Wednesday, 1 February 2012

New venture for council’s architectural design services

Leeds City Council has established a new joint venture company to deliver architectural design services for a range of council construction projects – securing 28 jobs.

The company known as NPS Leeds Ltd, has been set up by the council jointly with NPS Group.

The new joint venture company will be part–owned by the council and managed by NPS, with the council retaining equal control on all major decisions.

The council’s in-house design team will transfer to the new company today (Feb 1st) in a move that will safeguard 28 ‘at risk’ jobs.

In recent years, the council’s in-house architectural design services team has become unsustainable and the formation of the joint venture follows a comprehensive review to identify a solution to deliver the service in the light of the council’s budget pressures.

Working in partnership with LCC, NPS will modernise the service and draw upon expertise across the NPS group to deliver major improvements to the service.

Cllr Richard Lewis, executive member for development and economy, said:
“In the current unprecedented budget situation we need to look at new ways of delivering services that are cost-efficient, sustainable and deliver high quality standards. We have worked closely with staff and the trade unions to find the best way forward for these important services.

"We believe that by forming a joint venture with NPS we have found a solution that will offer better value and deliver an improved service for the future. I am delighted that we have also been able to protect 28 jobs in deciding to deliver services in this way.”

Mike Britch, NPS Group managing director, said:
“This is another positive development for the NPS Group, particularly in these challenging economic times. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Leeds City Council and look forward to welcoming our colleagues from the city into the new joint venture company, NPS Leeds Ltd.

“Our joint venture companies in places from Barnsley to Devon are already delivering results and we are confident NPS Leeds will be the latest such initiative to benefit all concerned.”

The main offices for NPS Leeds Ltd will be at Springwell Road in Leeds City Centre. NPS Leeds will provide a multi-disciplinary design service including architecture, landscape architecture, quantity surveying, building surveying, mechanical & engineering, interior design, quality inspection and other services currently undertaken in-house at Leeds City Council. Services will also be available for external clients.



Notes for Editors

NPS is a national organisation, delivering a comprehensive and flexible range of property services, tailored to meet the needs of both public and private sector clients across the UK. The companies within NPS Group are wholly owned by the public sector, with partner authorities enjoying a share in the companies’ success. The business is directed by Mike Britch from a head office in Norwich, supported by a team of strategic managers with group-wide responsibility. Client services are managed and delivered from a network of local offices.

For further information contact:

Annie Goodyear
Senior Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
0113 2243937

annie.goodyear@leeds.gov.uk

A dignified approach to care in Leeds

Dignity Action Day (1 February) is a good time to reflect on the way that standards of dignity and respect within residential care and nursing homes in Leeds are being protected and maintained.

Everyone, both young and old, is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect; and everybody involved in care services in the city has a responsibility to make sure that this happens. When the care of vulnerable people becomes task driven rather than person-centred, this ideal has failed.

Leeds City Council, in partnership with the NHS and local older people, developed its Dignity in Care campaign in 2007. This acted as a commitment from both organisations to make sure that dignity and respect continue to be embedded in every element of their work.

The campaign was recognised with a national award in 2008, and a key part of its success is the work of a specially recruited group of older volunteers, who go into residential and nursing homes in the area to talk to residents about how they feel about the care they receive and the way they are treated.

The specially trained dignity team visit both private and public sector homes to carry out dignity audits with elderly residents. The information they get is then used to improve standards of dignity and respect within the home being audited, and improve quality of care across the whole service.

Two of the volunteers, Margaret Bell and Margaret Forth were recently shadowed by Councillor Lucinda Yeadon. They said:
“Both Margaret and I feel we make a valuable contribution to the lives of people in care and hope that what we do helps to improve services to those who have to live in care homes.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member for adult health and social care said:
“Our dignity champions do a really valuable job. They sit down and talk to older people on a really informal and personal level, and because they are of a similar age they are trusted and able to get a good feel for how people are being treated and whether they are happy with the level of dignity and respect that is being given to them.

“We are 100% committed to giving older people more say in how their care is delivered, in how their dignity and privacy are respected and to making sure that we help them have a voice if they are not happy with the service they receive,

“The Dignity in Care campaign is pioneering work, which has been acknowledged nationally by the Department of Health and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. I am confident that it is helping us to improve the lives of older people living in care homes in our city.”

Dignity champions are older volunteers that are trained to carry out audits in care homes. This includes learning about the role of care homes and why dignity is so important, as well as getting training on such things as talking to people with dementia and speech difficulties. They visit care homes unannounced to observe personalised care, talk with residents, staff and managers and note how services are being delivered showing dignity and respect for older people.

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For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Review of homeless facilities in Leeds

A review of needs and demands for homeless services in Leeds has been carried out resulting in a change to the facilities that the council will offer in the future.

Over the last three years there has been an increase in the number of people accessing housing advice and making enquiries to the council. However there has been a proactive approach to preventing homelessness and avoiding the need for people to go into temporary accommodation.

For example the Council works hard to secure tenancies for people in the private sector and uses a range of prevention initiatives to assist people to remain in their own homes. The demand for temporary accommodation has significantly reduced in the last few years.

Through consultation with people using homeless services in Leeds we have found that they have expressed a preference for self contained accommodation rather than using a hostel service.

As part of the change to homeless services in Leeds, Ladybeck House Hostel, located in the Eastgate area of the city, which provides short term emergency housing to single people and childless couples, will close on 4 March 2012. Although this hostel, like other hostels is able to provide short term housing, it does not help the person in the longer term, and is no longer fit for purpose.

As the time comes for the hostel to close, there will be a gradual reduction in the number of admissions, and arrangements have been put in place through increasing the capacity of our alternative service which provides furnished self contained accommodation for singles and families.


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

“The feedback we have had from people using our homeless services clearly tells us that our services need to be more flexible and better able to respond to a broad range of needs.

“Hostels are no longer a popular option. Although they can often solve an immediate housing need, people feel that temporary self contained accommodation is a more preferable option and has a better, longer term outcome.

“It is for this reason that we have decided to close Ladybeck Hostel, along with a gradual reduction in hostels across Leeds in the future. We will ensure that there are still direct access hostel services available for people who do still wish to use these services within the city, but are seeking to move to a more effective way of offering homeless services in Leeds.”

For anyone wanting advice on housing and homelessness, please call the Leeds Housing Options Service on 0113 222 4412



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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