Thursday, 10 March 2011

Inventor Sharon to explain how to survive the Dragons’ Den

An award-winning Yorkshire businesswoman who starred on television’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ will be giving a free talk at Leeds Central Library next week.

Inventor Sharon Wright wowed the panel on the hit BBC programme in 2009 with her ingenious electrical cable device ‘Magnamole’ which led to all five ‘dragons’ competing with each other for the chance to invest in the business.

After agreeing an investment the deal quickly turned sour, however, over contractual differences and Sharon will be talking at Leeds Central Library at 6pm on Wednesday 16 March about the experience which led to her book “Mother of Invention: How I Won Dragons’ Den, Lost My Mind, Nearly Lost My Business and Ended Up Reinventing Myself”.

The talk has been organised by Leeds City Council’s business and patent information services, which provide information on starting a business and protecting intellectual property such as patents, designs, trademarks and copyright.

Aside from her talk about her experiences as a single mother and entrepreneur on how to run a business and launch new products, Sharon will also be conducting a book signing at the event.

Referring to the book, Sharon Wright said:

“My intention of writing this book has been to help others who might find themselves in the same situation as myself and ensure that nobody else has to experience the same painful journey that I did.”

Business and patents information services manager Stef Stephenson said:

"We're delighted that Sharon is so keen to come and give her talk. Her story is an amazing rollercoaster and her sheer determination to succeed is bound to inspire others involved in the challenges of running a business or developing new products."

The event is open to all with admission free at Leeds Central Library from 6-7:45pm on Wednesday 16 March.

For further information on Leeds City Council’s business & patent information services call 0113 2478266 or email


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

Explore the hidden Leeds Town Hall

Visitors to Leeds Town Hall will be able to unlock some of the secrets of the most famous building in the city by viewing a new exhibition which starts this week.

Running from Friday 11 March, the exhibition is based around three different strands of artworks which examine the Cuthbert Brodrick-designed building and how people relate to its history. Since first opening in 1858, Leeds Town Hall has enjoyed a rich and varied history including being home to a police station with its Victorian cells, a working courtroom and during the war being used as an air-raid shelter.

Now it is used for weddings, music concerts, comedy shows and even for registering births, and the exhibition is designed to celebrate this history as well as opening up more of the less well-known parts of the building to the public.

The first part of the exhibition is the Postcard Project. Postcards have been distributed round the city for people to fill in with their stories and memories of the Town Hall and post back. A few of the stories received so far include; dancing on the stage, getting married, being on the jury for a murder trial, attending Light Night and graduation ceremonies.

A local artist and creative writer have been holding workshops with community groups to produce detailed postcards using a range of creative writing and visual art techniques.

Postcards have been completed by people ranging from age five to 70. Some of the completed cards can be seen on the project’s flickr site:

'Prepare to Cheer' by Amelia Crouch is the second strand of the exhibition and is an artwork relating to different functions of the Town Hall. Presented as a series of six brass plaques, the artwork refers to both past and present, symbolic and functional uses of the Town Hall.

The third strand of the exhibition will be a series of photographs taken by David Lindsay who spent a day at the Town Hall exploring and creating images of the spaces that the public don’t have access to, to try and tell a story of the history and character of the building.

Leeds City Council arts and venues manager Matthew Sims said:

“This is an excellent opportunity for people in Leeds to celebrate the rich history of Leeds Town Hall and to be part of an exhibition in one of Leeds’ iconic buildings. We are pleased to also be able to showcase work by Leeds artists David Lindsay and Amelia Crouch.”

The exhibition project is coordinated by Leeds City Council’s arts & regeneration unit and can be seen during normal Leeds Town Hall opening hours until Saturday 11 June.

For media enquiries please contact
Arts & regeneration, Leeds City Council, on 0113 2476419

Young Leeds film fans gearing up for a treat

Caption: A visit by comedy star Charlie Higson (top) and a preview screening of 'Rio 3D' will be two of the highlights of the festival (Charlie Higson photo courtesy of Andy Paradise)

The latest blockbuster from the makers of ‘Ice Age’ and visits by television star Charlie Higson and the man who designed ‘Bob the Builder’ are just some of the highlights of this year’s Leeds Young People’s Film Festival.

Details of the annual event which takes place from Monday 28 March to Friday 8 April have been announced, with advance tickets now on sale.

Now in its 12th year, the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival organised by Leeds City Council and the award-winning group of young film enthusiasts MediaFish features a range of screenings, special guests and workshops based at Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Film Academy in Leeds Town Hall.

An early highlight comes on Wednesday 30 March, when Vue in The Light shows a special preview screening of ‘Rio 3D’, the latest animated offering from Blue Sky Studios who produced the ‘Ice Age’ series. Featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, the comedy-adventure tells the story of a macaw named Blu, who leaves Minnesota behind for the wonders of Rio only to find the fact he cannot fly proves a major problem.

Big-name visits are to the fore this year, with ‘Fast Show’ creator and star Charlie Higson making an appearance on Wednesday 6 April to talk about his love of all things horror and his zombie-thriller series ‘The Enemy’ as well as performing a book signing.

His visit follows on from actress Rachel Hurd-Wood (Perfume, Dorian Gray, Solomon Kane) who will be introducing a special preview of her new film ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’, a dramatic story based on the best-selling books which will be shown on Tuesday 5 April at Hyde Park Picture House.

Two other star names will be in attendance on Friday 8 April, as children’s animator, author and illustrator Curtis Jobling (the man who designed Bob the Builder and Frankenstein’s Cat) will be at Leeds Central Library giving a talk about his work. This is followed at Hyde Park Picture House later that day by bestselling author Eoin Colfer, who this year is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Artemis Fowl series.

Following the success of the first ‘Harry Potter’ day last year, the day devoted to all things Hogwarts is repeated this year at Hyde Park Picture House on Sunday 3 April. Fans are encouraged to attend in their best wizardly outfits to enjoy screenings of the latest three films in the series which will whet the appetite for the final instalment ‘The Deathly Hallows part two’ which hits the cinemas in July.

The prestigious National Young Filmmakers’ Award showcases the best young talent in the country on Monday 4 April, while the festival also features a wide range of workshop sessions covering all aspects of the film industry as well as a new strand for 2011 which sees two events devoted to gaming held at Leeds Town Hall.

Director of Leeds Young People’s Film Festival Debbie Maturi

“We’re really excited by this year’s line-up which promises to bring some real cinematic treats here to Leeds. At such good value, we hope that more young people and their families will get involved than ever before.”

Full details of the festival programme can be seen at and advance tickets are now available by calling the City Centre Box Office on 0113 224 3801.

The 12th Leeds Young People’s Film Festival Festival is supported by Screen Yorkshire, Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds City College, Education Leeds and artforms.


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

Leeds homes hit energy efficiency target a year early

Efforts to help homes in Leeds become more energy-efficient have achieved savings in power use of over 30% a year ahead of target.

Leeds as a city was tasked with finding ways to encourage households to reduce their energy use by 30% during a 15-year campaign, due to end at the end of this year.

However, Leeds City Council’s executive board was told that the target had been achieved and surpassed in the past year as they received the 2010 Energy Report.

Targets for individual areas across the whole country were set in the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA). With a year to go, savings over the first 14 years in Leeds have added up to 30.5% in total, including a 3.5% saving in the past year.

This has been achieved in a combination of ways including practical solutions such as the installation of insulation in homes and by educating people in energy efficiency with advice sessions and home visits.

Councillor Tom Murray, executive member for environmental services, Leeds City Council, said:
“We have worked very hard with many other organisations in the city to help people reduce their use of energy. This is excellent news and I would like to thanks everyone whose efforts have helped towards hitting the target.

“However, we do not intend to sit on our laurels, as we and our partners will continue to strive to make the city increasingly efficient in its energy use.”

Highlights referred to in the 2010 report include:
• 9,674 cavity wall insulation and 5,815 loft insulation grants awarded under the Carbon Emissions Reductions Target;
• Groundwork made 260 home visits, resulting in 445 cost-saving installations such as insulation and held 48 information sessions;
• Investment from arm’s length housing organisations, registered social and private landlords and owner-occupiers all contributed to the total saving in energy use;
• Warm Front received 4,938 referrals and Health through Warmth took on 360 referrals.

Notes to editors a full copy of the report can be viewed on the Leeds City Council website here 2010 Energy Report
Leeds is considered to be the most sustainable city in Yorkshire, according to the annual Sustainable Cities Index released towards the end of last year. It placed Leeds sixth in the country and leading environmental charity Forum for the Future, which publishes it, confirmed Leeds is the top Yorkshire city. The index puts cities under the microscope in 13 categories, covering everything from air quality, employment, climate change, waste and recycling to health and education.

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


Audit Commission praises Leeds’ cut in domestic burglaries

Domestic burglary rates in Leeds have decreased by over 1,100 in the last 12 months according to figures published by the Audit Commission

The commission is publishing its latest inspection report on its website following a recent inspection looking at how the Safer Leeds Partnership is tackling domestic burglary across Leeds.

The previous report in 2009/10, completed as part of the Comprehensive Area Assessment, awarded Leeds a ‘red flag’ area for performance on burglary as it had one of the highest rates in the country.

The latest report acknowledges the improvements made over the past 12 months and states that the ‘reductions in burglary during 2010 reflect the commitment and effort of partners across Leeds’.

The report also highlights several other areas of good work including: an effective offender management programme; partnership working with private landlords and the universities in improving student safety; and joint working with partners at a neighbourhood level.

The report also states that more needs to be done to co-ordinate a consistent approach to tackling burglary is needed across Leeds.

Councillor Peter Gruen, chair of the Safer Leeds Board, said:
“I’m pleased with the overall positive conclusions of this report. There has been some good work carried out to tackle burglary but I acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve our vision for Leeds to be the safest city in the country.

“Tackling burglary rates remains a key priority for the council and to demonstrate this we made an additional £850,000 of funding available for burglary reduction and community safety in our recent budget.

“We will continue to work with the police and other key partners across the city to address this important issue and ensure that Leeds remains a safe place to live, work and visit.”

The Safer Leeds Partnership is currently finalising plans that will ensure Leeds remains one of the safest cities in the country as part of the new City Priority Plan for 2015.


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