Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bus lane camera scheme could be extended to catch more rogue drivers

Cameras catching drivers sneaking into bus lanes could be installed across Leeds after a city centre scheme reduced offences by more than 80% since it started last summer.

The five cameras have dramatically cut the numbers of drivers illegally ducking into key city centre bus lanes from thousands every day to just over 1,000 a week.

Now Leeds City Council’s executive board is to be asked to approve the expansion of the scheme throughout the city. If agreed, lanes would be examined individually to see if they are suitable.

The proposal to widen the camera coverage across the city has come after analysis of numbers of drivers dodging into the lanes.

A survey conducted before the scheme started revealed 6,146 motorists flouting the law within a week. Since the cameras went live last summer, this has reduced to 1,157 in a week, with indications it may go down further.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development for Leeds City Council, said:
“We are absolutely delighted with how effective the cameras have been in cutting down abuse of bus lanes. They appear to be a real deterrent to drivers illegally dodging traffic queues as these dramatic figures demonstrate.

“Clamping down on rogue motorists clogging up the lanes results in fewer hold-ups for buses, which should in turn ease the flow of traffic through the city. We’ve had really positive feedback from Metro and bus operators about this and by expanding this scheme we could spread the benefits of reduced congestion further across Leeds.”

Surveys done at the remaining bus lanes city-wide in June last year showed a number of hot-spots with large numbers of motorists illegally using them. The survey results will be used to inform more detailed analysis of which lanes might benefit from the cameras.

Each would be assessed individually to see whether it would be suitable. New road signs and markings would be put in place before cameras are installed at a new site and this would happen in planned phases.

Anyone caught on camera cutting into a bus lane in Leeds faces a fixed penalty charge of £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days).


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

ENDS

Young people urged to vote for their national representative

Young people across Leeds are being asked to choose who they want to represent them nationally in the Youth Parliament elections tomorrow (Thursday 1 March).

There are six candidates aged between 13 and 18 who have put themselves forward to become a Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) for Leeds. With manifestos ranging from tackling unemployment, sexual health, teenage pregnancy and childhood obesity, young people can chose who they think will best represent their views in the UK Youth Parliament.

All young people (age between 11 and 18) in Leeds can vote in the elections, which are being held by The Youth Association and Leeds City Council, at schools and youth centres across the city (details below).

Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) are elected in every part of the UK and represent the views of the young people in their constituency. In Leeds there are four MYP positions available and two deputy MYPs. The results of tomorrow’s ballot will be announced on Friday 16 March.

Once elected, the successful candidates will regularly meet with MPs and local councillors, organise events, run campaigns, make speeches, hold debates and ensure the views of young people are listened to by decision makers.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services, said:
“In Leeds we have set ourselves the challenge to become a Child Friendly City, and the only way we can do this is by giving the children and young people of our city a voice. Being a member of the Youth Parliament is a great opportunity to represent the views and needs of all young people in Leeds.

“This is a chance for young people to get their voices heard, and develop some vital skills for their own personal growth and development at the same time.

“The candidates’ manifestos are very impressive and show they have a keen interest in improving the lives of the young people of Leeds.”

Kirsty Beeston, Operations Manager for the Youth Association, said:
“Its more important than ever for young people to have a say about what’s important to them and stand up to save services that matter to them. Having elected representatives from Leeds on the United Kingdom Youth Parliament will really strengthen young people’s voice and influence and help Leeds to achieve its ambition to become the best city in the UK for children and young people.”

Any young person who is a resident of the UK, and aged between 11 and 18 years old (inclusive) has the right to stand for election as an MYP and the right to vote for their MYP.

The MYPs will need to find out the concerns and needs of other young people in their constituency, and represent these views to decision makers on a local, regional and national level. Becoming a MYP would mean having regular meetings at the House of Commons and in the constituency.

Each MYP’s experience is likely to be different from the next, but it provides an opportunity to develop a combination of the following skills:
• Communication
• Public speaking
• Greater knowledge of politics and current affairs
• The ability to look at an issue from someone else's perspective
• Debating
• Teamwork
• Leadership
• Organisational
• Negotiation

The candidates’ manifestos are available on the Breeze website at breezeleeds.org/myp.

There will be polling stations at the following youth centres on Thursday 1 March:
South Leeds Youth Hub
Bangladeshi Centre
Holbeck Youth Centre
Lazer Centre (Armley)
Bracken Wood Community Centre
Prince Philip Centre
Weston Lane
Holt Park

The following schools will also be hosting polling stations for their pupils to vote:
Allerton Grange
Garforth Academy
Abbey Grange
East Leeds Academy
Roundhay School
Prince Henry’s Grammar School
Green Lane Primary Academy

For more information about UKYP please visit the following website www.ukyp.org.uk, call 01924 333 400 or send an email to Dmitry.fedotov@youth-association.org

Interviews with the candidates can be arranged, please contact Leeds City Council press office to arrange. PDF versions of the candidates’ manifestos are also available on request.


ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Free insulation scheme lines up next target area

The army of energy assessors currently making their way around Leeds have the City and Hunslet ward in their sights.

The Wrap Up Leeds team are on a mission to get people signed up for free cavity wall and loft insulation in a battle to cut resident’s energy bills and make Leeds more environmentally friendly.

The burgundy-uniformed staff are due to begin knocking on doors in the City and Hunslet ward offering free insulation which can provide savings of up to £300 a year.

That’s based on figures from the Energy Saving Trust for an average three bedroom semi-detached house once it’s wrapped up with cavity wall and loft insulation.

The fully trained, friendly and knowledgeable assessors have already pounded the pavements, visiting hundreds of residents in Burmantofts and Richmond Hill, Killingbeck and Seacroft, Gipton, Harehills and Middleton Park. Their next target is City and Hunslet.

Information suggests that installing loft and cavity wall insulation in particular types of houses in this area will make a big difference to residents.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services said:

“We certainly hope to wage war on rising fuel bills and make a significant dent in the city’s CO2 emissions with Wrap Up Leeds. We’re receiving a steady stream of enquiries but nothing beats getting out there and telling people directly about the benefits if they sign up. But you don’t need to wait for a visit, please call and take advantage of the offer while you can.”

Councillor David Blackburn, chair of the council’s cross-party environment and climate change working group said:

“It’s a major operation getting a project like this off the ground and we’ve had a fantastic start with so many enquiries and installations already. But we won’t be declaring mission accomplished until we’ve insulated 15,000 homes.”

Homeowners and private renters in Leeds can apply for their free cavity wall and loft insulation online at www.wrapupleeds.co.uk or by calling 0800 052 0071.

The 0800 number is free from most landline providers, but may not be free from mobile networks. If you would prefer, please call Wrap Up Leeds on 01484 351 779.

Notes to editors:

About Wrap Up Leeds
• Wrap Up Leeds is run in partnership by Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Energy Services, with funding from EDF Energy.
• Wrap Up Leeds is available to all homeowners and privately rented tenants (where landlord’s permission has been granted) in the Leeds City Council area only.
• Free cavity wall insulation, loft insulation (where less than 60mm of loft insulation currently exists) and loft ‘top up’s’ (where more than 60mm but less than 160mm of loft insulation currently exists) are available under the scheme.
• A free, technical survey of the property will confirm that the work will definitely be free and much larger properties or those that need extensive scaffolding may be asked to pay a contribution towards the work.
• The project estimates to help householders made total cumulative savings of £1,653,750 on energy bills based on installing cavity wall insulation in 6,000 homes, laying insulation in over 3,000 empty lofts and ‘topping up’ a further 5,850 lofts.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 5704
e-mail: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk


or

Ellie Lyon, Yorkshire Energy Services marketing team 01484 352010
Email Ellie.Lyon@yorkshireenergyservices.co.uk


ENDS

Path of improvement for Wetherby bridleway



CGS: Above, a section of the bridleway as it looks now and, below, as it will look when the work is finished



A popular bridleway in Wetherby is to get a new all-weather surface to help local people walk or cycle into town instead of taking the car.

A total of £25k has been obtained from the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan for the scheme at Quarry Hill Lane, which will be carried out by Leeds City Council’s public rights of way service.

The funding means around 400 metres of muddy bridleway will be surfaced in crushed and rolled limestone. An additional link path to the popular ‘Harland Way’ walking and cycling route will also be improved as part of the scheme. Work is due to start in March.

The surfaced paths will better provide for the needs of local people who wish to access the shops in Wetherby, go to work or take children to one of the two nearby primary schools.

The idea behind the scheme originally came from Wetherby Town Council’s Community Paths Partnership who worked with Leeds City Council to improve the central section of Quarry Hill Lane in the 1990s.

Since then they have been campaigning to get the more northerly section surfaced too.

Barbara Ball, Clerk to Wetherby Town Council, said:


“We are delighted to hear about the improvements to Quarry Hill Lane which will certainly be used more by everyone to get into town, be it to the shops, schools or work.

“In winter the path has been slippery and muddy and almost impossible for parents to use with prams. The new link path should also make it easier for walkers and cyclists to get onto the Harland Way - which is a superb feature of Wetherby and a tourist attraction too.”

While the work is being carried out , the affected section of Quarry Hill Lane will be closed. A temporary diversion will be signed on site and every effort will be made to keep noise and disruption to a minimum.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and economy said:

“This scheme will make a real difference to the daily lives of local people. The resurfaced path will make the town centre and the shops more accessible for shoppers, walkers, cyclist and schoolchildren.

“And as more people use the bridleway it also will help to reduce traffic congestion in the town centre with a knock-on benefit for everyone.”

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Annie Goodyear, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937
Email: anniegoodyear@leeds.gov.uk

LEP launches £24m infrastructure fund

The Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today launched round one of its £24m Growing Places fund.

Up to £10m will be available in the first round to front fund infrastructure projects that will drive economic growth in the City Region.

The LEP is inviting expressions of interest for round one from a variety of organisations. Final decisions on the allocation of funds for this round will be made by the summer.

Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP, Neil McLean said
:

“From our discussions with business and the public sector, we know that unavailability of finance is a major barrier preventing many infrastructure schemes from progressing. Through the Growing Places fund we aim to help unlock those schemes that will make the biggest difference to the City Region economy.

"The fund will also provide vital financing for the LEP over the longer term, enabling us to re-invest in future projects that will create jobs and economic growth, or lower carbon emissions.”

The Growing Places fund is a revolving fund, and will be given out mainly as loans. Over the longer term, the funding will be returned to the LEP to be re-invested in other infrastructure projects.

Examples of projects the fund could support include investment in physical infrastructure, such as a new road to access housing and/ or employment development land. Other possibilities are investment in infrastructure for local energy generation, or projects that both improve infrastructure and provide apprenticeship and training opportunities.

More information about the fund can be found at: www.leedscityregion.gov.uk/funding.htm
Expression of Interest forms can be obtained by emailing: lcr@leedscityregion.gov.uk The deadline for returning expressions of interest is 26 March 2012.

Ends

Notes to editors:Growing Places Fund
1. The objectives of the Growing Places Fund are to:
•Generate economic activity in the short term by addressing immediate infrastructure and site constraints and promote the delivery of jobs and/or housing
•To allow LEPS to prioritise the infrastructure they need
•To establish sustainable revolving funds for the LEP
•To lever in additional investment from complementary funding sources
2. Further information can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website: http://bit.ly/wYVjPa
Leeds City Region Partnership
1. The Leeds City Region (LCR) Partnership brings together a group of 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council) with businesses and partners to support economic growth and a better quality of life for our communities.
2. The Leeds City Region was one of the very first to form a private sector - led local enterprise partnership (LEP) and commit to working closely with both the private and public sectors in order to help businesses and the economy grow. The body representing the LEP – The LEP Board – is now working alongside the Leaders Board to deliver the Partnership’s economic development plan which was launched in September 2011.
3. The Leeds City Region is the largest city region economy and financial centre in the country outside London. With a £53billion economy representing 5% of England’s economy, over 100,000 businesses and a 3 million population, the city region will continue to be at the forefront in both driving the economy of the North and accelerating national economic prosperity.
4. For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit www.leedscityregion.gov.uk.

For press/media enquiries please contact:
Racheal Johnson, Policy and Communications Officer
Leeds City Region Partnership
Tel: 0113 2474227/ 07525 988361

Leeds council assisting people to remain independent for longer

Council chiefs will be asked to invest £1m of capital expenditure from next year’s budget for the purchase of Telecare equipment, at their meeting of executive board next week.

Telecare equipment is assistive technology (AT) which supports older and vulnerable people in their own homes, enabling them to live safely and independently for longer.

Leeds Telecare service offers continuous, automatic and remote monitoring of real time situations and emergencies via sensors placed around the home on ceilings, doors and walls. It can also be worn by customers in the form of a pendant, watch or belt. Sensors include smoke detectors, flood detectors, medication dispensers and wandering alerts.

If a Telecare sensor is activated in someone’s home, an alert is automatically raised in the council’s 24 hour Care Ring response centre, who then make contact with the customer to check on their safety. The response centre can identify which sensor has been activated, and then make sure that appropriate action is taken. This ranges from a telephone call to offer practical advice and reassurance to personal visits, making contact with family members or alerting the emergency services.

The council released £1m of capital expenditure in 2010 for the purchase of Telecare equipment. As a direct result of this investment, the number of home care packages that have been put in place in Leeds has reduced, providing savings of £1.6m whilst improving older people’s quality of life and sustaining their independence in a cost effective way.

Demand for assistive technology is growing because of increased awareness of the many benefits that it offers vulnerable adults and children. In April 2010, there were 2069 customers using Telecare in Leeds; this has grown to 4203 active customers in January 2012, including 81 children with disabilities.

In order to meet this increasing demand, a range of assistive technology services provided by the council and NHS will be brought together into one building later this year. This will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for customers and health/social care professionals, and more joined-up, cost effective services for providers of AT.

The new centre on Clarence Road near the city centre will bring the Leeds Community Equipment Service, Care Ring, the Leeds Telecare Service, Blue Badge assessments and AT training all together under one roof. Other assistive technology services may relocate there during the second phase of the development.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member with responsibility for adult health and social care said:
“Assistive technology is playing an increasingly important role in helping older, disabled and vulnerable people to remain living safely and independently in their own homes for as long as they are able to do so.

“Our aim is for Leeds to be the best city for health and wellbeing. By improving availability and access to this equipment, we can offer people with physical and mental health needs better choice and control over their health and social care.

“Our continued investment and innovative approach to assistive technology will help us to develop preventative, re-abling, cost effective services to meet the needs of our ageing population, and to remain at the forefront of AT provision nationwide.”

There is no charge to customers for Telecare equipment at present, although this will be reviewed as part of the council’s ongoing review of charging for adult social care services.

Case studies
James and Betty

James suffers from Parkinson’s disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and is hard of hearing. His wife, Betty, has previously suffered from lung cancer, stroke and heart failure and currently suffers from angina, dizzy spells, is partially sighted and has a history of pneumonia.

Despite both having complex medical needs, Betty is the main carer for her husband with support from her daughter who lives locally.

The Telecare team became involved with the couple in November 2010. James and Betty were feeling vulnerable and unsafe in their home due to their remote location and were concerned that James would not be able to hear a standard smoke alarm should he be in the property alone.

Betty reported that she was feeling frightened as her husband had fallen in the cellar and outside trying to get down the set of steps leading up to their property.

The Telecare team provided a pendant alarm to James, and installed two smoke detectors, a gas detector and a door alarm to provide reassurance should anyone try to access their property during the night. The gas detector is used to alert the couple if the gas fire is not ignited correctly or if there is any carbon monoxide in the property.

Since having the Telecare installed, the couple are feeling much safer at home, more independent and better able to cope. Their daughter Margaret says she feels a lot less stressed and more reassured. She said:
“I can relax a lot more now that I know they’ve got somebody at the end of a button, that they can contact if need be. At night time, the doors locked, and I know they’re safe. They use all their equipment well, and they would be lost without it. So would I. They need their independence – and I do too.”

Mary
Mary has always lived in Leeds and used to work in one of the local mills. She is diabetic and began forgetting to take her insulin, which caused her and her family a great deal of anxiety. She had difficulty cleaning her house and her son had to start doing this for her. Her family also had to step in and prevent her from cooking because they became concerned that she might leave the gas on.

Mary worried a great deal about falling, as she had begun to suffer falls frequently.

Mary’s occupational therapist arranged for Telecare and other equipment to be provided to help her live more independently. Smoke and gas detectors were fitted and she was also provided with a pendant alarm. Mary now uses a dosette box (pill organiser) to help her remember to take her medication, which her son fills for her.

Mary’s family feel much more confident about her cooking for herself again, and feel reassured that if she falls, she will be able to use the pendant alarm to get help quickly. Her son used to need to visit up to three times a day to check on her, but has now been able to reduce this to every other day.

The Telecare has made a big difference to Mary’s life. She said:
“My family wouldn’t let me cook. I was leaving the gas on. I could have died. Just seeing the alarm is enough to remind me now.

“I feel a lot more confident and independent now. If it wasn’t for this support I’d still be sat down on the settee being waited on, not doing anything – or I’d have had to go into a home.”
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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

Leeds set to celebrate the Paralympic Torch Relay


Picture caption: Visually impaired tennis players (red t-shirts) along with Leeds Paralympic swimmer Claire Cashmore (l-r) Phil Green, Qas Nasir, Dbrahim Lambat, Arif Maliq, Ricky Coleman, celebrate the announcement that the Paralympic flame will be coming to Leeds.


To mark six months to go until the start of the Paralympic Games, The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) has announced that Leeds will hold ‘Flame Celebrations’ as part of the Paralympic Torch Relay.

To celebrate the Paralympic Flame arriving in Leeds, Leeds City Council will be holding a Disability Sports Festival on Saturday 25 August.

People with disabilities from across the city will be invited to a Paralympic sports taster event at the John Charles Centre for Sport, where they will also have a chance to see the flame for themselves.

The event will tie in with a wheelchair and visually impaired tennis competition, taking place in the tennis centre as part of the Yorkshire County tennis championships that same weekend.

Councillor Jack Dunn, deputy executive member for leisure, said:

“Hosting the Paralympic flame is a great honour for Leeds, and recognition of the commitment we have to providing good quality disability sports in our city. We are very proud to have already achieved the Inspired by London 2012 mark for six of our disability sports projects.

“The Paralympic taster event will create a celebration of disability sport in the city and region, as well as being a great opportunity for people to try out some Paralympic sports.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the flame to Leeds and being part of something which will be inspirational to people across the world.”

The event will be run by the Leeds Disability Sport Youth Panel, which itself is one of the projects the council received an Inspire Mark for. The panel will also work with Yorkshire Gold and LOCOG to create a special moment to celebrate the flame’s arrival at the event.

The London 2012 Inspire programme recognises innovative projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In Leeds the projects which have been awarded an Inspire mark are:

- Disability & Wheelchair tennis coaching
- Leeds Wheelchair Racing
- Leeds Disability Sport Youth Panel
- Leeds Disability Sports Camps
- “Everyone for Tennis”- Inclusive Tennis Festivals
- Leeds Inspirational Disability School Sport 2012

The Paralympic sports taster day will be open to all disabled children, young people and adults (plus parents and carers). The tennis event is open for anyone to view.

Four Flames will be lit as part of a new concept for the Paralympic Torch Relay, one each in London, Greater Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Each nation will also host events celebrating the Flame Lightings. The four Flames will be united at the Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual home of the Paralympic Movement to create the London 2012 Paralympic Flame. This flame will be carried on a 24 hour overnight Relay to London and the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games on 29 August.

A total of 34 communities around the country have taken the opportunity to host Flame Celebrations and be part of the programme of events that will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Director of Paralympic Integration at London 2012, Chris Holmes, said:
“We are thrilled to announce that Leeds will play host to a Flame Celebration. This new concept will involve people from all around the UK in the spirit of the Paralympic Movement in unique ways relevant to the area. I know that people from Leeds will get involved in this celebration and help ignite passion for the Paralympics across the UK.”

On Tuesday 28 August, the Paralympic Flame will be carried Torchbearers, running in teams of five, in a 24 hour overnight relay from Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The 620 inspirational Torchbearers, who will also carry the Flame during local community visits, are being chosen by the three Presenting Partners, BT, Lloyds TSB and Sainsbury’s. There were over 3500 nominations from across the country and they are now going through judging before the successful teams are announced in the next couple of months. The relay will also include nominations from the British Paralympic Association and the International Paralympic Committee.

People will also be encouraged to help light the way to the Paralympic Games by lighting a lantern. For more information visit www.london2012.com/get-involved/local-leaders/lantern-festival/

- Ends –
Notes to editors

Photos of the Paralympic Torch are available on request. Please send the request to pressoffice@london2012.com


For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Council to tackle eyesore sites in Leeds

A number of derelict sites that are now eyesores in the city have been identified as part of a regeneration initiative across Leeds.

Over recent years there has been a growing number of eyesore sites across Leeds - These are mainly as a result of the economic downturn, although some properties have been disused for many years.

The council has identified 40 sites so far, and set aside a rolling budget of £500,000 to focus on improving the condition of properties, bringing them back into use or redeveloping sites.

The project will not only focus on the worst properties in the city, but also those which have the greatest impact upon local residents and businesses. The project will look at both privately owned buildings as well as the council’s own assets.

The council will work with owners of these buildings in the first instance, and where necessary will use enforcement powers to ensure properties no longer remain a nuisance. The work is ongoing and the number of sites identified will increase in coming months as further research is undertaken.

Cllr Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, housing and regeneration said:
“This is very good news for many local people because the sites we have identified are clearly eyesores for the city. People are fed up with these neglected sites and I can promise that we will no longer tolerate this.

“We understand only too well that poorly maintained buildings impact on the lives of local residents and do not do anything to help improve areas, and therefore we are taking action.

“We will do what we can to work with owners to deliver improvements to these sites within defined timescales. Enforcement action is a last resort but something we must use where necessary. We are determined to send a clear message to owners that they must maintain their properties in good order.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for development said:
“We want Leeds to be the best city in the UK and make sure that all the town centres as well as the city centre are both visually exciting and well maintained.

“Through effectively tackling eyesores across the city, we will improve the potential for future investment from the private sector, and maintain civic pride across the city and districts.

“Leeds has a number of exciting developments taking place the moment, but we want to ensure that we look to regenerate beyond the city centre to change all our communities and neighbourhoods.”

Ends

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