Monday, 7 November 2011

Council puts solar panel project on hold

Due to major changes proposed by the government Leeds City Council has put a major project that would have given its tenants free electricity on hold.

The council was planning to install a minimum of 1,000 solar panel systems on suitable council owned homes, giving tenants free daytime electricity. The project was made possible by the government’s ‘feed-in tariff’ – a payment made for every unit of electricity generated by renewable technology, like solar panels, for 25 years.

Last week however, the government started a consultation on plans to halve the feed-in tariff in December 2011. A much bigger reduction, being made much sooner than an already planned reduction in April 2012.

This means that the council won’t receive the feed-in tariff it expected and it won’t be enough to pay back the project’s funders.

The council’s partners had agreed to buy the solar panels and pay to install and maintain them on suitable council owned homes for the next 25 years. The feed-in tariff was to be used to pay back partners for these costs. Any money left over would have been used in other local projects to make homes more energy efficient.

It was estimated that the project would save tenants around £120 a year on their electricity bills and make a significant dent in the 29% of emissions that come from Leeds’ homes.

Neil Evans, Leeds City Council director for environment and neighbourhoods said:

“The proposals in the government’s consultation means our solar panel project is no longer viable.

“The consultation does mention that the government are considering if more could be done to enable genuine community projects. If this could be applied to our project, we may still be able to go ahead. But this depends on details yet to be announced so we’ve reluctantly put the project on hold indefinitely.”

The council has already written to around 2,900 tenants who live in potentially suitable homes.

Neil continued: “We had begun contacting tenants to ensure that the project would run smoothly and meet the original timescales for feed-in tariffs changing in April 2012.

“As the change is coming much sooner than anyone had anticipated, we now, regrettably, have the task of writing to tenants again to let them know that surveys and installations are not going ahead.

“It’s disappointing to be the bearer of such bad news but we will continue our work to improve energy efficiency in council homes and buildings across the city.”

ENDS

NOTES:

The council was planning to have solar panels installed and registered before March 2012 in order to benefit from the highest feed-in tariff payments available.
• The feed-in tariff for new solar panel systems installed after March 2012 gets less each year.
• The council’s partners were Community Energy Solutions (providing research and technical support) and Empower Community Solar (scheme managers).
• More information on the government’s planned changes can be found at www.decc.gov.uk


Ends

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

Yorkshire children’s heart surgery campaigners to go to Parliament

The campaign to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds is being taken straight to the government this week as a delegation from Yorkshire heads to Westminster.

Campaigners will get the chance to put their case at the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon (November 9) when they are due to meet a cross-party group of MPs and peers from the Yorkshire region.

They will be pushing for Leeds to be retained as one of eight centres nationally offering the surgery to children born with heart defects. Currently these services are provided in 10 areas and a government review is proposing reducing this to six or seven centres.

Leading the delegation on behalf of all the local authorities in the Yorkshire & Humber area will be Councillor Lisa Mulherin from Leeds City Council. She chairs the region’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee, a council-led health watchdog which recently conducted an inquiry into the impact on the region of Leeds losing its children’s heart surgery service.

Note to media:
Interviews will be available with Cllr Mulherin after the delegation has completed its visit. Contact Leeds City Council’s press office (details at end) to arrange. There may also be some limited availability for interviews in advance of the visit.

Accompanying her on the delegation to the House of Commons will be representatives from the local Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Cllr Mulherin said:
“This campaign has complete cross-party, cross-community and cross-regional support from all over the Yorkshire and Humber area. It is pretty much unprecedented in such a diverse area to see people coming together in this way to unite for one cause.

“And what has really brought everyone together is the need to defend the interests of vulnerable children and their families, to ensure that at a time of great hardship for them their plight is not worsened by having to endure much lengthier journey times for surgery, hospital stays and follow-up treatment.”

She and her campaign colleagues are keen to get across how important it is to have services co-located in a major acute hospital, as they are at Leeds General Infirmary, where other support and specialties are available to both the children and to new mothers.

They also want to stress how an area with such a high population density as Yorkshire & Humber- which is home to 5.5 million people- needs to be able to have locally-accessible children’s heart surgery. The Leeds unit is also within a two-hour drive for 14 million people.

Another advantage which the campaigners feel that Leeds has is that it already has an existing strong network across the region for follow-up appointments and treatment in local area hospitals that has been recognised as “very strong” by the review team. This is something which centres awarded the children’s heart surgery status would be expected to set up, to enable follow-up care to be provided closer to home.

A petition launched in the region to support the campaign attracted over 600,000 signatures. An announcement is expected to be made on which centres will remain by decision-makers the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts on December 14th.

The Yorkshire & Humber campaign proposes that children’s heart surgery be located at:
• Leeds General Infirmary
• Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool
• Birmingham Children’s Hospital
• Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
• Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
• Southampton General Hospital
• Two centres in London

The campaign has been taken forward in the light of the findings of the regional joint health overview and scrutiny committee. In preparing its report, the committee took detailed evidence from a variety of sources locally including surgeons and cardiologists, families of patients, councillors, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and MPs. Representatives of the committee also visited the heart surgery unit and questioned decision-makers about how the proposals were drawn up.

The full scrutiny report is available at http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgConvert2Pdf.aspx?ID=9741&T=9

Yorkshire and Humber Joint Health and Overview and Scrutiny Committee members:
Barnsley MBC – Cllr Jen Worton
Bradford MDC – Cllr Mike Gibbons
Calderdale Council – Cllr Ruth Goldthorpe
City of York Council – Cllr Sian Wiseman
Doncaster MBC – Cllr Tony Revill
East Riding of Yorkshire Council – Cllr Barbara Hall
Hull City Council – Cllr Danny Brown
Kirklees Council – Cllr Liz Smaje
Leeds City Council – Cllr Lisa Mulherin (chair)
North East Lincolnshire Council – Cllr Karl Wilson
North Lincolnshire Council – Cllr Jean Bromby
North Yorkshire County Council – Cllr Jim Clark
Rotherham MBC – Cllr Shaukat Ali
Sheffield City Council – Cllr Ian Saunders
Wakefield Council – Cllr Betty Rhodes

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

ENDS

Olympic Torch arrival to set Leeds communities alight

The Leeds communities to be given the honour of welcoming the Olympic Torch on its nationwide journey next summer have been announced today.

The iconic symbol will be travelling through Leeds in late June as it makes its way to London for the start of the world’s biggest sporting event in the capital in July.

***********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY***********************************
All media are invited to a photocall concerning the Olympics announcement at 10:30am on Monday 7 November at the Hamara Centre, Tempest Road, Beeston Hill, LS11 6RD.

The photocall will feature students from South Leeds Academy and pupils from Windmill Primary School, plus an Olympic-themed exhibition produced by the pupils as well as adult members of the community centre and Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Cllr Adam Ogilvie.
***************MEDIA OPPORTUNITY********************************


The Leeds communities announced as having the torch escorted through and carried by chosen torchbearers begin with Boston Spa, Wetherby and Harewood in the north-east of the city on Tuesday 19 June.

The torch then makes its journey across the city on Sunday 24 June travelling through Headingley, Harehills and Richmond Hill before a major overnight celebration event is held. Details of the event are being finalised and will be announced shortly but it is anticipated it will give thousands of people the chance to see the flame arrive with a cauldron being lit as the finale.

The following day the torch resumes its journey through Leeds city centre including passing through Victoria Arcade before a route through Hunslet, Beeston and Morley leads it out of the city.

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

“This is another really exciting day as we announce more details of the Olympic Torch visiting Leeds, which is going to be a fantastic and historic event for our city.

“Aside from the Torchbearers who will have the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of actually carrying the flame, we want this to be a celebration for the whole of Leeds to get involved in, not just for those communities announced today. Everyone will have a chance to see the flame, and we look forward to getting as many people as possible involved to make sure it is a never-to-be-forgotten experience.”

There will be a host of opportunities for schools, community groups and other organisations to get actively involved with the Torch Relay in Leeds and in the wider Leeds Gold programme throughout 2012. For more information contact jon.price@leeds.gov.uk.

The Olympic Torch Relay is being managed by The London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) along with partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. The relay will begin at Land’s End in Cornwall on the morning of Saturday 19 May 2012 after the flame arrives in the UK from Greece the previous day.

The flame will then embark on a 70-day tour of the UK, travelling 8,000 miles 12 hours a day with 66 overnight stops around the country en route to London on July 27 2012 where it will light the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium to officially declare the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In total the Olympic Flame will be carried across the UK by 8,000 inspirational Torchbearers each of whom will have a story of personal achievement and/or contribution to the local community. In December this year, successful nominees will be contacted with a conditional offer and final Torchbearer places will start to be confirmed from February 2012 onwards.

Chair of LOCOG Sebastian Coe said:

“We are thrilled to confirm that Leeds will act as a host location for the Olympic Flame, extending an invitation to people in the city to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay during its journey around the UK. This is the UK’s moment to shine and I want to encourage people to start planning how they can be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and show their support for the inspirational Torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic Flame as we count down to the start of the Olympic Games.”

A new project launched by LOCOG today is an invitation to encourage people of all ages to get involved in celebrations around the Torch Relay and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For more information on the ‘Local Leaders’ initiative visit www.london2012.com/localleaders.

Also launched today is the ‘Get Set for the Olympic Torch Relay’ education resource, available to all schools registered with Get Set, London 2012’s official education programme. The aim of the resource is to provide schools with cross-curricular resources aimed at teachers working with three to 16 year olds to aid learning around history of Olympic Torch Relays, the design of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay and the torch itself.

In Leeds, over 130 schools are already engaged in Olympics project ‘Spirit Alive’, which gives pupils the chance to lead, manage and deliver a mini-Olympic experience in their schools.

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Olympic Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk

Notes to editors:

As the longest standing Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola will be using its heritage and experience to spread excitement across the UK ahead of London 2012. Coca-Cola's national nomination campaign - Future Flames – has focused on finding inspirational young people from across the country to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame. Next summer Coca-Cola will celebrate these Future Flames: young people who use their passions in areas like sport and physical activity, music and dance, and community and the environment; to spread happiness in their local communities. Find out more at: www.coca-cola.co.uk/olympic-games

As the only National Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, Lloyds TSB will be taking the spirit and inspiration of the Olympic Flame right to the heart of communities across the UK. As part of Lloyds Banking Group, Bank of Scotland will be the National Presenting Partner in Scotland. Lloyds TSB will bring the Relay closer to its customers through its branches on practically every high street and its activities in the community, National School Sport Week and Local Heroes. Customers can be the first to hear about exclusive offers, including how they can have the chance to carry the Olympic Flame, through the customer-exclusive programme, Trackside. Find out more at www.lloydstsb/london2012. Schools can be right at the heart of the celebrations through the Flame Followers programme, giving them access to free resources to get their pupils inspired and excited about the Olympic Torch Relay, and the chance for their school to carry the Olympic Flame, win a celebration party at their school during the Relay and win a Cheer Kit to welcome the Relay to their community. Find out more at www.lloydstsb.com/london2012.

As part of its support for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, Samsung is providing a number of the Olympic Torchbearers through its public nomination process. These ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities to carry the Olympic Flame on its journey around the UK, represents one of the many ways that Samsung is enabling people from all corners of the world to be part of the greatest show on Earth. Becoming an Olympic Torchbearer thanks to Samsung means everyone can become a part of the Olympic history. From June 13th 2011, Samsung has invited the world to recognise its unsung heroes. Samsung’s nomination programme for Olympic Torchbearers is a worldwide search for these unique and selfless individuals. The campaign has been communicated globally via a number of marketing channels to ensure that the maximum number of people become aware of the opportunity. It is Samsung’s ambition that London 2012 will be an event that reaches and involves more people than on any other Olympic Games occasion. To learn more about the Samsung nomination programme, please visit www.samsung.com/london2012.

ENDS

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