Friday, 7 October 2011

Head to the park for a cup of chocolate heaven

Chocolate-lovers should head to four parks in Leeds next week to take advantage of some mouth-watering delights.

As part of National Chocolate Week which runs from October 10-16, cafes at Temple Newsam, Lotherton Hall, Golden Acre Park and Tropical World at Roundhay Park will all be tempting the inner-chocoholic with a range of tasty hot chocolate treats at special prices.

The offer will only be running for one week so visitors need to pay a visit to the Tea Rooms at Temple Newsam, the Lotherton Cafe, the Explorers Cafe at Tropical World and The Bakery Cafe at Golden Acre to avoid missing out.

Apart from the allure of the chocolate, visitors will also be able to enjoy the autumnal beauty on display in the parks, all four of which are Green Flag-standard and recognised as being amongst the finest parks in the country.

Leeds City Council catering and retail officer Linda Gunn said:

“National Chocolate Week offers the perfect opportunity to go for a walk in these fantastic parks in Leeds and then enjoy the reward of a cup of luxurious hot chocolate afterwards.

“The offers will only be happening for Chocolate Week though, so if you are a hot chocolate fan make sure you don’t miss out on these special treats.”

For more information on parks in Leeds, visit www. http://www.leeds.gov.uk/about_leeds/parks_and_gardens.aspx

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

Consultation draws to close on extending Dog Control Orders

Consultation is drawing to a close on extending Leeds’ dog control orders to keep dogs out of places such as school grounds and to increase the number of places they be kept on leads.

Leeds City Council first introduced the dog control orders on February 1 this year, aimed at clamping down on nuisance or dangerous behaviour. They empower council staff to instruct people to put dogs on a lead in public anywhere in Leeds if they are causing a nuisance. They are also banned from play areas in some parks.

Currently the council is also consulting on proposals to extend powers to control dogs in public in the city. People are reminded that if they want to voice their views they need to contact the council by October 14.

One of the main suggestions is that on certain land dogs should be on a lead at all times. This includes areas such as cemeteries and crematoria to reduce potential disturbance to visitors, as well as on all carriageways, adjacent footpaths and grass verges, to prevent dogs running into roads.

The council also wants to find out what views are on the suggestion that the original order- banning dogs from certain land- should be widened to include school grounds, remembrance and wildlife gardens.

Should any of the proposals be implemented it would be a criminal offence to breach them, as it is with the existing orders, resulting in a fine of up to £1,000 on conviction. Alternatively, offenders can choose to pay a fixed penalty charge of £75 to avoid prosecution.

The council last week achieved its first prosecution since the existing orders were introduced when a woman who allowed her dog into a children’s play area in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey was fined £75 by Leeds Magistrates and ordered to pay costs of £75, plus a £15 victim surcharge, after pleading guilty to the charge.

A full list of land affected by the new proposals, further background information and some answers to frequently-asked questions about dog control orders can be found on the Leeds City Council website at www.leeds.gov.uk/dogs

www.leeds.gov.uk/dogs This is also where you can find an online questionnaire to submit with your views.

A copy of the consultation documents and lists identifying land that might be affected can be inspected at Leeds City Council’s Environmental Services offices at Millshaw Parkway, Leeds, LS11 0LS.

Hard copies of the survey can be requested via 0113 395 1765 or email a request to environmental.action@leeds.gov.uk.


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

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Leeds City Council reviews council tax discounts

Leeds City Council is carrying out extra checks on council tax discounts to ensure that it is collecting all the revenue it should be so that residents receive value for money.

All local authorities must ensure by law that they collect all the council tax that is due, and that any discount granted, such as single person’s discount, is only awarded where there is a valid entitlement.

Any discount given to residents reduces the revenue that the council is able to collect, so it needs to ensure that only those people that are due a discount are awarded one. Where additional checks have been done by other local authorities around the country, a number of single person discounts have been removed and extra council tax has been collected.

The majority of council tax discounts awarded are correct, but there are occasions when circumstances change and the Single Person Discount should be cancelled. For example, it no longer applies when another adult over the age of 18 moves into the home or a member of the household becomes 18 and is no longer in full-time education.

There are currently 124,000 Leeds residents claiming the single person discount. Rather than contacting every resident who currently claims, the council is carrying out checks to identify cases where it looks like there may be more than one adult at an address and the discount may no longer apply. In these cases residents will be contacted directly..

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“As a council we have a responsibility to collect all the tax which is due and to check that people are being awarded the correct entitlements.

“Any discounts given to residents reduces the revenue we are able to collect; therefore, we need to ensure that only those people that are eligible for a discount are awarded one.

If you have any questions about what council tax band your house falls into, visit the Valuation Office Agency web pages at www.voa.gov.uk

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

Parents and young people celebrated for good behaviour

Parents and young people who have made significant behavioural improvements are to be celebrated next week.

Signpost, a Leeds City Council run service that interacts with families who have had previous involvement with numerous other agencies and who continue to show a range of problematic behaviours, has organised a celebration evening to give recognition to parents and young people who have been involved with Signpost.

The evening will be hosted on Monday 10 October at the South Leeds Youth Hub, with parents and young people from across the city in attendance.


******************** Media opportunity ********************


All media are invited to the awards ceremony on Monday 10 October at 6pm at the South Leeds Youth Hub. Young people and parents will be available for interview. Please call the press office on 0113 247 4450 to arrange attendance.

******************** Media opportunity ********************



The awards evening will comprise of a number of categories under which parents or young people will receive certificates for their achievements, including leaderships, healthy living and strengthening families.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council executive board member for children’s services said:

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the progress that families and young people have made since they have become involved with Signpost.

“Many of the young people and parents supported by Signpost will have experience of chaotic home environments, poor attainment and involvement in crime and anti social behaviour.

“This event is aimed at giving these parents and young people a sense of achievement, to raise self esteem and confidence and give them a sense of belief about their future.

“The work of Signpost contributes towards giving the parents and young people a sense of civic responsibilities and a belief that they can make positive contributions to the community.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods said:

“It is important that we have a service such as Signpost that can work so positively with parents and young people across the city.

“The celebration evening is a great opportunity to congratulate families on the progress they have made, and offer continued encouragement to keep them on track.”


Additionally, there will be a raffle and prizes which have been donated by a number of organisations including Leeds Rhinos, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Welcome to Yorkshire, Eureka Museum, Imax Cinema, Ariel Extreme, East Riddleston Hall and Leeds United.


Notes to editors:

Signpost is a highly recognised brand across Leeds that is synonymous with delivering quality interventions with families who have had previous involvement with numerous other agencies and who persist in exhibiting a range of problematic behaviours. They are often referred to as the “top 1%” and the cost to the public purse of their behaviours and lifestyles can run into tens, even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The categories of awards are:

• ASDAN (accredited activities)
• Volunteering
• Expressive Arts Awards
• Leadership Award
• PSHE Award
• Active Citizenship Award
• Sports and Fitness Award
• Theatre in Education
• ASB Workshop
• Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities Parenting Group
• Healthy Living Network Group
• Individual Achievement Award


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

School children benefit from mental health scheme

Children in Leeds schools are to benefit from a scheme to improve their emotional well-being and mental health.

A total of £610,000 is being made available by Leeds City Council, NHS Leeds and the Schools Forum to develop Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) in 10 clusters of schools in the city.

Clusters are organised groups of schools and other services and partners, who come together to pool services to their local communities and pupils. The clusters are also putting significant funds into the project, demonstrating a commitment from all parties to joint investment in mental health.

Emotional wellbeing and mental health play a key part of a person’s ability to learn effectively, contribute positively to the community and be resilient to problems when they arise. One in ten children aged between 5 and 16 years has a mental health problem, and many continue to have such issues into adulthood. Half of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14 and three-quarters before their mid-20s.

TaMHS works with children aged 5-13 to improve their emotional well-being and mental health by intervening earlier, tackling problems faster and working preventatively.

Children and their families or carers are able to access specialist counselling and other mental health services, but the project also helps to promote social and emotional skills for all pupils.

The announcement of the new programmes follows a successful pilot project funded by the Department for Education, involving schools in the south and east of the city.

Three clusters of schools in south and east Leeds took part in the initial project, with the schools offering targeted individual and group work as well as different types of support to parents and staff.

The project was evaluated at the end of its second year. The results showed:

• 92 per cent of pupils from east Leeds referred for help showed an improvement, as did 83 per cent of those from south Leeds.
• 60 per cent of those children previously needing help from traditional specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were assessed as no longer needing it following the targeted work in schools.
• TaMHS allows children speedier access to specialist mental health services than traditional referral routes and costs up to 40 per cent less.
• The schools involved showed improved OFSTED results (eight out of nine trial schools scored outstanding or good in their care, guidance and support ratings).
• There was good feedback from users and professionals.

Ten clusters of schools successfully applied for the new locally-based funding . They are:
• Aireborough
• Bramley
• CHESS & Networks (two clusters working together in east and north east Leeds)
• Inner and Outer Pudsey (two clusters working together)
• Inner East
• Jess (south Leeds)
• NEXT (east north east Leeds)
• Open XS (west north west Leeds)

Ensuring children in Leeds are safe from harm and doing well in learning are two of the priorities of the Leeds’ Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP). Emotional wellbeing and mental health support contributes to these priorities by helping to resolve such issues which can get in the way of doing well at school and leading a happy life.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“It’s vital that we recognise how important a child’s emotional well being and mental health are for their education and development.

“Schools are well-placed to spot difficulties as they arise but sometimes in the past staff have felt they lacked the expertise to deal with emotional and mental health issues and referrals for specialist help could take time.

“The beauty of this project is that it gives school staff the skills and support to deal with many of the issues themselves but specialist mental health professionals are also available so children who need this help can get it much faster.

“By investing early in these areas and using evidence-based approaches that have been proven to work, we are able not only to improve problems more quickly but to save money in the long term. “

John Lawlor, Chief Executive for NHS Leeds said:
“I’m delighted that we are able to contribute to this extremely valuable resource that will help support the emotional and mental wellbeing of young people in Leeds. We are committed to promoting and protecting the health of young people in Leeds as part of the citywide Children and Young People’s Plan. This project sends a clear message that emotional wellbeing and mental health is a priority for us as it has such a pivotal role in the future development of young people in our city.

“Research clearly demonstrates the value of early intervention services and NHS Leeds has invested in a range of services designed to help people across Leeds experiencing distress. This latest investment illustrates our commitment to supporting anyone in Leeds, regardless of their age, to access support when they need it the most.

“We also hope that this investment will also help staff working in schools to have the confidence to support students as well as making it easier for them to signpost them onto specialised support. “

Case study, Nicola’s story:
Nicola was 13 when things started to go wrong at school and she became very anxious.

Nicola said:
“I did not like school. It was everything about it really. I just didn’t like being there.

“It hadn’t always been like that, but there were a lot of changes all at once. There were new people coming into my friendship group. It had been quite a small group and then it was huge. There wasn’t a big falling out or anything. It was a gradual process.

“At school there were a few teachers that I felt were picking on me and I wasn’t doing so well in my schoolwork.

“I just got anxious and worried and I felt sad all the time. I stopped sleeping at night and then I stopped going to school.”

Nicola’s father Richard said:
“Everything changed quite quickly really within a few weeks. We could see she was really ill and we started to panic.

“The thing was, at first she didn’t want the school to know. I went to my GP and he said there was a 20-week waiting list for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health services so I started to ring round to see what other help was available

“We had a period of extreme frustration and Nicola was also getting concerned about missing too much school.

“Eventually I spoke to the head of year at Nicola’s school and was referred to Gill Bullers who was working in east Leeds as part of the TaMHS service.”

Through TaMHS Nicola had a series of 12 individual counselling sessions with Gill and another 12 group sessions. Gill used different techniques to help Nicola think about how she reacted to different situations and how she could think about things differently. Gill also worked with Nicola’s Mum and Dad to help them deal with their own anxieties about Nicola. At first the work was very intense but bit by bit Nicola got back on top of her schoolwork and was eventually able to cope without the extra help even though she faced other challenges, like the death of a much loved pet.

Nicola says: “It was hard at first but I’m more confident now. I’m better at speaking in front of people and I’m doing better at school too. If I don’t understand something at school now I will ask. Things have settled down with my friends too and we go out a lot to music festivals and stuff.”

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Green fingered residents scoop garden awards

Green fingered residents in east Leeds have been awarded for producing amazing results in their gardens over the summer.

East North East Homes Leeds, a company that manages council homes in the north and east of the city, have announced the winners of this year’s annual garden competition.

The awards were presented by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor, at a special event at the Ramada Jarvis hotel in Seacroft.

The standard of the competition was again very high and the judges confirmed that it had been a difficult job this year. The prizes were divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze and, with the Gold awards going to the best gardens from each area with an overall Best in Show.

The competition was judged by Sarah Spencer of Leeds City Council’s Parks & Countryside, Ambrose Griffiths British Gas, Mr Ian Grainger ( Estate Services) and four residents - Mr Ian Harvey, Barbara Burns, Ms Julia Rose-Lewis, Mrs J Leite, who had all been previous winners.

There were seven Gold winners, 16 Silver and 26 Bronze awards, Best Vegetable Garden, Best Communal, Best Environmental garden, Best Baskets and Best in Show.

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Reverend Alan Taylor, said:
“It was a wonderful evening and it was excellent to see such a high standard of gardens and commitment by the residents to make their communities brighter.”


Angelena Fixter, Chair of East North East Homes Leeds, said:
“It is fantastic that many of the local residents have got involved with the competition, and produced some fantastic gardens.

“Congratulations to all the winners, and I hope everyone continues to enjoy the beautiful gardens they have created.”

The competition was sponsored by Colour Copy Leeds, British Gas. Skelton Skips, Parks and Countryside, The Flower Factor of Whitkirk & Ramada Jarvis.


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