Thursday, 29 September 2011

Starting the journey – best city for communities

Issued on behalf of Leeds Initiative

Key partners in Leeds met for the first time today to consider how the council, public services and communities can tackle basic problems in neighbourhoods and improve the quality of life for local people.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Leeds Initiative’s Safer Stronger Board, Cllr Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council's executive member for neighbourhoods and housing and chair of the board, said:
“Last week we launched our Vision for the long term; today we have begun the practical work to join up our actions to be more effective and become a better city. We can only achieve the ‘safer and stronger’ aims of this board if all communities and organisations that have a stake in the city’s future work together in partnership.”

Priorities for the partnership are to:
• reduce crime levels and their impact across Leeds;
• effectively tackle and reduce anti-social behaviour;
• ensure that local neighbourhoods are clean; and
• increase a sense of belonging that builds cohesive and harmonious communities.

Bishop John Packer, deputy chair of the board, added:
“I warmly welcome this new partnership, which will unite our efforts to support communities to become more resilient, and neighbourhoods to become better places to live. Leeds has one of the most diverse populations in the country and we want to help ensure that this remains a positive element of our city and build on the strong sense of community spirit.”

The board will closely measure performance over the months to ensure that targets are met and that local communities benefit accordingly.


You’re hired- 15 new apprentices in local community

East North East Homes Leeds, which manages council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council, is helping 15 local people build construction careers.

What: Photo and interview opportunities with the apprentices and Andy Hall, one of the training mentors, while they are on site receiving their training.
Where: 36 Wykebeck Terrace LS9 0HS
When: 10am, Friday 30 September

At a time when the recession has had a real effect on the construction industry, causing building contracts to dry up, many smaller firms have been unable to afford take on apprentices.

However, ENEHL’s construction services arm has expanded, fully taking over the routine and planned maintenance to the 20,000 council homes in their area. With 175 construction workers currently employed, the focus was on finding future employees from the local communities’ unemployed residents.

After a set of rigorous interviews and practical tests, seven apprentices were taken on to learn 14 month vocational QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework; this replaces the old NVQs qualification) in Construction Maintenance Operations and 8 to do 18 month to 3 year trade apprenticeships as bricklayers, plasterers, joiners, plumbers and electricians.

Working closely with Leeds College of Building and Harrogate College, each apprentice has a training programme that includes day release sessions to learn the principles of their trade and the opportunity to put in work-based training back on site.

The trainees will receive a salary with the intention for them to move into long-term employment with the company.

Cllr Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, housing and regeneration, said:
“It’s heartening to see a local organisation like East North East Homes Leeds take their responsibilities to their community so seriously. Not only are they providing homes for people in the area they are making the most of their position as an employer to provide much-needed work and training at a time when opportunities like this are scarce.

“I would like to congratulate them for this imaginative initiative and wish all the new trainees the very best in their future careers.”

Apprentices have been welcomed from all parts of the community with a good mix of younger and older men and women of varying educational and work-based backgrounds all united in wanting to learn a trade and work within their local areas.

Angelena Fixter, chair of ENEHL Board, said:
“As a local employer in this current financial climate, it’s great for us to be able to see local people from all walks of life being given this opportunity. Our aim is to support these apprentices to become top class tradespeople with a successful future career learning new skills and being able to give these back to the communities they live in.”

Ian Billyard, principal at Leeds College of Building, commented:
“It is extremely important that the college and companies in the construction sector work together to ensure that the next generation of construction employees have the vital skills and knowledge that are required to succeed in the industry. It is fantastic that ENEHL are supporting the apprentices with their future careers and developing skills in the local community.”

Steve Storey, head of the School of Construction, Motor Vehicle and Engineering at Harrogate College, said:
"Harrogate College are extremely proud of the apprentices and the partnership with East North East Homes Leeds. We are committed to supporting the community with innovative and relevant training programmes and this is one example of the wide range of apprenticeship programmes we offer.”

Apprentice Interview Opportunities:
Steven Harrison (trade apprentice): age 25; from Seacroft. Trained as a joiner but struggled to find an apprenticeship.

Oliver Adamson (trade apprentice): age 18; from Moortown. Training as an electrician in his second year.

Dion Fleming (QCF apprentice): aged 27, from Chapeltown. Mum of one looking to forge a new career in construction.

John Nelson (QCF apprentice): age 47; from Chapeltown. Has worked as a postman and on a market stall now looking to build to gain his foundation NVQ to start a trade.

David Horsfall (trade apprentice): age 35 from Gipton. Training as a plasterer. Has worked in various roles as a landscaper and labourer in casual construction work.

Simon Catterll (QCF apprentice): age 16; from Osmondthorpe. Has just let school.

Luke McLoughlin (QCF apprentice): age 21 from Moortown. Attended Leeds College of Building but struggled to find an apprenticeship and had been out of work for a year.

Notes for editors:
East North East Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. East North East Homes Leeds manages 19,000 council-owned residential properties in Boston Spa, Burmantofts, Chapel Allerton, Chapeltown, Collingham, Gipton, Halton Moor, Harehills, Linton, Meanwood, Moor Allerton, Moortown, Seacroft, and Wetherby.


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

Market bucks retail trends

Kirkgate Market is bucking the trend of doom and gloom on the high street, with footfall at the Leeds landmark up by four per cent in recent weeks whilst other retail areas are feeling the pinch.

The recent upturn in the market’s fortunes can be attributed in part to a range of initiatives to attract new customers. A new ‘shop and drop’ scheme allowing customers to pick up produce in the morning and collect it after work has been a huge success and has won a national award and the market has been nominated for two retail awards. National and international TV and film companies regularly use it as a location, including prime time shows like ‘Come Dine With Me’, and the council is working closely with students during freshers' week to attract them to the market.

The welcome news comes as Leeds City Council looks to move forward with the next phase of plans to secure the long-term future of the market.

Media invite:
On Friday September 30, the council’s market champion, Councillor Gerry Harper will be at Kirkgate market offices at 12 noon to provide the first in a series of briefings on how the proposals for the future of the market are taking shape.

Work will shortly begin on the first phase of a programme to carry out essential maintenance to the building. This will include £200k of investment on the market’s electrics and ventilation systems, as well as repairs to the roof of the 1904 building. A further second phase of much-needed works totalling £400k is planned for the coming months.

The council is also looking to finalise plans for long-term investment that will return the market to its former glory. They are asking an independent specialist to advise them on how to make the most of the market space so that work on the improvements can start in earnest.

The specialists will advise on the optimum and most competitive size of the market as well as the potential for securing significant investment for its renovation, possibly in partnership with the private sector.

Councillor Cllr Gerry Harper, deputy executive member for city development and markets champion, said:

“The fact that we are already investing significant sums of money in Kirkgate market is indicative of the council’s long-term commitment to the building, which is the jewel in the city’s retail crown.

“It can’t be denied that there are still vacant stalls, particularly in the more recent extensions to the building. However occupancy rates are higher than on many high streets, and footfall in the market is increasing whilst it is falling elsewhere, which is extremely encouraging. This is thanks in no small part to the recent promotions and events which are bringing more shoppers through the doors.

“The forthcoming investment in essential maintenance works is an important landmark in our efforts to secure the market’s long-term future. The next phase of this is getting specialist advice on how to make the most of this wonderful facility.

“The two temporary extensions were never designed to last as long as they have and now need millions of pounds of investment to bring them up to standard.

“Unfortunately, due to current financial constraints, the council doesn’t have the capital available to carry out this work. Add to this that the 1976 building is currently under occupied, so it is questionable whether it would be worth spending any further money on this section of the market before a final decision is made on its future. Above all, we want to make this a thriving place for shoppers and stall holders to trade again in a building befitting the market’s history.

“How we do this is one of the key questions we will be asking the consultants to consider. We will also ask them to assess whether the private sector interest is there to help us make this happen. We hope they will report back very quickly so that we can start making the changes that traders and the public want to see.

“We have not made any final decisions yet but I know there is uncertainty among traders so we want to ensure that they and the public are informed of the progress we’re making. The traders within the market are essential to its future success, so we want to make sure that they know what’s being proposed and give them the opportunity to have their say on it.”


Notes to Editors

Kirkgate market is a grade one listed building in a prime retail location in the heart of the city centre. It is housed in five inter-connected halls: 1904 hall, the 1875 hall, a 1930s extension and two temporary hangar structures which form the rear of the indoor market. These were added in 1976 and 1981 following a fire at the market and are now well past their expected 15-20 year lifespan and beyond economical repair.

In July this year and following a major inquiry into the future of the market, the council’s executive board agreed to transfer the market to an arms-length management organisation and instructed officers to investigate what form this should take. Next week the council will formally go out to tender to procure a consultant to take this work forward, with a view to reporting back to the council with firm recommendations in the near future. The brief to consultants will be discussed in more detail at Cllr Harper’s briefing on Friday.

For media enquiries please contact:
Annie Goodyear, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3937