Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Building Hope for tsunami children as Leeds Sri Lankan centre opens

Leeds City Council's logo alongside that of Colombo Council on the Building Hope gates

It is the culmination of seven years of determination, dedication and a strong will to achieve something selfless and inspirational for disadvantaged children on the opposite side of the world.

After persevering tirelessly through civil war, flooding, the replacing of the entire local council, construction challenges and not least the aftermath of the original devastating tsunami, the Building Hope charity*, administered by Leeds City Council, is proud to announce the completion of its children’s centre in Colombo.

Leeds Lord Mayor Councillor Rev Alan Taylor is paying a short visit to Sri Lanka at the end of February to formally hand over the centre to Colombo Council.

It will be permanent testament to the outstanding generosity of the people of Leeds, who rallied round to give what they could to help in the wake of the overwhelming loss of human life and appalling destruction caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

The Building Hope Children’s Centre, in the district of Kirulapone, will provide valuable support to families. It will include a nursery, library, under-5s playroom, a computer suite, a kitchen, counselling and training areas. There will be a particular focus on nutrition, with lessons for parents and mothers’ health support sessions.

The Sri Lankan capital suffered badly in the earthquake and the subsequent massive sea surge, which sent waves of up to 100ft surging into 14 countries, claiming more than 230,000 lives. It was one of the biggest natural disasters ever and the worst tsunami in history.

Leeds was one of the first cities to rally to join the international aid effort and Leeds City Council immediately launched a public appeal for donations. A decision was taken to build a centre that would be a lasting legacy of the city’s concern long after the emergency agencies had re-focused their attention in other areas in need of disaster support.

By the time the Building Hope- Leeds/Sri Lanka Tsunami Appeal was set up as a charity in March 2005, three months after the Boxing Day disaster, the appeal had already received £40,000 in public donations.

This had risen to £146,000 by seventh anniversary of the tsunami at the end of last year- boosted significantly by a number of Leeds City Council staff who chose to have monthly donations debited from their pay packets.

The council itself donated £100,000 when the appeal was set up. It has worked in partnership with Colombo Council to get the project off the ground and battled through further challenges such as flooding, civil war and many more tests of their determination to see it through.

Building work began in November 2008 and such is the achievement in finally opening the centre that it is understood from partners working in aid agencies in Sri Lanka that it is virtually unheard of for a foreign project of its kind to reach completion.

Coun Rev Alan Taylor, Lord Mayor of Leeds, said:
“The people of Leeds should be very proud of their humanity and what they have achieved. The centre sits in an area where there is abject poverty, where children still run around the streets barefoot, where there are open sewers.

“Sri Lanka has had to overcome the terrible tsunami, a brutal civil war, flooding and other setbacks and we believe this wonderful centre is a great symbol of looking to the future.”

The Honourable AJM Muzammil, Mayor of Colombo, said:
“I am honoured by this opportunity to thank His Lordship the Mayor Cllr Rev Allan Taylor, the staff of the Leeds City Council and the wonderful citizens of Leeds for their immense contribution towards the construction of a child resource centre in Colombo under the Building Hope Project. We will be using this building to serve the underprivileged children of our city of Colombo and have facilitated various activities such as a pre-school, library, art and crafts, classes for mothers, counselling centre, classes in English and mathematics, and outdoor activities too.

“I am truly grateful and hope we can help each other to enhance our cities and further strengthen our sister city ties between Colombo and Leeds.”

John Rankin, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and The Maldives said:
“I am delighted with the opening of the Building Hope children’s centre in Colombo. The centre has been possible through the generosity of the people of Leeds and the close partnership between Leeds City Council and Colombo Municipal Council.

“I know that many obstacles have had to be overcome to complete this project. But I am delighted that it is now up and running. The centre will provide help and opportunities for young people in a supportive environment. I wish it every success.”

Notes to editors:
*Building Hope was formally established as registered charity no 1114083 on 22 March 2005 with the official title Building Hope- Leeds/Sri Lanka Tsunami Appeal. Leeds City Council is the sole trustee.
The centre’s remit is to provide care for children in general, to look after the health needs of physically or mentally disabled children, to advance the education of and provide recreational facilities for children.
A formal agreement was established with Colombo Council on how the funding would be provided and the centre built and Colombo awarded the construction contract.
Under the terms of the agreement Leeds City Council has retained an advisory role on the centre’s steering committee.
A management committee has also been established to oversee day-to-day running of the centre, which will be equipped and fitted out ready for full use over the coming weeks. Colombo Council has formally agreed that the children’s centre will remain open for at least 15 years.
While the formal agreement is between the two councils only, advice and assistance has been given by a number of other organisations such as UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services), Save the Children and Cost Consultancy, a Colombo-based firm of quantity surveyors and cost consultants.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk


Takeaway fined £5k for not having a licence

A takeaway premises in Morley, Leeds has fallen ‘fowl’ of the law and been fined for not having the correct licence.

On Thursday 16 February at Leeds Magistrates Court, one of the owners of Krispy Funky Chicken, Mr Mr Mujeeb Bhutto (33) pleaded guilty to not having the correct licence and was convicted of all five charges. The defendant was fined £1,000 for each offence (£5,000 in total) and ordered to pay costs of £4883.83 and a £15 victims’ surcharge.

On the same date, his brother Mr Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto (31) accepted a formal caution for his part in the offences.

Leeds City Council were made aware that Krispy Funky Chicken, on 5 Fountain Street in Morley was selling hot food past 11pm without a licence after a complaint from a member of the public. On receiving the complaint a warning letter was sent to the owner advising them they must stop selling hot food until they obtain the correct licence.

Enforcement officers from the council’s entertainment licensing section attended the premises and conducted undercover test purchases on five separate occasions after the letter had been sent. On each occasion hot food was purchased by officers. Following the positive test purchases, officers wrote warning letters to the business premises, brothers, Mr Mujeeb Bhutto & Mr Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto informing them of their findings advising them to cease providing late night hot refreshment after 11pm. This was ignored, so the council took the brothers to court.

John Mulcahy, Leeds City Council’s head of licensing said:

“It is not acceptable that any food outlet conducts business without the correct licence.

“Businesses need to make sure they take notice of council advice so as to avoid large fines and to ensure they are operating within the law.

“By making sure these premises apply for a licence, it gives local people the chance to put forward any objections or to raise any concerns.

“The licensing process is designed to give not only the responsible authorities but also local residents the opportunity to raise concerns or support for applications. People who serve late night refreshment after 11pm without a licence are not allowing people to have their say and are breaking the law.”

Note to editors:

Since the 24th November 2005 the provision of late night refreshment between the hours of 11pm and 5am is a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003. Premises providing hot food refreshment during these hours require a Premises Licence or Temporary Event Notice authorising the activity.

A person guilty of an offence of providing unauthorised late night refreshment is liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding £20,000, or to both.


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