Friday, 18 March 2011

Leeds writers see work carved into stone on city’s oldest street

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Two Leeds writers have seen their work set in stone on the city's oldest street, Kirkgate.

As part of an art project funded by Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Forward, local writers Antony Dunn and Peter Spafford have created poems about Kirkgate’s thousand year old history which have been carved into stone on the street’s paving and a pair of beautiful granite seats.

The project completes the revamp of this key pedestrian area in Leeds city centre, which has included new paving, trees, and seating. The special written text on Kirkgate highlights the street’s long history and importance to the city. The street is a key gateway from the city’s bus station and markets area.

Media opportunity:

What: Cllr Harper and the two writers Antony Dunn and Peter Spafford with the new paving and granite seats with poems carved into the stone.
Date/time: Monday 21 March, 10.30am, meet outside Debenhams on the junction of Kirkgate and Briggate.

Councillor Gerry Harper, Chair of the Leeds City Centre Partnership Board, said:
"The refurbishment of Kirkgate shows our commitment to provide an attractive city centre to attract visitors, shoppers and business investment – all of which will help boost the city’s economy.
“I'm delighted that with the financial support of Yorkshire Forward, we've been able to crown this project with thoughtful and evocative pieces of writing, which I hope people will discover and enjoy for years to come"

Kirkgate has a history dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086. Over the years it has been home to a prison, a museum and, up until the 19th century, was a fashionable residential district for Leeds’ wealthy merchants.

Prize-winning writer Antony Dunn, of Halton, said:

"I hope that my little poem says something about our communal life in Leeds. Its residents, its traders, the tourists who visit for a short time, have all contributed to the history of this street and the wider city. In our own tiny ways, we all contribute to our shared history and identity, through our everyday activities. Most of our contributions are almost invisible, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, but they all count. I wanted to mark, in this almost-permanent way, those contributions. And it’s a privilege to leave my own mark like this in my own city"

Headingley-based Peter Spafford, formerly the Royal Armouries' Writer in Residence, said:
"Kirkgate was once the main artery between the heart of old Leeds - the Parish Church - and its main market, Briggate. The poems do not refer to particular events in the history of Kirkgate but seek to evoke the antiquity of the street; the impermanence, but persistence, of human traffic over the centuries"

The pieces were engraved on to the paving and on to two granite seats by local masons Mastercraft Memorials. The refurbishment of Kirkgate is another step towards the ongoing revamp of Leeds city centre. The other streets and green spaces to be renovated include: Bond Street, Briggate, King Edward Street, Merrion Street Gardens, Park Square, Chancellor Court , Assembly Street, Albion Street, Albion Place and Lands Lane.

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

National Climate Week to showcase schools’ green credentials

More than 20 schools across Leeds will take part in Climate Week which will highlight the work being carried out across the country to tackle climate change.

The national event, which is being organised in schools across the city by Leeds City Council, will see children and young people learn about how to be green and to reduce their impact on the environment.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
Media are invited to St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Beeston at 10am on Monday 21 March for the Leeds launch of Climate Week. Please call 0113 3951577 or email to confirm attendance.
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As part of Climate Week, which starts on Monday (21 March), schools will take part in a number of activities ranging from recycled fashion shows to ‘power down’ days which will drastically reduce their energy usage. There will be dedicated assemblies looking at climate change which will see more than 6,000 children and young people gain an understanding of the issue and learn how they can help reduce their global footprint.

A DVD showing the experiences of a number of schools across West Yorkshire who have taken part in ‘green days’ has been delivered to every school in Leeds to encourage participation, part of which includes a short film to show in assemblies.

Climate Week will be launched at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Beeston at 10am on Monday 21 March. Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services, will meet thirty year 5 pupils who will take part in the Climate Week schools challenge which will be launched on Monday and has to be completed by 2pm the same day.

The school will also be visited by Key’ush, a seven foot polar bear mascot from npower, and children will take part in a range of activities using interactive fitness equipment to engage pupils on the issue of energy conservation. The launch will see the free distribution of a number of energy saving light bulbs to parents.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said:
“Protecting the environment and reducing energy consumption is an increasingly important issue and I am delighted that so many schools in Leeds are taking up this challenge. Climate Week will add to the valuable work being carried out in schools to teach children about how they can help look after the world around them.

“It really is encouraging to see how engaged the children and young people are about combating climate change and they really are our best ambassadors in challenging us all to put this issue at the top of our agendas.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said:
“Our schools can play an important role in reducing the city’s overall impact on the environment by being as green and eco-friendly as possible. They also play a key role in educating children and young people about their responsibilities and what they can do to help look after the world around us.

“Climate Week is a great way of drawing attention to these important matters and to celebrate the work that is already taking place. The Leeds sustainable schools framework ensures our schools are leading the way in adopting a green stance and that our children and young people are learning about the impact their lives can have on the world around them.”

Over 2,000 events have been registered across the UK during Climate Week with more than 100,000 people registered to take part. For more information visit


Notes to editors:

The schools taking part are: Bramley Primary School; Colton Primary School; Cottingley Primary School; Crawshaw High School; Five Lanes Primary School; Hawksworth Wood Primary School; Kippax North Junior & Infants School; Morley Newlands Primary School; Primrose High School; Rawdon Littlemoor Primary; Shire Oak C of E VC Primary School; Southroyd Primary School; St Anthony's Catholic Primary School; St Josephs Catholic Primary Wetherby; St Philip's Catholic Primary & Nursery; Weetwood Primary School; Westerton Primary School; Woodlesford Primary School; Whitecote Primary School; Yeadon Westfield Infants School.

Register soon or lose the chance to vote

Residents across Leeds are being urged to make sure they are registered to vote so they can have their say in the local elections and national referendum on May 5.

More than 20,000 households across the city failed to respond or fill in registration forms during last year’s annual canvass, despite follow-up efforts by electoral registration staff.

This means that they may be unable to vote, along with a further 3,100 people whose names were removed from the electoral register after failing to respond for more than two years.

Voting is taking place this year on May 5 for seats on Leeds City Council, local parish councils and in a referendum on an alternative voting system for UK parliamentary elections.

To have your say on May 5, you must have submitted your application to register as a voter by Thursday April 14.

Alex Meek, Leeds City Council’s electoral services manager, said:
“If your name isn’t on our electoral register, you won’t be able to have your say in issues that could directly affect you.

“We want to make sure that everyone eligible to vote in Leeds is able to do so. If anyone thinks they might not be registered, they should contact our helpline as soon as possible.”

The helpline number is 0113- 222 4411. This is also the number to call for registration forms, which can also be requested by emailing or downloaded from the council’s website here electoral registration

The Electoral Commission plans to deliver public information booklets this year to all UK households about the local elections and referendum in advance of the polls. To find out more or to download a copy of the booklet go to

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


Work starts on new Temple Newsam playground

Issued on behalf of Phys-Cap

Media opportunity
On Thursday 24 March at 12 noon Councillor Judith Blake will be joined at Temple Newsam in Leeds by local schoolchildren and representatives from local charity Phys-Cap to celebrate as work commences for a new play area. (Diggers, hard hats and spades will be available for photographs).

The new play area, Phys-Cap Play Area, will be a fantastic space, creating opportunities for children of all abilities. The play area has been designed by Leeds City Council in association with Phys-Cap Charity.

Phys-Cap has raised the majority of the funding for the play area through securing funding from a number of grant organisations including WREN, Caird Bardon, (via Grantscape) HESCO, Yorkshire Building Society, Garfield Weston Foundation, Beaverbrooks, Openworks, Brackenridge, Hanson and Tate Golf Day in addition to Friends of Temple Newsam and Leeds City Council Playbuilder funding to name a few.

The play area will create enchantment, adventure and excitement for children of all ages and abilities, with a sensory maze, adventure unit, zip wire, swings and many more play features – providing a flagship play area for disabled children and their families for the city. Phys-Cap Play Area will be one of the largest multi-ability play areas in the north.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services and Leeds Play Champion will be joined by children from nearby Colton Primary School; children who have received Phys-Cap support; plus representatives from the charity, to see the work on the playground begin.

Coronation Street’s Jack Shepherd, a patron of Phys-Cap says,
“Due to filming schedules I can’t be at this important event but I know how hard everyone at Phys-Cap has worked to see this day come to fruition. A playground such as this is a necessary feature of any forward thinking city and I’m proud my home town has had the foresight and enthusiasm to make this happen. This play space will bring a great deal of happiness to so many children and I’m happy to support Phys-Cap in helping children that are so often overlooked.”

Cllr Judith Blake says, “It is wonderful to see work start on this play area and I am delighted that we were able to secure the funding after all of the hard work Phys-Cap put into raising funds themselves. It really has been a pleasure to work in partnership with Phys-Cap and I want to thank them for the absolute determination they have shown in order to bring a fully inclusive play area to Leeds.

“This new play ground will be something the entire city should be proud of and I have no doubt that it will be well used by hundreds of children regardless of their ability and will add a whole new dimension to a day out at Temple Newsam. I am sure I will be adding my voice to those of children across the city when I say that I can’t wait to see the finished result in the summer.”

The play area, which will officially open on Thursday 30th June, will form part of a larger scheme to improve facilities at Temple Newsam Estate. There will be disabled parking bays and a Changing Places toilet facility plus new interactive exhibits at the farm attraction are coming soon!
Phys-Cap: Registered Charity No: 512422

Notes to editors:

Phys-Cap is a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for children suffering from severe physical disabilities, by purchasing specialised and therapeutic equipment. The goal of the charity is to ensure that we always have the funds readily available to help children cope a little easier with disabilities and to offer financial assistance whenever the need arises. Our aim is to always be in a position to say YES when requests for help and assistance are received. We are known as the ‘last resort’ when all other doors have been closed.
Phys-Cap has come to the aid of many children in the region providing funding for equipment which makes a huge difference to their quality of life and that of their carers. Earlier this year the charity funded a Pavilion for Green Meadows Special School, having also supplied a sound and light system for their hydrotherapy pool.
To make a donation please contact David Bransby:

Media Contact for Phys-Cap: Sharon Brigden at SLB PR Ltd
Tel: 0113 269 8100 email:

Media contact for Leeds City Council: Emma Whittell, press office, 0113 2474713,

People with disabilities deserve better than bog standard

Picture caption: (l-r) Michelle Irving and her son Dylan take a look at the new Changing Places facility at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with Cllr Lucinda Yeadon and Nicky Taylor."

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.

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 and funded with money from Aiming High for Disabled Children.

Councillor 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.”

Nicky Taylor, community development officer at West Yorkshire Playhouse said:

“We are thrilled to have a Changing Places facility at West Yorkshire Playhouse. We have a long-standing and ongoing commitment to access both in our theatres and through community and education projects. It is a priority for us to ensure our facilities are accessible for all our patrons, including those with profound and multiple disabilities.

“Our city centre location and long opening hours mean the people of Leeds who require this facility can access a Changing Places easily, whether on shopping trips, dropping in to our café or seeing a show.”

Families can find out if there are Changing Places toilets in a location they wish to visit nationally by looking at the website 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. There are some 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 at a new play area Temple Newsam.

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