Thursday, 17 March 2011

Beware – council tax cold calling scam

The council have been informed that a company is contacting Leeds residents telling them they could receive a refund of their council tax of up to £7,000. In order to process this fund, residents are being asked for their bank details.

Should anyone receive this call, we would ask that you ignore the call, and hang up your phone immediately as it is a scam and nothing to do with Leeds City Council. Do not in any case give your bank details out over the phone.

The call asks people to call and speak to a Mark Jackson on 0207 100 1376 – this is nothing to do with the council.

If you would like any more information on your council tax, please contact our council tax department on 0113 222 4404.

West Yorkshire Police works in partnership with Consumer Direct and the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service to investigate cases of this kind.

If you believe you have been subject to a similar call you can contact Consumer Direct by the local rate telephone number 0845 4040506 or via the internet at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.

Remember:

- If you receive an unsolicited phone call, letter or email, beware. If you have any doubts hang up or put the correspondence in the bin.

- Never send any money in advance unless you are prepared to lose it.

- Do not give out personal financial information, such as bank account details to people and organisations you do not know.

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Council awards contract for social housing repairs

Leeds City Council has awarded a new long term contract to Morrison to provide repairs and maintenance services to 37,000 properties across the city.

Morrison will deliver a programme of improvement and refurbishment work and responsive repairs and maintenance services in conjunction with Aire Valley Homes and West North West Homes Leeds, which manage the housing stock on behalf of Leeds City Council..

The award of the contracts follows a detailed procurement exercise in which initially nine contractors were short-listed. It is envisaged that the award of the contracts will save the city in the region of £4 million per year, alongside other benefits which include; strong customer focus and involvement, an ability to demonstrate value for money and cost effective delivery, strong performance standards which are easily understood and the ability to deliver a service which is strong on community involvement.

The £35 million per annum partnership with Morrison, will commence on the 1 April 2011 and is for up to ten years based on the contractors performance.

Morrison’s bid demonstrated the company’s strong focus on customer service and innovation. The council were particularly impressed by Morrison’s commitment to social responsibility, including community engagement, sustainable procurement and training and employment.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods and housing said:

“It is important that we were able to partner with a company that is interested in local employment and training and offers value for money with good customer service. Morrison went above and beyond to supply with us ideas other than just a repairs service and I look forward to working with them.

“Central to this commitment is the new training academy, which will offer employment and training opportunities to local people. One of the big focuses of the academy will be the development of young local people, including training 18 apprentices and 20 second chance apprentices every year.

“We are keen to ensure that any contract we enter into achieves value for money and excellent customer service and delivery for our tenants.”

Guy Wakeley, Chief Executive of Morrison, said:

“Leeds City Council had a strong vision in mind for their new repairs and maintenance partner; they wanted an organisation which would not only provide a high quality and innovative service, but was also a sustainable and responsible business. This vision is very much aligned with our own approach and has meant we have been able to truly understand the needs of the council and its residents.

“We have aspired to work in Leeds for some time, and are delighted to have been selected as their provider of choice for both the Aire Valley Homes and West North West Homes and look forward to commencing operations in April.

“We are completely committed to growing the Morison business in Yorkshire and securing this new partnership with Leeds will create many new job opportunities for local people and businesses”

Notes to editors:

West North West Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. They are wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
West North West Homes Leeds covers the areas of Otley, Pool, Bramhope, Guiseley, Yeadon, Cookridge, Rawdon, Holt Park. Tinshill, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Burley, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Woodhouse, Wortley, Farnley, and New Farnley.

Aire Valley Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. They are wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
Aire Valley Homes Leeds covers the areas of Barwick-in-Elmet, Swarcliffe, Garforth, Micklefield, Kippax, Swillington, Allerton Bywater, Methley, Rothwell, Middleton, Morley, Drighlington, Cottingley, Beeston, and Holbeck.

Morrison is a leading provider of repairs, maintenance and capital projects for local authorities, housing associations, arms length management organisations (ALMOs) and private companies. Morrison looks after over 500,000 homes and 4,000 public buildings nationwide on behalf of its clients, employing over 3,000 people in 32 locations. www.morrisonplc.com


Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Conference to address Leeds alcohol challenge

**Issued on behalf of NHS Leeds**

A recently published report shows that alcohol related harm costs the Leeds economy £438 million every year. With this startling figure in mind the Leeds Alcohol Challenge Conference on Monday 21 March will see what local organisations can do to reduce the cost of alcohol related harm in the city.

The conference, organised by NHS Leeds and Leeds City Council through the Leeds Initiative, will bring a range of partners together to look at what can be done in the city to promote a safe drinking culture. The conference will build on the findings of a recent report which revealed the costs of alcohol related harm to the Leeds economy.

The conference will build on the findings of ‘The economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm in Leeds 2008-09’ report . This highlights the contribution alcohol makes to the economic development of Leeds. In 2008 11,000 jobs were created relating to the sale of alcohol (3% of all jobs in Leeds). The report recognises there is also a wider contribution from the night time economy and tourism and its links to alcohol.

However the report also shows the hidden costs of alcohol misuse to public services such as accident and emergency units, hospital services, police and the fire service. The impact is also felt by local business through lost productivity and unemployment triggered by alcohol misuse.

This means that every adult living in Leeds pays £730 a year to deal with the unwanted consequences of alcohol misuse

Councillor Mark Dobson, Chair of the Healthy Leeds Partnership, says:
"Organisations working in Leeds, including business and industry, must take the lead in making the reduction of harm caused by alcohol a priority - and we all have a responsibility and a part to play in promoting a sensible drinking culture that reduces violence and disorder, and improves health and wellbeing."

Dr Ian Cameron, Director of Public Health for Leeds, adds:
“The Leeds Alcohol Challenge Conference will give us an opportunity to have an open and frank debate featuring a wide range of organisations that have an interest in ensuring that we encourage responsible drinking in the city. The conference gives local business leaders a chance to see what role they can play in addressing the challenge we are faced with. I look forward to seeing some positive outcomes.”

Lee Le Clercq, Regional Secretary for the British Beer and Pub Association comments:
“The pub and club sector in Leeds, enjoyed safely and sensibly by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors every year, directly employs around 15,000 people and contributes more than £270 million annually to the city’s economy. However, when alcohol is misused the potential dangers to individual health and family stability and, on our streets, the impact on crime and disorder rightly concern us all. The British Beer and Pub Association is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this challenge and to the city’s future alcohol strategy."

The conference will also give delegates a chance to discuss the next phase of the Leeds Alcohol Strategy from 2011.

The Leeds Alcohol Challenge Conference is taking place on Monday 21 March from 1pm to 3pm in the Thoresby Room at Leeds City Museum.


ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the Communications Team at NHS Leeds on 0113 3057505 or 3057496; or Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, on 0113 3951577.


Notes to editor:

A copy of the ‘The economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm in Leeds 2008-09’ report is available from the Communications Team at NHS Leeds on 0113 30 57505 or 0113 30 57496.

Examples of cost to Leeds economy
The estimated cost of £438 million in 2008-2009 is broken down in a number of key areas.
• Lost productivity costs approximately £117 million. Almost half of these costs were due to ‘presenteeism’ and absenteeism. Presenteeism, which is alcohol-related reduced productivity, costs Leeds £26 million with over 210,000 days lost to hangovers in Leeds during this time. Absenteeism (sickness absence) due to alcohol misuse was estimated to cost around £36 million. Other costs include unemployment due to alcohol dependency and premature mortality, with lost output through the death of working age adults estimated to cost £29 million.
• Expenditure on alcohol-specific and alcohol-related offences was an estimated £124 million. Over £8 million was spent on the anticipation of crime, £96 million on the consequences of crime, including the physical and emotional impact on victims of crime, and just under £20 million in criminal justice system costs.
• The cost on alcohol services is over £25 million costs, including £13 million for inpatient hospital stays, £2 million for day hospital cases, £5 million for outpatient attendances, £700,000 for A&E attendances and over £4 million for ambulance journeys.
• An estimated £1 million was spent on West Yorkshire fire and rescue service attending alcohol-related incidents in the Leeds area, including approximately £900,000 attending alcohol-related house fires.

Calculating the estimated cost
The overall aim of the study was to identify and measure the economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm in Leeds using cost-of-illness (COI) methodology. The following objectives were addressed in order to meet this aim:
• a review of the existing literature and approaches used in other COI studies, particularly those related to alcohol misuse;
• identification of new research studies and data that enabled more robust estimates of the economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm to be derived; and
• calculation of the economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm in Leeds.

Estimating the economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm involved identifying cost-generating components; and attributing a monetary value to them. Costs included in the study were direct costs to health and social care services and the criminal justice system, and indirect costs in the form of production losses. The wider economic and social costs of alcohol-related harm were also considered including intangible or ‘human’ costs. Intangible costs are more difficult to measure than other types of costs, and consequently this study focused on the costs arising from alcohol-related premature mortality.

People with disabilities deserve better than bog standard

People with profound disabilities will soon be able to access a network of specialist toilets across the city, offering them extra dignity and comfort.

Changing Places toilets will soon be appearing at shopping centres, leisure complexes, attractions, community buildings and many other public places across the city, to help disabled children and adults make the most of their visit to Leeds.

Media opportunity
Where: New Changing Places facility at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
When: Thursday 17 March 2010 at 4.30pm
What: Cllr Lucinda Yeadon and Nicky Taylor from the West Yorkshire Playhouse will meet with a Leeds family who’ll benefit from the new Changing Places facilities across the city. Interview and photography opportunities will be available.

A Changing Places toilet has sufficient space to easily accommodate two carers, and is fitted with specialist equipment including a hoist, a height adjustable changing bench – suitable for adults and children, and sometimes even a shower. They have been developed through Leeds City Council’s adult social care and children’s services Aiming High for Disabled Children funding.

Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for adult social care, said:
“I’m delighted that we are making progress with these facilities as they are key to opening up our great city to people with profound disabilities.

“They can make a tremendous difference to the lives of disabled people and their carers, by allowing them to visit locations across the city, knowing that suitable toilet facilities will be available.

“Standard disabled toilets are often not big enough for two carers to assist and do not have the right equipment to allow people with profound disabilities to be changed with dignity and hygienically – normal disabled toilets often mean having to be changed on the floor.

“By putting these specialist toilets in public buildings and venues across the city, we hope people with profound disabilities and their carers will be able to fully participate in what Leeds has to offer without the worry there won’t be suitable facilities.”

Families can find out if there are Changing Places toilets in a location they wish to visit nationally by looking at the website changing-places.org or by contacting 020 7696 6019.

The locations for the Changing Places toilets in Leeds were decided upon after consulting with parents and carers of children and adults with disabilities.

Changing Places facilities are popping up everywhere in Leeds. They are are at the White House Café at Chevin Forest Park; Armley leisure centre; Morley leisure centre; John Charles Centre for Sport; Tech North; Headingley HEART; Hillside Community Centre and most recently at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

More of these specialist toilets are being developed at: The Terrace Bar at the City Library, Lotherton Hall and near the new accessible play area currently being built at Temple Newsam.

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

New generation of council housing for the over 55s

A number of new council houses for the over 55s are to be completed this spring in west Leeds.

Leeds City Council is working in partnership with developer Keepmoat Homes, West North West Homes and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) – which is part funding the venture to deliver 25 two-bed council properties for the over 55s across three sites in west Leeds, including Evelyn Place, Silver Royd Hill and the former Waterloo Road Primary School.

In November 2010 Keepmoat Homes began construction works across all three sites.

The properties on Evelyn Place are at the most advanced stage with the first homes expected to be ready for handover in early April. The units will be handed over in several phases during April and May.

The Silver Royd Hill properties will be handed over in the summer and the new council homes on the Waterloo Road site are expected for completion between summer and early autumn.

Each property features two bedrooms, full gas central heating and an enclosed rear garden with a shed. There is off street parking, and plenty of energy saving features including solar panels and low energy lighting to ensure that the environmental impact of the development and residents running costs are kept to a minimum.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods and housing said:

“It is great to see a number of new council houses going up in Leeds for the over 55s. As a council we are committed to providing homes as and where we can, and these new build properties are a good example of this. A local lettings policy will be put in place that will ensure these homes go people over 55 who have a local connection and are currently under-occupying a family home. This will free up valuable family housing in the area and help more people move into a suitable home.”

Cathy Clelland, Chair of the West North West homes Leeds board said:

“It is fantastic to be a part of providing quality new homes during these difficult economic times. All of the partners involved in this development have worked hard to deliver these homes and to be this close to completing the project is a great achievement. West North West homes Leeds welcomes the opportunity to manage these new properties and we will maintain the commitment to delivering excellence which has been present in every step of this development.”


Richard Panter, area manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said:“This is great news for local residents. The completion of these first units as part of an eleven home scheme will provide much needed housing for older people. By building these homes in west Leeds we can ensure that people can remain close to their families once they retire, in homes that can adapt to their changing needs.”

David Ward, Managing Director of Keepmoat Homes Yorkshire, said:
“We at Keepmoat Homes are delighted to have played a part in reaching this important milestone. This is a significant housing development for Keepmoat Homes and demonstrates our belief in the city and pride in our work. The partnership has worked hard to get here so it’s very rewarding to start seeing the fruits of our labour and with a number of homes still to be delivered long may it continue.”

A local letting policy has been devised for the new properties on Evelyn Place where priority will be awarded to people who are over 55 and whom are under occupying a family home in the locality in order to free up larger family homes.

The properties will be advertised in the Leeds Homes Magazine between 16th – 22nd March.

Notes to editors

West North West Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. They are wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
West North West Homes Leeds covers the areas of Otley, Pool, Bramhope, Guiseley, Yeadon, Cookridge, Rawdon, Holt Park. Tinshill, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Burley, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Woodhouse, Wortley, Farnley, and New Farnley.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England.

Our vision is to create opportunity for people to live in homes they can afford in places they want to live, by enabling local authorities and communities to deliver the ambition they have for their own areas.

We achieve this by:

• Understanding the needs and aspirations of people and communities through close working with local authorities on local investment planning
• Enabling local delivery through the channelling of our expertise and investment
• Working effectively with the market, housebuilders, investors and other stakeholders

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Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk