Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Leeds City Council sets out budget proposals for next year

A promise to drive forward economic growth across the city – that’s the message from the leader of Leeds City Council faced with having to deliver another £55million in savings for next year’s budget.

The proposals for the council’s 2012/13 budget are published today in a report for the council’s executive board which meets next Wednesday, 14 December.

The £55million savings for this year are in addition to the £90 million of cuts the council had to make in 2011/12. Rising adult social care costs, increased numbers of looked-after children, landfill tax bills, fuel and energy prices and inflation are the major budget pressures.

The report warns that it remains a challenge to maintain services at their current level and in the context of further reductions in Government grants.

It says that working with businesses to lever in greater investment in the city and forming innovative partnerships with business and voluntary organisations will be key to meeting these service challenges in the future.

Vulnerable children and adults will once again take the greatest share of the council’s spend and resources will be focused as much as possible on front line services.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“The role of councils is fundamentally changing and this budget reflects that. Leeds City Council simply cannot afford to be the conventional service provider we have always been. We need to be driving economic growth, so that local people, especially our young people, have real opportunities to fulfil their potential.

“The scale of the challenge we face is massive. Government funding is being slashed at the same time that demand for services is rapidly increasing. We had nearly 30,000 referrals to children’s services last year, we have an aging population and a population with rising expectations of the care they will receive when they need it.

“We are continuing to prioritise funding for our elderly and our young people, but we also need to ensure we are securing investment and developing partnerships that will deliver jobs and homes. Help is simply not going to come from the Government so it vital we take action here in Leeds to make those ambitions a reality.

“The only way we will really find innovative ways to make the most of rapidly reducing funding is by changing the way we ourselves do business. That is why this budget places much more emphasis on working with our partners in the voluntary and private sectors, as well as encouraging closer working between different council departments.”

The report recommends accepting the Government’s offer of a grant to allow a council tax freeze next year but the savings required the following year will be greater if the Government does not make the grant available in 2013/14.

In addition, while the £55m savings are needed to balance the books for the year 2012/13, the council anticipates the need to save a further £43m the following year, 2013/14.

The key areas of the initial budget proposals include:
• Funding boost for adult and children’s social care to the tune of £22m, to include early intervention work in children’s social care.
• Further efficiency savings due to collaborative working.
• Housing associations to contribute towards the cost of disabled facilities.
• The delivery of 350 affordable homes in the city.
• To support innovation and economic efficiencies in the city, a £15m boost to projects which reduce carbon emissions in the city.
• Continued investment in the city’s highway network, the council’s housing stock.

The Leeds City Council Initial Budget Proposals report will be presented to the council’s executive board on Wednesday 14 December. A copy of the full report is available at:

http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=102&MId=5233&Ver=4

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For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email sara.hyman@leeds.gov.

Green bins take centre stage in bid to boost recycling rates

A bold new approach to pushing up recycling rates in Leeds even further by over-hauling the city’s waste management arrangements is to be presented to senior councillors next week.

One of the ideas to be examined is a pilot of fortnightly rubbish and recycling collections to encourage people to put more in their green bins and less in the black ones.

With ambitious new targets to divert Leeds’ waste from landfill by vastly improving amounts recycled, a change in emphasis towards emptying green bins more often could be trialled in one part of the city.

A report to Leeds City Council’s executive board recommends a whole range of measures aimed at achieving a new recycling target of 55% by 2016 and as high as 60% in the longer term.

Currently the council’s target is to recycle half of the city’s waste by 2020 and it is on course for this by achieving an average of around 40% so far this year, compared to 22.3% in 2006/7 when existing targets were set.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services for Leeds City Council, said:
“There’s a real public will in Leeds to recycle more and waste less. I get asked a lot why we are spending money on weekly black bin collections instead of on more recycling collections when the city would also save cash on the massive taxes on sending rubbish that can’t be recycled to landfill.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far but we are responding to repeated requests to put more work into pushing up recycling rates even further. Currently our officers are examining a whole range of options, including piloting fortnightly bin collections, to see what might help us achieve this.

“Recycling is good for the city’s environment and its purse. By trialling this in one area we will be able to monitor in detail whether such a system would actually deliver significant recycling increases.”

Alongside the proposed pilot and commitment to increased recycling targets councillors will also be asked to approve an extension of the Rothwell food waste collection scheme for up to a further 6,000 homes, where kitchen waste is placed into handy caddies then decanted into an outside container for kerbside collection.

Statistics presented in the report show that residents on the Rothwell pilot recycle almost double that of Leeds households with standard bin services. They have fortnightly collections of black and green bins, weekly collections of food waste and fortnightly garden waste collections at suitable properties.

In Rothwell an average 135 kg per home was recycled in 2010/11, compared to 76kg for the majority of the city where there are weekly black bin and monthly green bin collections. In parts of Leeds where fortnightly recycling is paired with weekly black bin collections, households recycled 103kg in the year.

Executive board will also be asked to re-affirm the existing aim to roll out food waste collections to suitable households across the city as resources allow. Officers are also requesting approval to examine options for food waste treatment within Leeds. This could include methods such as anaerobic digestion, in which the waste is disposed of by biodegradable methods, producing energy and avoiding emissions from landfill.

Further proposals to help towards achieving the revised recycling rates include widening garden waste collections to remaining suitable properties; increasing the recycling performance at household waste sites and assessing whether even more materials such as glass or textiles should be collected from kerbsides for recycling.

Notes to editors:
The report calls on councillors to re-commit to the existing Integrated Waste Strategy for Leeds, which outlines a vision of a “zero-waste city, whereby we reduce, re-use, recycle and recover value from all waste, waste becomes a resource and no waste is sent to landfill”.
Details about the waste strategy can be found here: Future of Leeds' waste


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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Local partnerships working together to cut crime

The council’s work with neighbourhood policing teams and other agencies across the city is helping to reduce crime.

Figures for the last three months show that burglary levels in the city are down by almost 400 offences compared with the same period last year.

Tackling burglary is still a top priority though especially as each year when the nights become darker there is an increased risk of burglary. Work is being carried out to help people with ideas of how to keep their home safe and deter burglars.

In Armley the number of offences has dropped by 30% compared with the same time last year. This is due to a number of operations which have happened over the last few months including visits to local cash converter shops by the police and guidance to local scrap metal dealers to help deter them from purchasing stolen metal. A large number of properties have had increased security measures put in place and also have been visited by the police to check security standards and get advice about keeping doors and windows locked.

A recent car inspection operation in the Armley, Bramley and Kirkstall area saw 13 tickets awarded for no insurance, 15 tickets for vehicle defects, and two cars seized, amongst a number of drug searches.

In Kirkstall, two action days have been held, including the police and council officers working with the community to provide crime prevention advice. These days also included the community payback team cutting back overgrown hedges and clearing litter from rubbish hotspots.

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

“We want to keep partnership action focused on reducing the rate of crime in all areas of the city.

“By ensuring we are working together with a number of agencies we can make more of an impact on persistent problems like burglary and help people to keep themselves and their properties safe.

“Our aim across the city is to reduce the burglary rate. We know we have a high rate in the city and are working very hard with local communities to address the problem, and help people learn how to put simple measures in place to help protect their homes.

Chief Superintendent Dave Oldroyd, Divisional Commander for North West
Leeds and the lead officer for the district on burglary, said:


“We are determined to keep working hard alongside our partner agencies to make
life as difficult as possible for people who think they can get away with committing burglaries in our communities.

“We are pleased to see this reduction in offences but we are not complacent and know we need keep up the pressure by targeting the known offenders that are responsible for most of our burglaries. We will also be continuing our efforts to disrupt the trade in stolen goods.

“At the same time the public have an important part to play in reducing the opportunities for burglars by following simple crime prevention advice, such as leaving a light on when they are out and making sure their doors and windows are locked.”

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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

Hate crime to be tackled in North West Leeds

The number of hate crime incidents in North West Leeds has decreased over the last few months, and a number of events are happening over the next week to continue to ensure all incidences are reported.

A number of organisations are coming together over the next week to deliver over 1600letters to local residents to make them aware of support available.

Leeds City Council in partnership with West Yorkshire police, West North West Homes Leeds, Stop Hate UK and Victim Support will be in a number of areas of north west Leeds from next week.

Hate Crime is illegal. It can be an incident motivated by an offender’s hatred or dislike of any person because of their race, disability, gender identity, religion or sexual orientation.

There are many avenues available for support to people who are the subject of Hate Crime , whether they want to report it anonymously or not. These include the police, Leeds Anti Social Behaviour Tea, Stop Hate UK, West North West Homes and Victim Support.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive council member with responsibility for community safety, said:

“This is a despicable crime, and one that will not be tolerated in our city.

“We are working closely with the police and a number of other agencies to reduce the amount hate crime in the city, and try to stamp it out.

“Not only is it illegal, but if you are the person or people responsible for these incidents, in addition to arrest and fines or Anti Social Behaviour Orders or imprisonment, you could be putting your tenancy at risk and be evicted from your home if you are a council tenant.”

Inspector Mark Wheeler, North West Leeds Division’s lead officer on hate crime, said:

“This awareness campaign is aimed at giving victims of hate crime the confidence to come forward and report incidents knowing they will be taken seriously and helped and supported by ourselves and our partner agencies.

“We treat any reports of hate crime extremely seriously and investigate them to the fullest possible extent with the aim of taking the strongest possible action against those involved. As well as having a damaging impact on the victims themselves, these incidents also affect positive relationships between different sections of our communities and, as such, cannot be tolerated.”

Notes to editors:

You can report incidents to any of the teams listed below on the telephone numbers listed next to them and they will be investigated.

Leeds Anti Social Behaviour Team 222 4402
West North West Homes 0800 915 1113 (Free Phone number from landlines only)
Stop Hate UK 0800 138 1625 (Free Phone number from landlines only)
Victim Support 2772642 (Local) or 020 7268 0200 (National)
West Yorkshire Police 999 for emergency or 101 for non emergency
West Yorkshire Police Hate Crime Co-ordinator Debby Thornes 2414826 / 07921882877
West Yorkshire Police Hate Crime Co-ordinator Kath Hibbert 2053056 / 07921882567




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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