Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Statement regarding protest at full council meeting

Tom Riordan, chief executive, Leeds City Council said:

"It is regrettable that today's meeting of the full council was delayed for 90 minutes by protestors who occupied the council chamber.

"While respecting people's right to voice their opinion, disrupting a public meeting and the democratic process is not the best way to get their point across.

"I'd like to thank our staff and West Yorkshire Police for the professional way in which the demonstration was handled."


Opening celebrations at Garforth children’s centre

Picture caption: The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Cllrs Jim and Andrea McKenna, meet 15 week old Sophie and her mum Bryony Needham at the opening of Garforth children's centre."

Picture caption: "Liz Merriman and 5 month old Benjamin Merriman enjoy the sensory area at Garforth children's centre."

Picture caption: "15 month old Oscar Roberts enjoys playing with mum at Garforth children's centre."

Children, parents and local dignitaries helped Garforth children’s centre celebrate its formal opening last week.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jim McKenna, joined staff, local families and specially invited guests to officially open the centre on Friday 18 February.

Garforth is one of the final centres to open as part of Leeds City Council’s ambition to have a state-of-the-art children’s centre in every area of the city.

The children’s centre, which is delivered by the School Partnership Trust, is based at Garforth Academy and has satellite centres at Micklefield Primary School and Firthfields Early Years Centre. It has been up and running since May last year and already has reached half of the 800 children in the area.

The centre already provides health and support services to families across the Garforth area, including a baby clinic with health visitors, mid-wife drop-in sessions, a baby café breastfeeding support group and special groups for grandparents and childminders.

There is also a sensory room at the centre which can be booked out by parents and groups, baby massage classes, a dancing and movement class for toddlers, and story-time sessions.

A healthy lifestyle course to help parents improve their own and their children’s eating habits is also on offer along with one to one support at the centre and employment advice with Job Centre Plus.

Cllr Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“Children’s centres are at the centre of what we are trying to achieve in Leeds. They provide an opportunity for families to access the vital services to help them develop and succeed.

“The new Garforth children’s centre along with its satellite centres in Micklefield and Firthfields is already proving to be a vital life-line for local families. They are a hub for the local community and help parents provide the very best start in life for their children.”

Liz Merriman, mum to five month old Benjamin, is a big advocate of the Garforth children’s centre, she said:
“We regularly attend the different sessions at the centre. We’ve recently finished baby massage, and come to story-time every week. I first brought Benjamin to story-time when he was five weeks old, he slept through it! But it was great just being with other mums.

“It’s particularly helpful that the health visitors are here as well, so he can get weighed here and we can go along to the groups.

“I’m very impressed with the facilities, everything is new and it’s all free – I often recommend it to other mums.”

The centre also provides outreach services to the community and is part of the School Partnership Trust so has close links with all schools and academies in the area. These schools include:
Aberford C of E primary school
East Garforth primary school
Garforth Academy
Green Lane primary academy
Micklefield C of E primary school
Ninelands primary school
St Benedict's RC primary school
Strawberry Fields primary school

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

Carriageworks line-up game for a laugh

Caption: Jenny Eclair will be performing at The Carriageworks next week

The Carriageworks theatre will be echoing to sound of laughter in the coming days and weeks as it plays host to its strongest-ever comedy line-up.

Building on previous visits by the likes of Eddie Izzard, Simon Amstell and Tommy Tiernan, the Millennium Square venue will feature performances by more big-name comedians as Russell Kane (Saturday 26 February), Tim Key (Tuesday 1 March) and Jenny Éclair (Saturday 5 Mar) will all be taking to the stage.

Russell Kane (Saturday 26 Feb) had a busy 2010, picking up the top prize at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and co-hosting ITV2’s ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here NOW!’ His new show explores self, family and the consequences of his dad buying his own council house. Sociological silliness and high-energy contortions are guaranteed.

Tim Key (Tuesday 1 Mar) is also an Edinburgh Comedy Awards winner, having picked up the prize in 2009. Lately he has found fame with appearances on Charlie Brooker’s ‘Newswipe’ and as the host of BBC4’s ‘We Need Answers’ with Mark Watson and Alex Horne.

Jenny Éclair (Saturday 5 Mar) amused the nation in the ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’ jungle at the end of last year, and is now back on the road for an extensive tour of the UK that’s sure to be a big seller. Her show ‘Old Dogs New Tricks’ sees the self-styled “Grumpy Old Woman” reflect on turning 50 in typically hilarious style.

Other comedy highlights at the city centre venue include Shazia Mirza (Saturday 2 April), with a brand new show from the international award-winning stand-up and Guardian Weekend Magazine columnist. This is followed by the latest from Toby Hadoke (Wednesday 6 April). His delightful new show, ‘Now I Know my BBC’, is a heartfelt love letter to Auntie Beeb, by the Dawson Award-winning creator of ‘Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf’.

General manager at The Carriageworks Martin McInulty said:

"The Carriageworks has seen visits from some big-name comedians in the past few years, but this season really looks like it’s going to be the best yet. We can guarantee some great nights out with plenty of laughs. My advice is to grab tickets before they sell out!”

For further information about The Carriageworks visit the website at

Notes to editors:

1. Press interviews available on request. Tickets available from the Box Office on 0113 2243801 or online at
2. The Carriageworks is a thriving theatre at the heart of Leeds’ Millennium Square. It is a forward-thinking venue that aims to nurture theatre makers and grow the audience for live performance in Leeds and Yorkshire.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leeds City Council, Leisure media relations Officer,
Tel: 0113 247 5472, Email:

Neighbourhood networks given dragons’ seal of approval

Adult social care officers from Leeds took part in a Dragons’ Den style event in London last month to showcase the city’s successful neighbourhood networks schemes, and the way they are extending their services to meet the changing needs of older people.

Representatives from the public and voluntary sectors from across the UK were invited to present examples of schemes that are helping to build community capacity in social care in their areas, and demonstrate what the benefits would be if these were rolled out nationally.

Just eight organisations/partnerships from around the country were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of ‘dragons’ consisting of some of the country’s most prominent social care experts. The event was chaired by David Brindle of The Guardian newspaper.

Leeds City Council’s pitch was on the 37 neighbourhood networks that have been established in the city over the past 16 years. These networks engage local volunteers to help older people to continue to live full, active lives in their communities. In fact, last year the networks had 5,948 volunteers helping 17,174 older people by delivering a broad range of services including information, benefits advice, dementia cafés, walking groups, befriending, luncheon clubs and social activities.

Dennis Holmes, deputy director and Mick Ward, head of commissioning from the council’s adult social care services gave a strong presentation to the dragons, explaining how neighbourhood networks are a key factor in changing the view that older people are merely passive recipients of services to one of them being a positive force in their local communities.

In the main the organisations are run and staffed by older people working on a voluntary basis, which allows their wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to be harnessed to meet the needs of their peers and local communities.

The dragons were especially impressed to hear about the work of a group of neighbourhood networks who are working to develop new services that will help to prevent older people going into hospital unnecessarily, and supporting them by providing a greater range of activities using new funding available through direct payments.

Sandie Keene, director, adult social care in Leeds said:
“We were delighted to be invited to take part in this event, which gave us the chance to share with a much wider audience what has been achieved in Leeds through the neighbourhood networks scheme.

“The networks have already received national acclaim for their work in supporting older people and helping them to stay living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, and were also praised in the Audit Commission's 'Under Pressure' report, last year.

“The feedback from the ‘dragons’ was very positive, with their verdict being that they ‘loved the depth of the project’.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care said:
“Neighbourhood networks play a prominent role in the lives of many older people in Leeds. Over the past 16 years they have gained both local and national recognition for the positive contribution they make to the lives of some of our most vulnerable people.

“I am delighted that neighbourhood networks have been recognised in this way, and hope that their benefits can be adopted in other areas across the country.”

Leeds’ neighbourhood networks have gained national acclaim for their work in supporting older people and helping them to stay in their own homes, living independently for as long as possible. They organise a range of activities like help with gardening, DIY, shopping, exercise classes, luncheon clubs, and housing and money advice. They are voluntary support organisations, mostly charities, and are mainly run by volunteers.

The council provided funding to help with the initial set up of the networks in 1993 and, along with NHS partners, have continued to fund them on an annual basis ever since. The schemes accept referrals from adult social care and health services, and can be accessed by any older person.

Leeds City Council and its NHS partners have pledged to continue to invest in these networks and the older people they help.

Additional info

The ‘dragons’ were:
David Brindle, The Guardian
Richard Jones, ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services)
Jo Cleary, Adults’ and Community services, London Borough of Lambeth
Julie Jones, Social Care Institute for Excellence
Sally Percival, National Transforming Adult Social Care Co-production Group
Matthew Pike, social entrepreneur/social investor
Cllr David Rogers, Chair of LGA Community Wellbeing Board
Dr Robert Varnum, GP and clinical lead for the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Practice Accreditation scheme.

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

Masterplan for city centre development site

Leeds City Council is seeking people's views on a draft masterplan for the redevelopment of a prestigious development site.

The former Queens Hall site on Sovereign Street is a high profile development opportunity in the heart of Leeds, close to the railway station and the waterfront. It is a prime area for regeneration and a key part of the council’s plans to deliver a new city centre park.

Now the council wants people’s views on a draft planning statement which sets out their aspirations for the area and will help guide all future development on the site.

Redevelopment of the site could potentially open up two railway arches which will connect through to the vibrant Dark Arches and Granary Wharf area of the centre. In turn, they will open up linkages to the prime shopping and office quarters of the city and southwards to the riverside and a new proposed city centre park on the south bank of the River Aire.

People have until the 18th March 2011 to comment on the proposals. A final version of the Sovereign Street Planning Statement will then be produced and adopted later this year to be used as planning guidance for all future development at that site.

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

“Sovereign Street is a very exciting part of our vision for the city centre; a prime spot for regeneration with huge potential to attract jobs and investment to that part of the centre.

“We’ve published this draft document to give as many people as possible the opportunity to tell us what they think about the plans for this area and to open up a debate about how we can deliver the new city centre park.”

Sovereign Street has been a temporary council-owned car park since the Queens Hall was demolished in the 1980s. It is close to the vibrant waterfront area and the train station. Development of the site is a key part of the council’s plans to deliver new green space for the city centre.

The full planning statement is available from the council's development enquiry centre at the following address: Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds LS2 8HD.Alternatively people can contact tel: 0113 2224409 and request a copy, or email

The document is also available on the council’s website at by searching for "Sovereign Street" or use the following link:

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