas of extension are also proposed to the north of the town centre to include the Church of St Andrew’s and to the south to include a historic terrace and group of buildings on Harper Lane.
The Yeadon appraisal was funded by Leeds City Council’s Outer North West Area Committee, with the support of the ward councillors, from their ‘Well Being Fund’.
Under the plans a new conservation area for Woodlesford will take in the historic village centre along Church Street focused on the church and the village green, the terraces of ‘New Woodlesford’ to the south in the Aberford Road and Midland Street area, and the early 20th century development along Oulton Lane.
Woodlesford has a long and interesting history that continues to shape the settlement today. It originally developed at an important crossing point of the River Aire and was initially a rural agricultural village. During the 19th century the character of the village changed dramatically with the industrialisation of the area; quarries, mines, a brewery, mills and potteries all operated from the settlement served by the railway, canal and good road links of the area.
The Woodlesford appraisal was funded by Leeds City Council’s Outer South Area Committee, with the support of the ward councillors, from their ‘Well Being Fund’.

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