Sunday, 18 September 2011

Leeds has the vision to be the best

Population increase, climate change and the global economy are all massive challenges facing Leeds. But Leeds is not only ready to meet these challenges head on, it also has ambitions to become the best city in the UK.

The city’s partnership organisation, the Leeds Initiative, is launching a new long-term plan, Vision for Leeds 2011 to 2030, which sets out how Leeds will achieve this ambitious aim. At the same time, a short-term city priority plan sets out what the city must achieve over the next four years to be on target to achieve its long-term aims.

A series of community events across the city this week will focus on the five themes of the vision, which are:
Best city….for children at Holy Rosary and St. Anne’s Catholic Primary School; Best city…to live at Revive Leeds, East Leeds Recycling Centre; Best city…for communities at Hamara Healthy Living Centre; Best city…for health and wellbeing at Armley Helping Hands; and Best city…for business at the Leeds Chamber of Commerce’s annual lunch.

The Vision for Leeds 2011 to 2030 is a long-term plan for the future development of the city, which has been put together after extensive consultation with local residents, school children, third sector organisations and businesses across the city.

The overall aim of the Vision for Leeds is to improve life for the people of Leeds and make the city a better place. After listening carefully to what local people, businesses and community organisations said, the ultimate vision for 2030 is to be the best city in the UK, by being:
• fair, open and welcoming;
• having a prosperous and sustainable economy; and
• having successful communities.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“This Vision is ambitious – but it needs to be - we have some big challenges ahead of us. With population growth, cuts in public spending and the effects of climate change all to plan for, we need have concrete plans in place.

“We will play our part by helping Leeds to become the best council in the country, but we cannot achieve this Vision alone. We want to see all people, businesses and organisations get behind this collective effort.

“The success of our city depends on all of us working together to make sure that our Vision and all our plans and strategies are robust and have been tested and challenged. We will make sure that we continue to work in partnership and with local communities to achieve the best for the people of Leeds.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council added:
“We are setting ourselves a massive challenge – to be the best city in the country - not the richest or the biggest, but the best for all who live and work in Leeds - our children, our communities and our businesses. A place where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life.

“Leeds is a city of many proud and distinctive communities, towns and villages, and this community spirit came out very vividly from the consultation.

“But, we cannot become the ‘best city’ without the support of the people who live and work here. Recognising the importance of individual communities in helping us achieve our ambition, we decided not to have one big corporate launch but have smaller, community-based events alongside the people who will actually help us make it a reality.”

The Leeds Initiative last published a long-term plan for the city in 2004; however since then much has changed both globally and locally. The city of Leeds is facing a series of major challenges. Despite becoming wealthier as a city over the last 20 years, Leeds still has too many deprived areas, where there is a poor quality of life, low educational performance, too much crime and anti-social behaviour, poor housing, poor health, and families where no one has worked for generations. The city needs to continue to tackle the multiple problems of poverty and to improve all parts of Leeds.

Following the consultation the top priorities to emerge were:
• good quality, reliable public transport;
• a cleaner, greener city;
• new job opportunities;
• a sense of community spirit;
• good community relations;
• safety; and
• culture and entertainment.

Alongside the long-term Vision for Leeds, the Leeds Initiative is publishing the City Priority Plan, which sets out the key outcomes and priorities to be delivered by the council, and its partners, over the next four years. The priority plan will help the city address short-term challenges resulting from the reduced public funding between now and 2015. It sets out the priorities to help the city tackle the urgent issues that need to be addressed now.

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