Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Matt ready to add gloss as Leeds starts the Christmas party

Caption: 'The Soldiers' (top image) will be joining X Factor winner Matt Cardle in performing at the Leeds Lights Switch-On

X-Factor winner Matt Cardle will be top of the bill as he joins sports stars and a host of entertainers at the Leeds Lights Switch-On this week.

The winner of the ITV talent show last year will be the headline performer at the free annual event which takes place at Victoria Gardens from 6:45pm on Thursday 10 November as Leeds begins the run-up to Christmas.

Matt will be joined on stage by stars from Leeds United, Superleague Champions Leeds Rhinos as well as The Soldiers, Glee tribute act The Gleeks plus the stars of Carriageworks pantomime ‘Beauty and the Beast’, Breeze Has Talent 2011 winner Francesca Pidgeon and Santa’s Showtime.

Organised by Leeds City Council and Real Radio with support from the Yorkshire Evening Post, the annual family event which attracts approximately 15,000 people is seen as the start of the Christmas shopping season in Leeds, with the finale of the show seeing the switch flicked to turn on one of the largest festive illuminations in the UK – covering over 15 miles around the city centre.

The night will be hosted by Real Radio presenters including Real Breakfast’s Dixie and Gayle, with all the performers and guests coming together on stage for the finale which will be marked with a spectacular fireworks display.

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson will be making an appearance along with first-team captain Jonny Howson and Adam Clayton plus mascot Lucas the Kop Cat. Fresh from their stunning Grand Final success, Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott will be joined by stars Ian Kirke and Chris Clarkson as well as new signing Richard Moore, while Ronnie the Rhino will be proudly showing off the Superleague trophy.

The armed forces will also be in attendance with a performance by The Soldiers - Sergeant Major Gary Chilton, Staff Sergeant Richie Maddocks and Lance Corporal Ryan Idzi – who joined with Bee Gees legend Robin Gibb to sing this year’s official Poppy Appeal Single ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You’.

The performing arts are also represented in the show, with singing star Denise Nolan and CBBC’s Jez Edwards appearing ahead of their run at The Carriageworks over Christmas in the pantomime Beauty and the Beast.

Hit TV show Glee will feature with a tribute performance by The Gleeks including a rendition of Journey's chart favourite 'Don't Stop Believing', while Santa’s Showtime will include an interactive singalong opportunity as well as a guest appearance by original Black Lace band member Dene Michael.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor will be among the guests of honour, joined by the winner of this year’s Leeds Children's Mayor competition.

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

“This year’s lights switch-on should be a really fun event with a wide variety of guests appearing and performing on stage and we are sure the people of Leeds will give Matt Cardle a fantastic welcome. The show is sure to get everyone into the Christmas spirit so we look forward to seeing lots of families and thousands of people enjoying the festivities on Victoria Gardens.”

Managing Director for Real Radio Yorkshire Steve South said:

“Once again, we have a fantastic line-up for this, the biggest Christmas lights switch-on outside of London. We are looking forward to welcoming families from not only across Leeds but those who travel in from around Yorkshire and use this event to sample what the city of Leeds has to offer. Matt Cardle is a brilliant performer and this is sure to be a night to remember.”

For more information on the event, including travel and road closure details, go to www.leeds.gov.uk/switchon or call the council’s events team on 0113 395 0891.


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

Latest annual assessment shows big improvements in Leeds children’s services

Considerable improvements across children’s services in Leeds over the past year have been recognised in the latest annual performance assessment published today (Tuesday 8th November) by government inspectors.

Ofsted’s Annual Performance Assessment for 2010/11 rates Leeds City Council’s children’s services as performing ‘adequately’, an improvement from 2010 when Leeds was rated as ‘performs poorly’.

The rating is based on performance and inspections across the whole range of children’s services in Leeds, including schools, children’s centres, services for vulnerable children and the Youth Offending Service. Ofsted has highlighted that the majority of children’s services they have inspected are good or better, but have also drawn attention to areas where further improvement is needed.

This annual assessment builds on the improvements highlighted in several government inspections carried out over the past year. These include an unannounced inspection of child protection arrangements which took place in January and highlighted ‘remarkable and impressive’ improvements and a re-inspection of safeguarding services in October that judged Leeds as having good capacity to keep improving.

This year’s assessment highlights that ‘The majority of services, settings and institutions inspected by Ofsted are good or better. The very large majority of provision supports children and young people well in staying say and the large majority helps them to enjoy their learning’.

It goes on to say that Leeds children’s service’s strengths include:
• Arrangements to ensure children are safeguarded are now secure;
• Leadership and management were judged to be good;
• Most early years and childcare provision is good or better, and;
• The council has been effective in bringing about improvements in schools previously not performing well.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“It is great news that Ofsted has recognised the significant improvements made across children’s services in Leeds over the past year, which is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff and managers.

“We are proud of what has been achieved, but equally we’re not satisfied with being adequate and want to keep improving. An important part of doing that will be to give children and young people in Leeds a stronger voice. We want ensure they have every possible opportunity to help shape the future direction of our services as we head towards our goal of becoming a Child Friendly City.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services said:“This rating is further evidence that children’s services in Leeds are moving in the right direction, it builds on several other positive inspections this year that show the improvements staff have made in keeping our children and young people safe and giving them the skills and support they need to achieve their goals.

The annual assessment looks across the full range of services that Ofsted inspect so it is particularly pleasing that they have highlighted good progress in many different areas of our work.

“We know we have more to do and we’re continuing to implement some important changes across the city so we can respond more effectively to the needs of children and families. This will enable us to address the areas for further development highlighted in the assessment.”

Amongst the children’s services and settings inspected by Ofsted in Leeds this year there have been some extremely positive outcomes, including outstanding ratings for Robin Hood Primary School, Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School and Wigton Moor Primary School, as well as for Chapeltown Children’s Centre and Seacroft Children’s Centre. The council’s fostering and adoption services were rated as ‘good’ earlier this year and the Youth Offending service received very strong feedback.

The annual assessment also acknowledges that the very large majority of special schools in Leeds are good or better. It recognises that the number of young people from low-income families achieving qualifications at age 16 and 19 has improved well, which was an area for development in last year’s assessment.

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

Leeds tributes to service men and women

Leeds will be remembering service men and women who have lost their lives in conflict.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor will be joined by Vice Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff, civic leaders and guests as he lays a wreath at the cenotaph in Victoria Gardens on Friday 11 November at 11am.

There will be a further civic observation on Sunday 13 November, where a procession will leave Civic Hall at 10.45am and finish at Victoria Gardens where a number of wreaths will be laid to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.

The wreaths will commemorate lives lost in wars since World War One, including World War Two, the Falklands, the two Gulf Wars, and conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

At 11am there will be two minutes silence after which a bugler will sound the Last Post.

After the service the Lord Mayor and civic representatives will proceed to the front of the Town Hall where a salute and march past will take place.

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor said:

“Remembrance Sunday is a time to reflect upon and remember those who have been killed in conflict since World War I and the sacrifices they made for us.

“It is important to remember those who have lost their lives in battle. On occasions like this we stand shoulder to shoulder and remember how brave our service men and women are.”

Notes to editors

There will be various event happening across the region, organised by the British Legion and all commemorating those fallen in conflict. For details of local services contact the Royal British Legion on 0113 256 4477.


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

Leeds Arena: massive steel beam takes centre stage

The biggest support act for the Leeds Arena arrives today and it’s not a rock band but a 180 tonne, 45 meter long proscenium steel beam which will take pride of place supporting the main stage.

The beam is the heaviest piece of steel in the entire arena building, providing stability to a complex steel structure involving 3,500 tonnes of steel, which would stretch for 24 miles from Leeds to York if laid out flat.

It will take two cranes each weighing 500 tonnes to lift it into place. Once it is lifted 12 people will work throughout the night and for around 36 consecutive hours to hoist it into place.

Fixing the proscenium beam is an important milestone in the £60m Leeds Arena construction project as it signifies that work to build the 13,500 capacity concert and events venue continues apace and to programme in time for the opening in 2013.

A peek at the city centre site’s public viewing platform at Clay Pit Lane reveals a hive of activity. The foundations and two main staircases are now in place along with a lift shaft and two concrete core structures, together offering an exciting glimpse of what the building will look like when complete.

At any one time up to now, 75 men and women are working on the site, school visits are a frequent occurrence and opportunities are now becoming available for local people to benefit from apprenticeships and job opportunities at the site.

Gordon Alexander, the BAM Construction Manager for the Leeds Arena, said:

“The proscenium beam is a crucial part of the whole structure of the Leeds Arena and an important milestone in the scheme as this is when the building really starts to take shape. Once in place it will create the archway for the stage and support the entire roof structure.

“Getting the beam in place at this stage is also an indication that construction is progressing as planned and to programme which is great news.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member responsible for city development, said:

“This is a very exciting milestone for the Leeds Arena development and it is great news that progress is steaming ahead as planned.

“The arena is a hugely important construction project for Leeds – it is estimated to bring an additional one million visitors to the city and add around £25.5m per year to the city’s economy.

“It is already playing a catalytic part in the wider regeneration of the city centre as further investment and developments are brought forward linked to the arena. All of this helps to take Leeds up a league and plays an important contribution to ensuring the city is in a strong economic position to recover from the current economic climate.”

John Sutherland, managing director and senior vice president for the Leeds Arena operators SMG Europe, said:

“Now that we have reached this significant milestone we look forward to the construction schedule really starting to accelerate ahead of the handover in 2013.

It’s still a little too early to announce any events but we have been extremely encouraged by the excitement this project is generating within the live entertainment industry.”

The Leeds Arena will be a unique theatre style venue with all seats facing the performance area each with perfect sight-lines. Spectators will be much closer to the stage than other traditional bowl venues. The external design is a stunning honeycomb design of lights that can change colour to reflect the mood of the arena event at the time.

Notes to editors

1. The term ‘proscenium’ is a Latin term which refers to the part of a stage in front of the curtain.
2. BAM is part of Royal BAM Group. Royal BAM has a strong pedigree in large prestige buildings and is a key contractor behind two of this year’s stadiums in the FIFA World Cup – including Soccer City, home to the FIFA World Cup Final. They also led on a £9.2m refurbishment of the Leeds City Varieties theatre and previously constructed the award-winning Leeds Metropolitan University building, the Rose Bowl.
3. SMG Europe is operator for the Leeds Arena. SMG is the largest operator of sports and entertainment venues in Europe, including Manchester Evening News Arena and Bridgewater Hall, the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, and Oslo Spektrum. SMG has considerable industry knowledge and has largely defined the optimum internal design of the arena.
For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.