Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Young people to make their voices heard on culture, sport and recreation

A Leeds City Council watchdog has called upon a group of young people to help them decide how best to involve them in making decisions on the future of sport, culture and recreation services across the city.

To make sure children and young people from across the city are more involved in developing, designing, and improving leisure services in Leeds, a group of youngsters have been invited to talk about their experiences in being involved in past and ongoing projects.

The youngsters will be talking to members of the council’s scrutiny board for sustainable economy and culture, tomorrow (Thursday 23 February), to help them plan for how young people can be best involved in future projects.

Two pupils, aged 8 and 10, from Colton Primary School will be the youngest members of the delegation, who will talk to the members of the scrutiny board about the part they played to help design a new playground for children with disabilities, at Temple Newsam. They will be joined by teenagers from the Breeze Sports Academy - an alternative curriculum programme, which gives young people the opportunity to work towards sports related vocational qualifications and supports them into further training and employment.

Also attending the meeting will be an active voluntary member of the Leeds Disability Sport Youth Panel who will discuss her part in the ‘Inspire Mark’ project which allows young people the chance to develop and shape disability sport in the city. A perspective on young people’s access to the arts will be presented by two young people from LS Live (an online podcast network created by young people), who have received training and notched up two years experience as reporters covering events in Leeds including, Light Night, Breeze on Tour and Party in the Park.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, chair of the Scrutiny Board, sustainable economy and culture, said:
“We have invited these young people to attend our meeting so we can hear first hand their experiences of being involved with ongoing projects, and their thoughts on existing services in the city.

“As a council we have an aim, not only to be the best city, but to specifically be a child friendly city, and the only way we can do this is by listening to and learning from the children and young people who live here.

“By hearing how we already engage with young people will help us learn and develop a plan to make sure we involve them in all future projects which will impact on children and young people right from the start.”

The board will also be considering a new vision for the future of Breeze – the council’s brand for all out of school activity for young people in the city. They will look at proposals to reorganise the staffing and funding of Breeze, including sponsorship opportunities, to help improve and expand the already popular provision.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Leeds City Council announces scheme to offer deposit deals for first-time buyers

Leeds City Council has today announced it will be joining a groundbreaking scheme to help first-time buyers secure mortgages.

As part of the annual council budget which was today approved by a meeting of the full council in Civic Hall, Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield outlined the intention for Leeds to join the Local Authority Mortgage Scheme which will see the council underwrite up to four-fifths of the 25 per cent deposit needed to help buyers secure their first homes.

The scheme would be open to anyone in the city looking to buy their first property valued at a maximum of approximately £160,000, with the council support aimed at those who would be able to afford monthly mortgage repayments but who are unable to put down the full initial deposit required, which is currently set at around 25 per cent by most lenders.

Under the scheme, the council would offer to underwrite up to four-fifths of the 25 per cent deposit needed with the buyer supplying the other one-fifth and then being able to benefit from similar repayment terms to a 75 per cent mortgage.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“Everyone is aware that the housing market in the current financial climate is really struggling and a key reason for that is how difficult it now is for first-time buyers to get on the first rung of the property ladder.

“One of the major obstacles for first-time buyers is the need to find a deposit of up to 25 per cent which is proving increasingly prohibitive, so this is where we can help by offering them the chance to reduce the lump-sum they need put down to a much more manageable level which will make the whole process more attractive.”

The council has set aside a total of £2 million for the scheme for an initial five-year period, with a lender to be selected shortly who will offer a competitive rate of interest on the sums deposited.

The idea behind the scheme, which was piloted by 11 other local authorities last year, is to provide a boost to the housing market which in the current financial climate sees the average age of a first-time buyer in Leeds standing at around 37-years-old and properties remaining unsold on the market for increasing lengths of time.

It is estimated that each purchase in the existing property market unlocks up to five more transactions in housing ‘chains’, resulting in significant gains to the local economy by helping make extra work for associated businesses such as estate agents, removals firms and in construction or refurbishment.

If the £2m total council outlay was split in half and used to indemnify deposits for properties worth £160,000 and £120,000, it would help trigger an estimated 365 house purchases in the upward ‘chain’ helping people move home and also bring major benefits within the housing and associated industries.

The scheme fits with Leeds City Council’s new ‘civic enterprise’ approach by looking at new ways of working, utilising new ideas and closer ties with businesses in the city to improve services and deliver better standards of living for residents.

Councillor Wakefield added:

“This scheme has already proven successful in other areas, and the associated benefits it brings to the local economy through allowing other people to move and increasing work to businesses within the housing industry would provide a big boost to the local Leeds economy through secondary and additional spending.

”It is a really good example of civic enterprise in action as a new idea which through working closer with business can help make a big difference to people’s lives as well as benefiting the city’s economy as whole.”

An important element of the scheme is that anyone wishing to make use of it must meet strict criteria set down by the mortgage lender to protect all parties from the problem of ‘sub-prime’ mortgage lending which was one of the main causes of the worldwide economic recession.

Councillor Wakefield added:

“In no way should this be seen as the council gambling money away like in the sub-prime culture lending to people who were unsuitable in terms of the mortgage repayments they could realistically afford to make. We want to make it clear that everyone who applies will have to prove they have the financial means to meet the repayments before any agreement is signed.

“The key point of the scheme is to help those who are ready to get on the property ladder but are unable to find the deposit necessary to do so, and we look forward to helping lots of people make their dream of owning their first home come true.”

The scheme is to be discussed by senior councillors at the next executive board meeting on Wednesday 7 March, with a lending partner then to be announced and the first deals expected to be offered to potential buyers later this year.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Visitors flock to Leeds City Museum for a trip to ancient Egypt

Caption: The ancient Egypt exhibition featuring objects such as this statue of Pharaoh Ramses II is proving a big hit at Leeds City Museum

The new exhibition devoted to ancient Egypt at Leeds City Museum enjoyed a stunning first week with almost 20,000 people flocking to see it.

The touring exhibition entitled ‘Pharaoh: King of Egypt’ showcasing over 130 objects from the British Museum collection attracted almost four thousands visitors in its opening weekend before rising to 17,000 by the end of the first week.

Those figures are the highest first-week numbers of any exhibition held at the museum off Millennium Square in its history and second-only to the official opening of the visitor attraction off Millennium Square itself in September 2008.

As a measure of the phenomenal interest in the new exhibition, which is free to enter and is the first of its kind to be on display in the central Leeds Arena, the visitors numbers were up by 63 per cent compared to the corresponding half-term week last year.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“We knew people were going to love the ancient Egypt exhibition, but we weren’t expecting it to be as popular as that! Seeing the exhibition and the museum absolutely swamped with people keen to get in was fantastic and has been a great reward for all the hard work by the team at Leeds City Museum and our colleagues at the British Museum who were responsible for bringing it here.

“From the feedback we have been receiving it is really capturing the imagination of everyone who visits so for those who have not seen it yet make sure you do as it really is a wonderful exhibition that you don’t want to miss.”

Developed by the British Museum in partnership with the Great North Museum, the exhibition explores the lives of the pharaohs and their role as head of state, chief priest and army commanders through objects and artefacts spanning over 3,000 years of history including stunning palace decorations, sculpture, jewellery and papyri.

Among the objects on display are a wonderfully-preserved standing wooden tomb guardian, a 3,000-year-old wooden bed and a small parchment which is the oldest item dating back five thousand years.

The exhibition is free to enter and features audio-visual displays, interactives and family trails. It also complements the famous ‘Leeds Mummy’ Nesyamun, who is on permanent display in the ‘Ancient Worlds’ section of the museum.

Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor said:

“These astonishing visitor numbers show that Ancient Egypt holds an enduring fascination. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such an extraordinary Egyptian collection in Leeds City Museum.”

Pharaoh: King of Egypt runs at Leeds City Museum until Sunday 17 June 2012. For the latest information visit or to find out more about Leeds City Museum, visit the website at

Notes to editors:

• Pharaoh: King of Egypt is supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation.

• The tour is organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK scheme. Partnership UK is the strategic framework for the British Museum’s programme of engagement with audiences throughout the country.

• The British Museum recently worked with Leeds Museums at Lotherton Hall with the exhibition ‘Warriors of the Plains’ in summer 2011.

• As well as Leeds City Museum, the exhibition is also visiting: Great North Museum: Hancock, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

• The Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian objects outside Egypt, which illustrate every aspect of the cultures of the Nile Valley, from the Neolithic period (about 10,000 BC) until the twelfth century AD.

For further information on the British Museum please contact: or call 020 7323 8394.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Get teenage kicks at Leeds Young People’s Film Festival

Caption: 'Tales of the Night' (top image) and 'On the Sly' will be two of the feature screenings at this year's Leeds Young People's Film Festival

The Leeds Young People’s Film Festival is preparing to celebrate a milestone birthday next month as it officially becomes a teenager.

The annual event organised by Leeds City Council and MediaFish will enjoy its 13th edition from Monday 26 March to Thursday 5 April with more than 30 screenings of must-see attractions and independent gems from around the world being shown at Hyde Park Picture House, as well as selected venues across the city including the giant screen in Leeds Town Hall.

To mark the event turning thirteen, the theme of this year’s festival is to celebrate what it’s like to become a teenager. As such, a major new addition for this year is a new competition being held for the first time to attract the finest young filmmakers in the country.

Named the INDIs (for independent directors), the new competition is a celebration of the talents of independent filmmakers under the age of 25 and is now open to submissions in four age ranges: up to 10 years old, 11-14, 15-19 and 20-25. Each category winner will receive £150, while the overall winner will be presented with the Film and Video Institute Award (IAC) for the best independent film and a cash prize of £250 towards their next film. The deadline for submissions is Friday 2nd March 2012 and more information is available at

To complement this national award, another exciting new filmmaking award on offer this year is the Leeds Young Filmmakers Golden Owls Awards, presented by Leeds Young Film Network, celebrating the city’s young filmmaking talent. Open to all young people aged 3-19 who live in Leeds, it will feature an Oscars-style awards ceremony to be held at Leeds Town Hall.

Full details of the film festival programme will be announced in the coming weeks but among the highlights will be a special preview of ‘We Are Poets’, a film following a group of Leeds teenagers on a visit to Washington DC to represent the UK in the world’s largest poetry slam competition.

Other major screenings include fantasy animation ‘Tales of the Night’ from celebrated director Michel Ocelot (The Princes’ Quest), the multi-award winning film ‘On the Sly’ about a six-year-old girl and her adventures in the woods, ‘The Crocodiles: All for One’ the sequel to last year’s audience winning film about a daring jailbreak, and ‘Capelito the Magic Mushroom’ a family-friendly animated series about a mushroom with special powers.

There will also be days dedicated to family viewing, science fiction with actual science, young filmmakers as well as animations, short films, workshops and talks by industry professionals.

Director of Leeds Young People’s Film Festival Debbie Maturi said:

“We are so excited by the sheer range and quality of this year’s programme and can’t wait to welcome audiences to our 13th edition. There’s a wealth of activity for all the family and it’s fantastic value too. If you’re looking for things to do this Easter, at Leeds Young People’s Film Festival you can keep the whole family entertained with a Family Film Passport from just £25.”

Family Film Passports are available from Friday for the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival through and City Centre Box Office at The Carriageworks.

Notes to editors:

Leeds Young People's Film Festival is presented by MediaFish and Leeds City Council. MediaFish is a cooperative of young people aged 14 - 19 from Leeds that is facilitated by Leeds Young Film. MediaFish are involved in the organisation, programme and marketing of the Leeds Young People's Film Festival and provide a variety of film screenings, workshops and masterclasses for all ages year round.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Eey-aww as newborn donkey makes history at Home Farm

Caption: The newborn foal, and pictured with her mother Maria

A small bundle of history was made at Temple Newsam’s Home Farm last week with the arrival of the first-ever newborn donkey at the popular visitor attraction.

A distinctive female white foal was born on Valentine’s Day (February 14) to a mother named Maria who has been at the Leeds City Council-managed farm for the last three years.

The foal is the first donkey ever to be born at Home Farm, with the newcomer taking after her father a white donkey stallion named Arthur who stayed on the farm for a spell last year. The new arrival came as a major surprise to farm staff, who were not aware Maria was pregnant until she suddenly gained weight a month ago.

The newborn can now be seen on the farm, with a competition to be run to give her a name with visitors welcome to offer their suggestions. The foal joins a host of other newborn lambs, piglets and calves on the farm as lambing season gets into full-swing in the run-up to Easter.

Temple Newsam estate manager Maria Akers said:

“The newborn foal caught us by surprise a bit but now she is here she is absolutely beautiful and is giving the lambs a real run for their money in the cuteness stakes. The fact she is pure white means she really stands out and it would be great for lots of visitors to come up and say hello and help us find the perfect name for her.”

For further information on Home Farm, visit or call 0113 264 5535.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472