Friday, 2 March 2012

Secondary school admission figures are good news for pupils

Families applying for secondary school places in Leeds have received good news this week after thousands of young people were told they would be attending their first preference secondary school.

Of the 7568 places offered to start secondary school in September, 84 per cent were first preference offers, compared to 86 per cent in 2011. A total of eight per cent were second preference offers (also eight per cent in 2011) and two per cent were third preference which was also the same as last year.

Across the city, families living in Leeds faired even better with 89 per cent being offered their first preference Leeds school.*

A record number of applications were made online, with 77 per cent of parents choosing this quick and easy way to apply.

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“School admissions is always a tense time for families so I’m delighted that a total of 89 per cent of young people in Leeds have been offered their first choice of school, and more than 97 per cent one of their three preferences. These are fantastic figures for Leeds.

“We want to build on this so that next year even more of our young people attend one of their preferred schools.”

For more information on school admissions in Leeds visit: leeds.gov.uk (education and learning pages)

Notes to editors:
*The overall figures are for all secondary places in Leeds and include applications made by families from outside the city. The 89 per cent figure focuses only on Leeds residents applying for secondary school places.


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

School speed limits on the fast track

Lower speed limits are being established around more schools in Leeds, making the roads safer and reducing the number of injuries to road users.

The 20 mph schemes were introduced around six schools last year following changes in government regulations which reduced the costs involved. A further 16 sites are expected to be completed this year. The intention is that completion and evaluation of these schemes will pave the way for their extension to other schools and residential areas in the city.

Previously, government regulations meant that all 20 mph zones had to include traffic calming measures, such as speed humps or road narrowing, at frequent intervals. Changes mean these are not now mandatory and the council can install them only where they consider them necessary. The number of signs required has also been reduced. As a result each scheme now costs around 60 per cent less than before the changes.

The newer schemes are generally taking in larger areas since only a small proportion of child casualties actually occur near the schools.

The schemes are being rolled out first in areas of Leeds knows to have the highest rate of child casualties. After that resources will be prioritised according to a number of criteria, such as whether the school is on a main road or if there are shopping parades or parks nearby, as well as road injuries and local issues of concern.

Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) show that there is a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries from a road accident at 20 mph compared with 30 mph.

Evidence from Leeds shows 20 mph zones have so far reduced injury accidents by an average of two each year per zone.

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

“ All the evidence shows that restricting car speeds to 20 mph is much safer. Studies show that it also lowers pollution and it certainly makes life more pleasant for walkers, cyclists and children playing outside.

“This is one of a number of measures which the council has introduced which have contributed to a significant reduction in the number road accident casualties in the city.

“We know there is great support from the public for these 20 mph schemes and it’s very good news that we are now in a position to extend them to so many schools and surrounding areas in the city. “


Notes to editors


20 mph schemes were introduced at the following schools in 2011

1. South Leeds Arts College Rodillian (Ardsley and Robin Hood)
2. Morley High School (Morley South)
3. Holy Name Catholic Primary School (Weetwood)
4. Kirkstall St Stephen's CE Primary School (Kirkstall)
5. Gildersome Primary School (Morley North)
6. Boston Spa School (Wetherby)

The following are the schools where schemes will be introduced in 2012
1. Shire Oak CE Primary School
2. Hunslet Moor Primary School
3. Beeston Hill St Luke's CE Primary School
4. Sharp Lane Primary School
5. Fountain Primary School
6. Carr Manor Primary School
7. Carr Manor High School
8. Moor Allerton Hall Primary School
9. Talbot Primary School
10. Beechwood Primary School
11. Wetherby High School
12. St Matthias Primary School
13. Whitecote Primary School
14. Hollybush Primary School
15. Beeston Primary School
16. Hugh Gaitskell Primary School

Aside from the above schemes there are approximately 55, existing 20 mph zones and speed limits already in Leeds. A zone refers to an area with frequent traffic calming features.

A 20 mph speed limit can be designated simply by putting up signs but in the past this has generally been used for smaller areas and where cars already tend to travel at lower speeds.

The new schemes being introduced by the council cover a wider area than a simple 20 mph limit would do but are not required to have as many traffic calming features in place.

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

Community may apply to list favourite buildings

Community groups will able to register buildings and land which are important to them with their local council under government legislation to be introduced later this year.

The Localism Act 2011 requires councils to publish and maintain a register of assets of community value. The list could include facilities such as a local shop, the last pub in the village, a community or children’s centre or a library building.

Once an asset is placed on the list the owner of the property has to inform the council if they decide to sell. Community groups then have six weeks to express an interest in buying it and up to six months to put together an offer. The owner of the property can only sell during this period if it is to an eligible group.

After the six month period is up the landowner can still sell their property to whoever they wish.

A report to Leeds City Council’s executive board says the Government expects the council would receive around 15 applications each year to register properties as community assets though, given the vibrant community sector in Leeds, this number is expected to be much higher.

For a building or land to be included on the list the council must decide that it furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. Land that has been used in the recent past for such purposes or which could be within the next five years may also still be regarded as being of community value.

Landowners can appeal against their inclusion on the list. They may also be entitled to compensation for any delay to the sale of their property which will have to be paid by the council.

It is expected that the legislation will come into force in April.

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

“Leeds is made up of many vibrant communities who make very good use of our community facilities so we would expect that there would be quite a lot of interest from people wanting to nominate buildings or land.

“We know from our own experience that in the right circumstances local groups can take over community facilities and run them very successfully.

“This scheme does not guarantee that the community will be able to buy these assets but it does enable them to express their interest and allow them time to put a bid together. “

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

New guidelines ensure council building transfers are an asset to the community

Community groups which bid to take over council buildings will need to ensure their plans benefit the wider community under new guidelines drawn up by Leeds City Council.

The groups would also need to convince the council they could maintain and run the building for the length of its lease.

A report to the council’s executive board says the Government’s Big Society concept and the localism agenda, combined with council’s need to rationalise resources, have led to an increase in requests from community organisations and services to take over and run council buildings.

It says transferring council assets can be valuable in supporting the third sector and benefiting communities and lists a number of buildings in Leeds which have transferred into community ownership with “incredibly positive “ results. These include SHINE at the former Harehills Middle School and Tiger 11 at the former Hillside school.

But it says the council has a responsibility to ensure that unrealistic expectations are not built up and that the groups concerned understand the costs and responsibilities involved. The council needs to consider the benefits and risks of each proposal in a consistent manner and to ensure that community asset transfers support the council’s strategic objectives.

The report, to be considered by the executive board next week, lays out a series of principles to underpin decisions about when an asset should be transferred and outlines practical issues that need to be considered.

These include the community benefit as well as the site value and the council’s need to generate income. Assets should only be transferred if the transfer will benefit the wider community rather than particular groups and organisations will need robust, accountable management and a clear financial system.

The report recommends that all transfers should be on a long lease and that organisations submitting proposals should provide a viable business plan. The council will need to take into account the scale of the project and the resources of the local community as well as how much help the organisation will need to get established.

The council is currently considering 13 applications for transfer including Bramley Baths, Holbeck Day Centre and four local libraries.

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

“Where community asset transfer works well it can a fantastic way of regenerating buildings and reviving community services. We have a strong community spirit in Leeds and we are finding more and more groups coming forward wanting to do this.

“We want to help make this process work in the right way for the benefit of the wider community.

“For that to happen we need to be clear about when and how we allow assets to be transferred to community ownership and what we expect from the groups involved.

“These guidelines will help the organisations applying to have an asset transferred because they will know what they have to consider and how to put a bid together. And they will help us as a council to ensure that our processes are transparent, consistent and fair to everyone involved.”


Editor’s note:

Recent community transfers include:
Woodhouse Community Centre - Oblong
Cardigan Centre – The Cardigan Centre
Chapeltown Enterprise Centre - Unity Enterprise
Leeds Media Centre – Unity Enterprise
Headingley Primary School/HEART – Headingley Development Trust
Middleton Enterprise Centre – Health for All
Harehills Middle School/SHINE – Harehills CIC
Hillside Primary School – Tiger 11

Proposals under consideration include:
Bramley Baths – Friends of Bramley Baths
Garforth Sports Centre – Schools Partnership Trust
Gildersome Meeting Hall – Gildersome Parish Council
Dolphin Manor – Friends of Dolphin Manor
Shadwell Library – Shadwell Parish Council and Friends of Shadwell Library
Drighlington Library and Meeting Hall – Council offer, no organisations at present
Cow Close Library, Wortley - Council offer, no organisations at present
Rawdon Library – Friends of Rawdon Library
Bramley Lawn Day Centre – Bramley Elderly Action
Holbeck Day Centre – Holbeck Elderly Aid
Holbeck Youth Centre – Health for All
Royal Park School – Royal Park Community Consortium

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

Council clamps down on foul behaviour by dog owners in Garforth

An area of Leeds has been targeted in a council clampdown on dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets after a sharp rise in complaints from local people.

Twenty per cent of all dog fouling reports for Leeds have come from Garforth since January 1, marking a significant rise from what were a few a week previously.

In total Leeds City Council’s dog wardens service has received 168 complaints about dog fouling this year- with 33 of them from the Garforth area.

The area is currently the focus of an intense campaign to remind owners of their responsibilities. Wardens have visited reported hot spots such as footpaths, ginnels and grassy areas to assess the scale of the problem.

Early-morning and weekend patrols of these areas have been taking place to catch in action those owners who do not clean up when their dogs have fouled. Over the past few weekends wardens have also been out talking to dog walkers.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services, Leeds City Council, said:
“We had to take action after our wardens noticed more and more complaints coming in from the Garforth area. Dog owners who do not clean up after their pets are irresponsible, anti-social and are breaking the law.

“Fortunately the wardens found that most of the dog walkers they spoke to during their patrols had come prepared to clean up their pet’s mess. Those who didn’t have been reminded that they will receive fixed penalty notices for failing in their responsibilities.”

Anyone who does not remove their dog’s mess faces a £75 fixed penalty notice or prosecution, with fines of up to £1,000. Signs are being put up in Garforth to reinforce the message.

Local residents are also being asked to report regular offenders and provide details to help identify them where possible by calling the council on 0113 222 4406.


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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Top marks for Aire Valley supported housing team


Caption: The supported living team with Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods and housing

Aire Valley Homes has been awarded five ‘A’s for its sheltered housing service.

The service was assessed by the Centre for Housing Support against the Quality Assessment Framework and was awarded the highest score possible, recognising the organisation as one of the top 15 service providers nationally.

During the inspection, a health and safety assessment of a number of schemes was carried out, with staff representatives interviewed, and the support plans reviewed.

Meetings were held with local residents, with the report stating that residents ‘were lavish in their praise for the service’ and were able to give plenty of examples of there the housing service has given ‘practical support and advice.’

The supported housing team support 1900 vulnerable customers across the south and outer east areas of the city, and they have worked hard to make customer service at the heart of what they do.


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

“As the previous Chair of Aire Valley Homes, I am so proud of this new team, and the great service they are delivering to our customers.

“Despite financial pressures, we have shown that hard work and a focus on customer services can still achieve great results. Aire Valley Homes have shown great commitment to take on this challenge and to achieve five ‘A’ ratings is exceptional.

“One of the council’s priorities is to support older people’s housing as population trends show that there will be more people needing extra care in the future. My full support is offered to ensure the standard continues year on year.”

Simon Costigan, Chief Executive of Aire Valley Homes, said:

"The new team, recognisable in their new uniforms, look professional, offer a professional service, are extremely well liked by our residents and are a true credit to the organisation. This is an excellent team achievement.”

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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