Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Senior councillors to discuss farming changes in Leeds

Livestock numbers could be reduced at Temple Newsam’s Home Farm as part of a change to Leeds City Council’s farming activities.

Senior councillors at the executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 12 October will discuss proposals to reduce the numbers of animals currently held and bred at the farm and for a stronger focus on the visitor attraction rather than commercial farming.

Such a change would also see a reduction of approximately 30 per cent in the amount of land used for farming by the council at its four farming sites – Temple Newsam Estate, Lotherton Hall, Whinmoor Farm and Lineham Farm near Eccup – to bring about an annual saving of £100,000 as part of wider council budget pressures.

The main focus is around Temple Newsam Estate, where Home Farm is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the city. Opened to the public in 1979, the farm is considered to be the largest Rare Breeds Survival Trust-approved (RBST) farm in Europe, with visitors able to see some of the rarest British animals as part of the full working farm experience.

The proposals are aimed around improving the visitor experience to Home Farm and the surrounding Temple Newsam Estate, as the changes would involve the wider farming activities which the public largely have no access to currently.

One major possible benefit would be improved public access to other areas of the estate, with a move away from intensive nitrate-based commercial farming to instead enhancing biodiversity by farming the historic breeds in their natural environment and conserving areas where wildlife can flourish.

In terms of livestock numbers, each year the RBST publishes an updated watchlist of animal breeds it considers to be critical, endangered, vulnerable or at risk. From the 2010 list, 53 per cent of the cattle and 22 per cent of the sheep being farmed at Home Farm were no longer considered to be under critical threat.

As a result the new proposals suggest cutting the numbers of cattle, sheep and goats from 372 to 210, with a focus on maintaining the most at-risk breeds and also some visitor-friendly breeds to ensure the quality of the visitor attraction is not affected. The impact of the change would see 85 per cent of all sheep and 83 per cent of all cattle remaining on the farm being those on the RBST endangered list.

Others savings would be made from reduction in supplies and services needed for the upkeep of the working aspects of the farm, as well as use of machinery. A staffing restructure would then also be carried out to meet the needs of the revised farm services.

Talks over possible changes began in 2010, with councillors from the former City Development scrutiny board carrying out their own review and making recommendations as to the future of the council’s farming strategy. Extensive consultation has also taken place with staff, local councillors, residents groups, The Friends of Temple Newsam Estate and other key stakeholders including the RBST.

The current agricultural land at Lotherton Hall and Whinmoor form part of other council plans which are currently being finalised, while talks have already been held with the Lineham Farm Trust as to a potential change of management of the council’s land used for agriculture there.

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

“The thing to make clear straight away with this proposal is that anyone visiting Home Farm at Temple Newsam will notice no negative impact whatsoever, and we are committed to making a visit to Home Farm and the Temple Newsam Estate even more of a great day out than it is now with visitors able to see a wide variety of animals and a working farm.

“This change is about looking at the need for the elements the public currently do not see, and whether they are an effective use of council funds given the extreme financial pressures the city is experiencing. Extensive consultation has taken place on this matter, and from those discussions this is what we think offers the most commonsense solution to making savings while protecting and enhancing the experience of people of all ages visiting Temple Newsam in the future.”

For more information on the Temple Newsam Estate, visit http://www.leeds.gov.uk/templeNewsamhouse/

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472
Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

More elbow power to local communities to keep their areas clean

Local communities in Leeds have been given new powers to decide for themselves how their areas are kept free from environmental crime and grime.

From today a new agreement is in place between Leeds City Council and its local area committees empowering the committees to decide how they want their street cleansing and environmental services to operate.

Local areas will be able to make decisions on a number of local services such as mechanical and manual street cleansing, litter bin emptying and control of flyers; highways enforcement, flytipping removal and enforcement and waste storage and transportation control.

They will also be able to decide on the frequency and operation of services for leaf clearing, stray dogs and fouling, overhanging vegetation control and graffiti removal.

Once they have agreed their priorities three new council area teams, known as environmental locality teams, will carry out the work to their requirements. They have been set up to cover the West/North West, East/North East and South areas of the city.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services, Leeds City Council, said:
“Neighbourhoods will still receive the same levels of service from council staff but local area committees will decide for themselves how they are targeted. The amount of resources we put into communities won’t change and we’ll work hard to ensure a smooth transition in how the services operate.

“Local people are best placed to know what needs to be done in their area and they can help us get the most out of our resources. This is particularly important to help us maximise the efficiency of council services under the constraints of reduced budgets. These new arrangements will help towards our ambition to achieve a cleaner, greener Leeds.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods and housing, Leeds City Council, said:
“This is all about putting power back into local communities by enabling them to choose for themselves what matters most to them in keeping their environment pleasant.

“Area committees will gain real responsibility and the power to harness that local knowledge. We’ve had a tremendous response from committees that have signed up and they are really enthusiastic about having such a big influence on their local services. It means that they can respond quickly to what people in their areas are telling them needs to be done.”

The delegation of services to area committees will be monitored and reviewed through an arrangement with the council called a service level agreement to ensure the work meets standards.

It is intended that devolving these powers to communities will help the council’s strategic aim of achieving a “cleaner, greener and more attractive city through effective environmental management”.

Refuse and recycling collection services and city centre street cleansing will continue to be decided directly by the council and are unaffected by the new locality working arrangements.


For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk

ENDS

Final week to enter apprenticeship competition

There is less than one week remaining for young people to submit their entries to win an apprenticeship in the construction industry.

The ‘Build My Future; Build My Leeds’ competition launched at the beginning of September and is offering two young people the chance to win a full apprenticeship in the construction industry.

The competition is part of the Leeds Apprenticeship challenge, which launched in February 2011. Young people are invited to write 100 words about the new Leeds Arena and / or Trinity Leeds and create an illustration to support.

All entries must be submitted to Leeds City Council before the closing date of 7th October 2011.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for employment and skills said:
“This competition will ensure that two young people get a chance to gain valuable skills and employment in the construction industry, so I would encourage anyone who hasn’t submitted an entry yet to have a go before the closing date on Friday."

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive member responsible for children’s services said:

“This is an excellent chance for two young people to learn practical skills that will help them in the future.”

For more information and to download an application form visit our website at www.leeds.gov.uk/buildmyleeds

Notes to editors:

Entrants are asked to write up to a 100 words about the new entertainment Arena and/or Trinity Leeds, the new retail development, and create an illustration to support their words. The competition is being held in partnership with Leeds City Council, Construction Leeds and the National Apprenticeships Service, BAM, Laing O’Rourke and Leeds College of Building.

The competition is open to all year 11 and upto 18 year olds within Leeds who are not currently in full – time employment.

Finalists who are chosen will attend a site visit to the Arena or Trinity Leeds on the 19th October and also a Competition Session at the Leeds College of Building on the 8th November. They will also have the option to attend taster sessions to gain some practical experience of the various trades in the mid October holidays. To book a taster session contact student services at Leeds College of Building.

Ends


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

East North East Homes Leeds recognised for investing in people


Caption: Front line staff from East North East Homes Leeds

Employees at East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL) are celebrating after being awarded ‘Investor in People’ status.

The award demonstrates that its people are developed to drive the successful performance of the company in the management of council homes in the north and east of the city.

ENEHL, who manage council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council, has held this prestigious award since the company was created in 2008 and this re-accreditation shows the ongoing commitment to excellent services to its communities.

The Investors in People report praised the strong team culture and the embedded focus on learning and development. Communications were highlighted as having ‘moved to another level’ enabling staff involvement and motivation to meet the company’s aims and objectives.

Angelena Fixter, chair of the East North East Homes Leeds board, said:

“I’m absolutely delighted, as we’ve worked hard engaging with our teams and developing our people both professionally and personally. I firmly believe that the company is only as good as the people who work for it and this award is a real testimonial to our teams that we productively deliver excellent services to our residents.

“The next step is for ENEHL to join the elite band of social landlords in the country by hopefully achieveing Gold standard.”

ENEHL has been highly recommended to apply for the Investors in People gold standard. The gold standard has over a hundred additional requirements over and above the basic standard to demonstrate embedded continual improvement.


Notes to Editors

Investors in People is a national quality Standard awarded to well-run organisations which demonstrate good management practice with a high emphasis on best practice people management and development.

East North East Homes Leeds (ENEHL)
East North East Homes Leeds is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) that manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. It is wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
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.



Ends


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