Monday, 14 November 2011

Young mayor wants to make Leeds lead the way in keeping healthy

Video caption: Joe Smith reading out his winning manifesto and receiving his award.

A pupil from Strawberry Fields Primary School has been announced as the next Leeds Children’s Mayor

Joe Smith, 10, submitted a manifesto called ‘When It Comes To Keeping Kidz Active - Leeds Leads', which looked at ideas on how to keep children and young people in the city healthy to win the competition.

Joe’s idea of creating ‘kids zones’ in public gyms got the highest number of votes out of the ten manifestos submitted from children across the city. This year, well over 3,000 votes were cast via the Breeze website and Leeds Learning Network.

Joe’s manifesto looked at the idea of installing kids zones in gyms with exactly the same equipment as the adult’s gym but smaller and specially built for the children. Each piece of equipment would have interactive games built in to make keeping fit more fun and to keep kids interested in exercise.

The young finalists met with the Lord Mayor on Thursday 10 November to present their manifestos and to hear the announcement of the winner.

As part of his prize, Joe will accompany the Lord Mayor to the switching on of the Leeds Christmas Lights. He will also have the chance to present his manifesto at a full council meeting in January 2012 amongst many other duties he will be involved with over the next year.

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor said:

“Joe’s submission really took note of a number of key priorities for the city. He has understood the need to look after young people’s health and to keep them interested in maintaining their fitness levels.

“I am sure Joe will enjoy the light switch on tonight, and no doubt take on his mayoral duties extremely well.

“As part of Leeds becoming a child friendly city, Joe will take on an important role as an ambassador for young people across the city.”

Notes to editors:

Previously known as ‘Mayor for a day’, the programme has been so successful in recent years that it was ‘highly commended’ by The Municipal Journal this year and renamed ‘Leeds Children’s Mayor’ as the programme has now been extended to last over a full year.

The competition is organised as part of Local Democracy Week, which is a national initiative to encourage young people to get more involved in local government to understand what it does and how it affects their lives.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Landlords to come together to discuss housing provision for the city

The first ever private landlords conference is being held in Leeds this week.

The conference, organised by Leeds City Council will allow the city’s landlords to discuss the key issues facing landlords and tenants today. They will also explore ways in which they can work together to ensure people have access to good quality, affordable homes

There is huge demand for housing in the city, and it is an area where the private sector will be playing a pivotal role in the future, as their role becomes more important.

One of the main issues facing the city, which will be discussed in detail at the conference, is the large number of empty properties across the city. At the end of 2010/11 there were 15,883 empty properties in the city, which is 4.73% of the city’s housing stock. With over 28,000 people on the council waiting list this an opportunity that cannot be missed.

The conference is taking place at The Carriageworks on Millennium Square on Friday 18 November from 9am and is already fully booked.

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

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for housing will be available for interview at the Carriageworks at 9.30am.
Please call the press office on 0113 2474450 to arrange attendance.
******************** Media opportunity ********************

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods and housing said:
“With demand for housing in the city becoming greater, we need to work with landlords across the city to ensure that we offering good standards of accommodation and can successfully accommodate the demand.

“As a city we do have a number of empty properties, and this is something we need to address by turning them around and being able to move people in sooner rather than later, this will radically help us address the 28,000 people awaiting council housing.

“The housing agenda is an area where we recognise that the private sector will play a pivotal role in the future, particularly in the delivery of new homes, where public investment is likely to be limited.

“Through bringing landlords together it will be an opportunity to discuss best practice and where we can move to in the future.”


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Tweet all about it

The council resumed its winter tweeting service last week, which aims to help keep the public up to date about potentially icy conditions and advise them about plans to grit the city’s roads.

The first tweet of the winter season went out on Monday, 7 November, the same day that the council’s gritting crews were put on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will continue until March 2012.

Updates about weather conditions, potential icy roads and gritting operations were posted on weekdays throughout the winter period last year on the official Leeds City Council and LCC press office Twitter feeds: @leedscc and @lccpressoffice

This will be repeated this year, with updates also being sent out via the council’s official Facebook pages: Leeds City Council and Leeds Council.

Russ Martin, highways maintenance manager for Leeds City Council, said:
“Our aim is to get grit on the roads before ice has the chance to form or before snow starts to fall.

“To help us with this we have access to specialised weather forecasts and thought that the information would be of interest to residents, so they can find out when we will be gritting and if they need to take extra care on the roads.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, executive member for development, said:
“This information provides a really useful insight into when we grit the roads and can help people to plan how they get around the city during the winter months. I hope that lots of people will follow this information, as it can also advise them about when they need to take extra care on the roads during potentially harsh weather conditions.”

Leeds City Council is responsible for keeping 800 miles of roads clear during wintry conditions, as well as city centre footways and other key pedestrian areas across the city.

Like many other local authorities, a primary salting network has been established, which is a network of all the strategically important roads in the Leeds district such as A and B class roads, principal roads, busy commuter routes, bus routes and known trouble spots. This network helps to ensure that access is provided to all the various communities that exist within the Leeds district boundary. In extreme snow conditions there may be short periods of time when access is difficult, but this is generally hours rather than days. Other roads are also salted as long as the main routes are safe and passable, and if wintry conditions persist.

The council has a fleet of 37 gritting trucks, which is on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the beginning of November to late spring. In an average winter the roads are salted 65 times. Snow ploughs are also used. Last year’s severe winter resulted in the crews going out on more than 78 occasions.

Further information on gritting and advice on what to do in severe weather conditions can be found on the council’s website at or by going direct to this link


Notes to editors:

The council produces a winter service plan every year, which includes a full review of the actions taken in the previous winter. This information is then used to modify the plan for the coming winter. Weather conditions are monitored from October so that any warnings of early frosts can be responded to.

Salt (grit) is used to treat roads because it lowers the freezing point of water, making it more difficult for ice to form. However, the salt needs moving traffic to crush it in order to form the salt solution that stops ice forming as easily. Snow ploughs can only be used if snow is deeper than 25 mm (one inch). Salt bins are also provided for residents to make use of in around 900 streets in Leeds.

Leeds City Council has 25,000 tonnes of salt in stock as of 14 November 2011.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Leeds students get in the swing of environmental clean-up campaign

Photo 1: Getting the message out: Cllr Mark Dobson and Victoria Whalley from the environmental team chat to students Alex Gerricsen, left and James Whitty

Photo 2: Sorted: Student Greg Dawes making sure his rubbish is in the bin on time, with Cllr Mark Dobson and Victoria Whalley.

Students in Headingley and Hyde Park have been lending their support to Leeds City’s Council’s six-week environmental clean-up in the area.

The campaign to help improve problems with littering, poor parking and other environmental issues has moved into a phase where council staff have been knocking on doors to educate residents about their responsibilities.

During the course of the campaign officers have met many of the area’s student population and have been getting plenty of positive feedback. Councillor Mark Dobson, the council’s executive member for environmental services, joined the door-knocking exercise on one day recently.

He said:
“We got a great response from the students we spoke to- some of them were already aware of their bin days, some weren’t, but we found that they were keen to do their bit to help improve their neighbourhood.

“The environmental team from the North West area are doing a great job getting the message out about putting bins out on the right days and bringing them back in again. They’ve also been informing people about their responsibilities over litter, parking and other good neighbour issues. We want to make sure that everyone’s clear about what’s expected of them.”

The campaign started a few weeks ago by focussing on the bins belonging to 3,400 households. Addresses were stencilled on them and letters were posted through doors with reminders about how the local environment could be improved.

They included tips on how to get large items picked up for free by the council’s bulky waste collection service, information about local recycling points, how to report littering- which can attract fines of up to £75- and how to park safely and responsibly.

The current phase of knocking on doors to reinforce these messages will be followed by action to hand out fixed penalty or other notices to reinforce the message. There will be follow-up activity in the area throughout the year.

During the build-up to the campaign, plenty of work has been going on over the past few months in the area. Communal bin points are being introduced in areas where space is tight, the probation service has been helping with binyard clearances and a sustained programme of graffiti removal has been taking place.

A variety of partner websites are also being used to host year-round messages to back up the themes of the campaign.

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