Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Trainee pair enjoy Chelsea chance to shine

Caption: Apprentice gardeners Andrew Bray (left in image immediately above) and Dominic Grimes join Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Keith Wakefield (right) with the model and some plants from The HESCO Garden 2011

Two of the unsung heroes of Leeds City Council’s bid for glory at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show have this week been putting the finishing touches to their roles.

Parks and countryside service trainees Dominic Grimes and Andrew Bray have been hard at work in recent weeks and months at the council’s Red Hall Nursery perfecting some of the plants which will be on display for the world to see in a fortnight as part of The HESCO Garden 2011.

The garden created by Leeds City Council with support and full sponsorship from Leeds-based world-leading manufacturers of products used in civil engineering HESCO Bastion Limited is now in the final stages of preparation ahead of the event from May 24-28 in London.

Dominic from Burley-in-Wharfedale and Andrew from Meanwood are both learning their trade as part of the council’s two-year Green Apprenticeship Programme. The pair were offered the chance to work on this year’s Chelsea garden project as part of the service and council’s commitment to training and developing new talent.

Both 17-year-olds have been part of the planting team which focuses on ensuring the plants in the garden are perfectly in bloom for show week, while Dominic has also been part of the team installing last year’s historic gold medal-winning Chelsea Garden 2010 in the ‘Gardens of the World’ section of Roundhay Park which will shortly be open to the public.

The duo this week had a major visitor in Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield who came to see the result of their efforts.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“It is really great to see Dominic and Andrew getting the chance to be part of something like putting a Chelsea garden together which will represent our city on an international level. The skills they are acquiring will benefit parks and green spaces here in Leeds for years to come and I wish them both the very best of luck with their apprenticeships.

“Across the council encouraging young talent in our city is a major priority for us and hopefully young people will look and say ‘If they can do it, I can’ and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there to learn a trade and enjoy a successful career.”

Dominic Grimes, who has been on the apprenticeship scheme for 12 months, said:

“It was fantastic to be asked if I wanted to be involved in the Chelsea gardens for both this year and last year. It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a huge amount about how carefully everything has to be planned and carried out when you are competing at Chelsea.”

Colleague Andrew Bray, who has only been on the scheme for a little over a month, said:

“To be pitched in at the deep end and asked to help develop the plants for the Chelsea garden was a bit of a shock but it has been brilliant. Everyone puts so much effort into making sure everything is right and that sets the standard you need to reach. It would be absolutely fantastic if something I have been part of working on does well at Chelsea.”

The theme of The HESCO Garden 2011 is to showcase the power of nature and water power in particular.

The centrepiece of the garden will be a traditional mill as seen in Yorkshire during the industrial revolution, with an eye-catching giant working water wheel attached measuring approximately three metres tall (over 10 feet) which will be pumping water around the garden.

The role of the wheel it is to celebrate not only the pivotal role water power played in the industrial past but also the growing role it is playing once again as a clean and renewable energy resource in the present and for the future.

The garden will also feature a central source of water which will be fed by the wheel while surrounding the mill will be areas of rockwork, trees and water-loving ferns and plants to complete its natural look and feel.

Partner and garden sponsor HESCO Bastion Limited said:

"HESCO are delighted for the third year running to be sponsoring and supporting Leeds City Council at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show. Leeds has a long-held reputation for engineering excellence dating back to the industrial revolution; this year’s garden focuses on these engineering developments of the past and shows their relevancy and adaptability in providing engineering solutions today.

“HESCO are proud that their products carry on the Leeds engineering tradition for innovation and design. HESCO are a strong supporter of both community and business initiatives in Leeds and are pleased that they are able to offer their support in the design and sponsorship for this year’s entry to this prestigious gardening event."

For further information on The HESCO Garden 2011 visit www.leedsatchelsea.com or follow the garden as it develops on Twitter at twitter.com/leedsatchelsea.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Decade of road safety action marked

This week marks the start of a decade of action on road safety.

The United Nations-led national project will start on 11 May, and Leeds City Council along with Leeds College of Building and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will be marking the start of the project with a day of interactive road safety events on Friday 13 May.

The day will consist of interactive events and presentations, including a talk by bereaved father, Tony Davison, whose son was killed in a car crash in Leeds in 2002.

The day has been arranged for first year students at Leeds College to promote safe road use and smarter travel choices.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member with responsibility for development said:

“Young drivers and those driving to work are key groups to target in the drive to reduce road casualties in the UK, so getting the opportunity to tackle both at once is one not to be missed. We are hoping that this event can become a regular fixture for students at colleges across Leeds and help to create a future generation of safer road users”.

This is a pilot event which has potential to become a regular fixture in the calendars not only of Leeds Building college but other education and training organisations too.

The Decade of Action has the official goal of 'stabilising and then reducing' global road traffic fatalities by 2020.

For more information on the Decade of Action visit the website at http://www.decadeofaction.org/index.html

Notes to editors:
The day will run from 9.30am to 3.00pm at the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service building on Staningley road.


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

Council announces New Chapter libraries revamp

Caption: The new children and family mobile will play a key role under the New Chapter proposals

Proposals for a major shake-up of library services in Leeds are to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

Following the outcome of a 10-week public consultation exercise, the council’s ‘New Chapter’ plan to revamp its library services will be debated by the council’s executive board at Civic Hall on Wednesday 18 May.

Under the revised proposals, 25 of the current 53 libraries managed by the council will see their opening hours extended while a further eight will maintain their current hours.

The current mobile library service is to be greatly expanded into ‘Libraries Direct’, offering state-of-the-art new facilities direct to the heart of communities and to the doorstep of users of all ages with new routes and stops all over the city.

As part of the changes, Libraries Direct will take the place of services provided in 15 existing library buildings which are in poor condition, are not well used and are proving increasingly expensive to maintain.

Overall as a result of the changes, the service would offer more than 40 extra hours per week than it currently does and would also save approximately £625,000. All permanent staff would be retained under the proposals.

The New Chapter proposals were first unveiled in autumn last year, with the council looking to offer a new library service which meets the needs of users both now and into the future, embracing modern technology as well as online and social media services.

A citywide 10-week consultation exercise was undertaken about the initial proposals between December 2010 and February 2011, with online questionnaires and surveys carried out as well as the details and feedback forms being available in every library plus discussions by parish councils and equalities groups affiliated to the council.

The consultation resulted in over 4,300 responses being received with the proposals then being amended to take into account the results.

Following the consultation feedback the possibility of a transfer to volunteer or community use would be explored at a further two library buildings while three others will remain open for 15 hours a week.

Under the plans linking council services together in some areas will also be explored, such as offering cafes in libraries or bringing youth or early years services together with library services to offer greater learning opportunities and support direct to users.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“This New Chapter proposal offers us the chance to give the people of Leeds a revitalised library service coming direct to users rather than asking them to visit buildings some of which are in a very poor condition.

“We were highly encouraged by the feedback, and as you will see from the report the responses have led to interesting new ideas being explored. We know the issue of closing any council building is highly contentious, but the key thing with this proposal is to think of the service itself and how it can best be delivered rather than any building it is based in. We look forward to exploring the proposals further.”

For further information and details about New Chapter, go to www.leeds.gov.uk and search for ‘New Chapter’.

Notes to editors:

Leeds currently has 53 libraries, significantly higher than all other core cities in the UK, which in the financial year 2009/2010 received four million visits. Of those, 1.5 million visits were to four of those libraries and 2.8 million visits were made to 13 libraries.

Twenty of the libraries received a total of 132,000 visits in 12 months and due to their limited opening hours book stock worth over £1m currently cannot be fully accessed.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk