Monday, 20 June 2011

Diploma certificates to be presented at special ceremony

More than 200 young people will be presented with certificates tonight after successfully completing their diploma qualifications.

The presentations will take place at Leeds Civic Hall and will reward the hard work and dedication of more than 200 young people who have achieved the qualifications.

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The diploma awards ceremony will take place on Monday 20 June 2011 between 6pm and 8.30pm at the Civic Hall. The speeches will begin at 7pm with the presentations starting soon after. To attend please email or call 0113 3951577.
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Diplomas for 14-19 year olds were introduced in 2008 and there are currently 14 different subjects, combining academic learning with practical hands-on skills, which have been designed in partnership with employers and universities. They are flexible qualifications that can be studied alongside other qualifications including GCSEs and A levels.

Subjects studied by the young people include creative and media, hair and beauty, construction and the built environment, business administration and finance, engineering, society, health and development and IT.
Councillor Jane Dowson, lead member for children’s services, will speak at the event before presenting certificates to the young people.

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“Diplomas offer young people a different way of achieving their qualifications by allowing them to learn in both an academic and practical way. They have been designed with employers so the young people have the necessary skills and experience to excel in their chosen field.

“The awards evening is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and successes of these young people who have studied hard and achieved so much. They have set themselves up for a successful future and should be very proud of their achievements.”

One business which is supporting the diploma programme in Leeds is construction company Laing O’Rourke. It has committed to an ongoing programme to support the 14-19 year old construction and engineering diplomas and is working with two local Leeds schools - the David Young Community Academy and Guiseley School.

The aim of the work is to ensure young people have an accessible link to industry where they can gain an insight into modern construction and engineering methods. The outcome will ensure young people are better prepared and more experienced once they complete their exams and will have a greater chance of gaining employment – with Laing O’Rourke as a potential employer.

To demonstrate the construction and engineering methods, Laing O’Rourke invited the young people to their ‘explore manufacturing’ facility where pre-cast concrete products are made to gain a better understanding of the manufacturing process’s involved. Laing O’Rourke then set the students an assignment centred on the sustainability of the building, the process, and the product and the assignment was designed to meet various learning objectives set out in the curriculum.

The young people were tasked with making recommendations for improvement in key areas and carried out research, created scale models, and learned all about the design, manufacture and assembly process.

John Carson, construction north & Scotland engineering leader for Laing O’Rourke, said:
“We were impressed by how well the young people had worked out the costs and savings, considering all aspects of health and safety. Most impressive though was their scale model – we were given a hands-on demonstration on how it worked and we were sold!”


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

£1.3m investment to help reduce burglary levels in Leeds

More than £1.3m is due to be invested in Leeds to reduce the number of burglaries that take place in the city over the next four years.

The money, which has been made available from the Community Safety Fund, will be used to support the Leeds Burglary Reduction Strategy, designed to tackle burglary levels until 2015.

Leeds was criticised by the Audit Commission for its high burglary levels in 2009/10 and, despite improvements at the last inspection in 2010/11, a number of concerns and recommendations were made.

Leeds recorded its highest ever burglary figure of 16,937 in 2002/3 and significant reductions were achieved to the low of 7,670 burglaries in 2005/6. However, this period of reduction reversed over the following four years until 2010/11 when Leeds saw an approximate seven per cent reduction on the previous year, recording 8,869 crimes. Sustaining this progress has proved to be difficult.

The Leeds Burglary Reduction Strategy aims to have a long term reduction on these figures and six key areas have been identified to have the maximum impact. These are:
• Offender management and criminal justice
• Reducing and disrupting the stolen goods market
• Coordinated and targeted enforcement
• Crime prevention and standards of security
• The impact of burglary on vulnerable communities
• Ensuring value for money in tackling burglary

In 2010, 1,600 people were arrested for one or more burglary offences and over the last four years this number exceeds 4,000.

It is widely recognised that Leeds has a number of specific issues which contribute to the high number of burglaries which take place, all of which have been considered as part of the reduction strategy. These include:
• High numbers of privately rented Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s), which often have poor security measures in place.
• One of the largest student populations in the UK, many living in private rented accommodation and concentrated in Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse.
• More affluent areas that are closely located to deprived areas, providing easy access for potential offenders.
• A high number of young people entering the criminal justice system with burglary as their first offence which is not typical of other large cities across the country.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will meet on Wednesday 22 June to discuss the issue and are recommended to agree the Leeds Burglary Reduction Strategy and approve the allocation of £1.326m from the Community Safety Fund.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member for environment and neighbourhoods and chair of Safer Leeds, said:
“This amount of money is a huge investment to tackle burglary in Leeds – an issue which currently affects far too many people in the city. We are committed to working with West Yorkshire Police and our other partners to reduce this number and the new Leeds Burglary Reduction Strategy will help achieve this.

“Burglary is a crime which can have a devastating impact on its victims and we have a duty to do all we can to reduce the number of incidents. This is something we take very seriously, represented by this investment during a time when we are under pressure to reduce the amount of money we are spending.

“Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police are committed to targeting burglars and disrupting their activities. This strategy will help us achieve this and help ensure that people feel safe in their own homes."

If agreed by the council’s executive board, a progress report on the impact of the strategy will be brought before the executive board in June 2012.


Notes to editors:

Safer Leeds is the crime-fighting partnership between Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and partner agencies from across Leeds, including the city’s ALMOs.

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

Council to debate new policy on housing growth

Leeds City Council is to discuss how to manage future housing growth at a meeting of its executive board this week (Wednesday 22 June).

This follows a series of planning appeals where house builders have been successful in overturning council decisions to reject schemes on greenfield sites. The council has argued that these sites should not be built on while substantial areas of brownfield land remains undeveloped.

However, local decision makers have found their hands tied following recent legal decisions that keep rigid national housing targets in place. This is despite announcements from the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, that they were being scrapped.

In the face of these rulings, and to protect against costly legal fees, the council has to reconsider its current policy and open up more sites to housing developments.

This move is an interim measure that the council can defend while a long-term Core Strategy for housing growth is developed. The council is determined that this will encourage appropriate development which maintains the greenbelt, makes sure essential social infrastructure is in place, creates sustainable communities and protects the distinct character of each neighbourhood within the city.

The council is publishing a prospectus to find out what local people think about the future of housing in the city. This informal consultation will give residents a chance to contribute to the new Core Strategy for housing.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member for development and economy, said:

“Despite promises from the Secretary of State, we are still in the position where the council is losing appeal after appeal in an attempt to get development happening which fits our priorities for the city.

“These interim proposals are not ideal but do put in place some framework for housing developments while we produce a long-term strategy.”

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

“We are publishing a prospectus to start discussing how we plan for future housing growth in a way that encourages regeneration and produces innovative development which benefits the city.”


Notes to Editor

1. In May 2010 Eric Pickles announced the abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and wrote to all Chief Planners advising this should be ‘a material consideration in any decisions’ being taken.

2. The council’s approach to planning appeals was based on this advice, which in a number of subsequent legal decisions has been rejected. In the recent Grimes Dyke case the Secretary of State attached little weight to his intention to abolish RSS.

3. The council is proposing to withdraw the one remaining appeal at Whitehall Road, Drighlington
For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602