Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Local government needs you

Individuals and organisations from across the country are being invited to take part in a national debate about the future of local government.

Following the first meeting in Leeds of the new Commission for the Future of Local Government, people are now being asked to submit evidence of how ‘civic enterprise’ can really make a difference across the public and private sector and full range of services.

The commission was set up to consider the role of local government in the 21st century and explore how councils can work with business and the voluntary sector. It is advocating the concept of ‘civic enterprise’, the idea that services built in a partnership between the public, private and third sectors will lead to a better quality of life for local people - but it needs practical examples of how this can work in the real world.

Initiated by Leeds City Council, the Commission for the Future of Local Government brings together representatives from Cardiff and Glasgow city councils, business representatives such as Andrew Murphy from the John Lewis Partnership and Rashik Parmar from IBM and experts such as Lord Laming (author of the Victoria ClimbiƩ Inquiry), Baroness Margaret Eaton (ex-Chair of the Local Government Association) and Lord Adebowale (Chief Executive of third sector organisation, Turning Point). High profile commentators, such as Will Hutton of the Work Foundation are also taking part.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the Commission for the Future of Local Government said:

“Civic spirit and the willingness to put public service or public interest before private concerns is the backbone of a good society.

“To achieve our aim of promoting the idea of civic enterprise, we welcome the general public and professionals and experts from all sectors to come forward with examples of how civic enterprise can work on a practical level.

“We want this commission to be a positive platform for change and to help local government to respond positively to the changes and challenges it is facing.

"Our members are some of this country’s most high-profile people in terms of getting things done. They are a broad range of thinkers and doers from all sectors of society who we hope will offer real insight and innovative ideas for taking this important agenda forward.”

Rashik Parmar, President, IBM Academy of Technology and IBM Distinguished Engineer, said:

“The Commission on the Future of Local Government represents a great opportunity for business to help drive real value for local government and citizens. The commission can help shape this platform where we can create new jobs and capabilities.

“For me, it’s about how we leverage the excellence we have, through the public, private and third sectors combined, in order to enable citizens going forward.”

Any individual or organisation can follow the work of the Commission for the Future of Local Government. Find out more and take part in the discussion by visiting the website: and following @civic_uk on twitter.

Note to editors:

For more information, including a full list of the commission’s membership, please see the website:

The commission can also be contacted via email:

Media enquiries please contact Leeds City Council’s Corporate Communications Team: tel 0113 247 4328 fax: 0113 247 4436 email:

For more news and information from Leeds City Council visit
General enquiries: 0113 222 4444.


Last orders called on empty pub in Cottingley

A pub in south Leeds that has been left vacant since 2009 and has been subject to graffiti is to be demolished.

The Sphinx public house in Cottingley Hall has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour and has suffered many acts of vandalism resulting in major damage over the last two years.

The pub and surrounding land is owned by the council but had been let out on a long lease. In August this year Leeds City Council obtained a court order to repossess the building.

The demolition of The Sphinx, known to many of the locals as The Cottingley Arms, will vastly improve the appearance of the site, and also complement the shops at Cottingley Hall and the land to the side, which have both recently had works completed to improve their appearance

After the demolition, Leeds City Council will seed the area in the short term, and are to work with Aire Valley Homes Leeds and area management to identify funds to extend the landscaping scheme just finished at the back of Cottingley Vale Shopping Centre.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, housing and regeneration said:“This is a good result for all groups concerned. The Tenant’s Residents Association Cottingley (TRAC), Aire Valley Homes and local ward members have been campaigning for this for a long time and this is a great result.

“The removal of this pub will get rid of what has become an eye sore in the area, and also reduce anti-social behaviour around the site.”

Councillor Angela Gabriel, inner south area committee chair said:“I am very pleased that this pub is to be demolished in the near future. It has been the site of antisocial behaviour for the past two years, and it is time that a stop is put on this.

“I know residents in the local area will be pleased to see the empty site demolished, and hopefully we will be able to look into landscaping the site at a later date."


For media enquiries please contact:
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 2474450

Another family home is freed up by local mum

Caption: Ms Sharlotte and her daughter Venitta with dog Lucky.

A lady who lives with her daughter has recently opted to downsize into a brand new council home which has freed up a larger family home for applicants currently on the Leeds Homes Register.

Ms Carol Sharlotte from Armley, has just moved with her daughter Venitta and dog Lucky, from a four – bedroom house into one of six new modern two-bed council properties on Silver Royd Hill in Wortley, which have been built by Leeds City Council’s development partner Keepmoat Homes.

The new houses, which were funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, and will be managed by West North West homes Leeds, feature an enclosed rear garden with a shed, off street parking, and a variety of energy saving features including solar panels and low energy lighting to ensure that the environmental impact of the development and residents running costs are kept to a minimum.

The properties have also offered tenants – such as Ms Sharlotte –an opportunity to move into a smaller and more manageable homes which can – if required- easily be adapted in future years to accommodate any change in needs.

Leeds City Council is currently trying to address the need for more family properties, and has used the new council homes they are delivering in the Pudsey and Wortley areas to give existing tenants the opportunity to downsize from their current home and free up a number of larger homes for families across the city. The council is also working closely with other tenants, currently living in larger properties and not using all the space, to find better, and smaller, alternatives for them in convenient locations.

Carol is very pleased with her new home and said:

“The new house is fantastic, it feels like a home already. I understand the need for bigger houses for families across Leeds, and when the option of a smaller house came along, I thought I would go for it as the new house offers everything myself, my daughter and our dog Lucky need.

“The house is great – there is good sized garden for Lucky and plenty of space for me and Venitta. We are bound to save money on our bills as well, due to the high energy efficiency of the house. This really is a house for life.”

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

“It is excellent that Ms Sharlotte has decided to make the move into a smaller house that better matches the needs of her and her daughter.

“This is an excellent example of how local people are really helping out with the housing options in Leeds, and working with the council to free up family homes.

“A key aim of these three developments across West Leeds has been to free up larger family homes and on this site alone the council have managed to release two four-beds and a one three bed house for applicants on the Leeds Homes Register.”

Leeds City Council has worked in partnership with developer Keepmoat Homes, West North West Homes and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) – which is part funding the venture to deliver 25 two-bed council properties for the over 55s across three sites in west Leeds. The sites include Evelyn Place, Silver Royd Hill and the former Waterloo Road Primary school.

David Ward, regional managing director for Keepmoat Homes Yorkshire, said:

“Our project in Leeds is all about improving the lives of local people and this is a great example of how new homes can make a positive impact to the community. I’m sure Ms Sharlotte, Venitta and Lucky will be very happy in their new property, with a fantastic garden for them all to enjoy and the promise of reduced energy bills.

“The move also guarantees a home for a Leeds family, another step towards meeting the current demand for council homes in the area. We’re pleased to continue supporting our partners in the future.”

Dilys Jones, area manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said:
“It is good to see that these six homes that we have funded are helping to ensure that Leeds City Council can provide local people with the homes that they need in their local community. Our £300,000 investment has been put to good use to improve the choices for local residents.”

Cathy Clelland, from West North West Homes Leeds said:

“West North West homes Leeds greatly appreciates the gesture Ms Sharlotte is making by relocating and downsizing her home. We are delighted to have been able to relocate her to an area that she knows and has family close by. Her new home has been built to a great standard and I am sure she will be very happy there.

“I hope as a result of this success story and others, more tenants can review their living arrangements and if they are able, consider downsizing which can so significantly help other people and families across the city”


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

Santa launches late night shopping in Leeds

The count down to Christmas in Leeds will start on Briggate this week as Santa and his reindeers launch the holiday season.

On Thursday 17 November Santa’s reindeers will arrive in Leeds from 11am and spend the day on Briggate. Santa and his elves will then climb aboard the sleigh at 4.30pm and travel to Leeds Kirkgate Market to open up the official city centre Santa’s Grotto.

The launch will mark the start of the Festive Leeds programme, backed by Leeds City Council and Marketing Leeds. City centre shops, including Kirkgate Market, will open late until 8pm on Thursday nights on the run up to Christmas. Free city centre parking in council parking spaces will also be available on the lead up to Christmas on Thursday evenings from 6pm.

As part a competition with media partners Real Radio for a child to win a ride in Santa’s sleigh, the winner will take a ride with Santa down Briggate and into the market.

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

All media are invited to Kirkgate Market to see the competition winner arrive with Santa to visit the grotto at 5pm. Please call the press office on 0113 24 74450 to arrange attendance.
******************** Media opportunity ********************

On arrival, Santa will be greeted by a very festive looking market, with 4km of festive bunting, a giant Christmas tree on the Open Market and his grotto.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for city development said:
“Now that all the festive lights have been switched on, it really is the countdown to Christmas. The city centre is a great place to shop, and the late night opening on a Thursday will allow people the extra time to stock up on all their Christmas presents.”

As part of the ongoing festivities at the market, there will be a post box available for children to post their letters to Santa up until the 17 December, along with the best dressed stall running up until the 5 December when the winner will be announced. Live entertainment will be provided on Thursday evenings and Saturdays in the form of magicians and stilt walkers.

The Festive Leeds programme starts this week under the banner ‘Yule Love Leeds at Christmas’ with creative craft workshops at Leeds Art Gallery, a White Rose Music Festival at Harewood House from 17th-19th November and a deli market at Kirkstall Abbey on the 26th November. Other events take place throughout the city until January when the Ice Cube comes to Millennium Square. For more details visit

From Wednesday 23 – 26 November a Moroccan market will be available on the outdoor market at Kirkgate market selling everything from spices to materials and clothing.

Leeds city centre is a compact shopping area with seven covered shopping centres. Shopping streets are illuminated with over 15 miles of Christmas decorations with a beautiful Christmas tree on display in city square.

Please visit for more information.

Notes to editors:

People who visit Santa’s Grotto at Kirkgate Market will be given two hours free parking at the NCP Car Park on a Thursday evening between 4 -8pm.