Thursday, 8 March 2012

“Official” car parks are drivers for improvement

More than three thousand unauthorised commuter parking places in Leeds city centre could soon become official after car park owners submitted detailed planning applications to the council.

A total of 16 planning applications for car parks were received following the council’s decision last year to review its city centre commuter car parking policy.

The review followed concerns raised by members of the public when enforcement action was taken against seven car parks operating without planning permission.

As a result the council decided to allow a certain number of car parks to remain open on condition the operators undertook certain improvements.

An upper limit of 3,200 places was placed on the number of car park spaces to be approved in order to limit congestion on the motorway and in the city centre.

Applications were received for a total of 4568 spaces in all. The applications were assessed according to agreed criteria with preference given to those sites likely to generate the least congestion, provide better security and safety, offer the best quality landscaping, greenery and biodiversity, and to those sites offering other beneficial uses.

A report to Leeds City Council plans panel recommends approval for 11 of the 16 applications.

If approved the car parks will be able to stay open for the next five years and will help support the city’s economy and provide much needed environmental improvements.

The revised commuter car parking policy balances competing objectives – including the need to encourage city centre leisure and business, the wish to promote sustainable transport and the opportunity to improve the appearance and safety of the car parks. A recent study by government adviser Mary Portas emphasised the importance of car parking in city centres to support their vitality and health.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member responsible for development and economy, said:

“These proposals will mean the people of Leeds will benefit from car parks that are safer, look better and which serve the needs of commuters and the wider city economy.

“When businesses and members of the public raised concerns about the closure of these car parks we responded quickly by suspending enforcement action and setting up a review of city centre parking.

“We understand that these car parks provide valuable commuter car parking spaces, particularly around the south side of the city centre, and that this can help support local businesses.

“It is also the case that major public transport schemes which were anticipated – such as Supertram and the park and ride proposals– have not yet materialised.

“The application process has been transparent and fair. We have assessed the applications against a set of very clear criteria.

We have used the planning process to secure overall improvements to the appearance of the sites while still considering the wider transport needs of the city.”

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Note to editors:
The car parks recommended for approval are:
Wellington Place North ( 200 places )
Wellington Place South (490 places)
Former Brewey Hunslet Lane ( (1091)
City One, Sweet Street (1833)
Whitehall Riverside (TCS) (2256)
Skinner Lane (2331)
Globe Road (A) (2501)
Globe Road (E) (2584)
Globe Road (C) (2740)
Midland Mills, Water Lane ( 2940)
Ingram Street (3218)

Leeds City Council plans panel will meet to consider the applications on 15th March

Council launches Facebook campaign to encourage recycling

Leeds City Council is taking a new direction in its ongoing bid to encourage more recycling and less messy streets in problem areas of the city.

A new campaign will see the council embracing the power of Facebook and Twitter to motivate residents in Headingley, Burley and Hyde Park to ‘sort it, bin it, win it’.

Centring on the Binitwinit Facebook page, the campaign aims to encourage residents to take more responsibility for their rubbish and recycling and gives them the chance to win prizes for doing so.

On the Facebook page, the ‘sort it’ option tells residents what can go in their green and black bins, whilst the ‘bin it’ option explains when to put out and collect bins.

Residents in the area can also request text alerts to remind them to put their bins out on the correct day. The ‘win it’ element gives residents the opportunity to win some great prizes – as long as they have signed up and been putting out their rubbish correctly.

The campaign aims to avoid overflowing bins and get recycling rates up – the percentage of waste from the area sent for recycling falls well below the city average.

The move to social media follows extensive work in the area in late 2011 and so far this year which is educating residents on what to put in each bin, when to put bins out, and when to collect them in - as well as the available recycling and waste facilities.

In total 55 fixed penalty notices - each carrying a £75 fine - have been hand-delivered in Headingley and Hyde Park since December, after 575 warnings.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services said:

“We need to address the issues that residents are rightly raising with us. But we need to speak to our audiences in a way that they will engage with. We believe that by embracing social media in this way we can start to influence behaviour and produce a positive impact.

“We’ve used a range of tools at our disposal to educate, inform and encourage in the past and we’ve not been afraid to use the stick approach when necessary. This approach uses a little bit more carrot than stick.”

Jo Johnson, community and wellbeing officer at Leeds Metropolitan Students' Union said:

"Recycling and looking after the environment is becoming increasingly important to students and young people. It's fantastic that Leeds City Council are running a campaign using social media as this is accessible to great numbers of people, and will no doubt improve the situation with waste and recycling in Leeds."

Ben Fisher, community officer, Leeds University Union said:

“It’s great to see the council approaching the issue by reaching out to inform residents about how recycling and bin collection works in the area. This might be many people’s first time living independently, and education is the best way to empower them to take responsibility for the area they’ve moved in to. Social media is the natural way to get this message across, and I look forward to seeing this in action.”

Visitors to the binitwinit pages on Facebook can sign up to enter a draw. Prizes including Leeds Festival 2012 tickets (kindly donated by Festival Republic for free), iTunes and Amazon vouchers and tickets to gigs, comedy clubs and the cinema. The recycling and refuse teams will award the prizes on a random basis but only to households that have sorted and binned their refuse correctly.

The text reminder service will allow residents in the Headingley, Burley and Hyde Park areas only to receive accurate and up-to-date information about collections in their area. The service is being introduced to solve the problem of residents missing their collection day.

As the campaign gets off the ground, progress, prize winners and other announcements will made via the Facebook page and through Twitter.

The campaign is now live at Trust’s www.facebook.com/binitwinit and twitter.com/binitwinit.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
e-mail: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk

ENDS

Parks apprenticeships to be relaunched

Leeds City Council will create 21 new apprenticeship places in its parks and countryside service as it looks to restart a programme which has not been active for over 25 years.

In a proposal that was agreed by senior councillors at the executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 7 March, 21 apprentices are to be employed in placements lasting at least two years learning a wide range of skills from working in parks and green spaces across the city.

The scheme will be the first formal apprenticeship programme run by the council’s parks and countryside service since the last set of recruits started their apprenticeships in 1984. Many of those former apprentices are now in senior positions within the service, including the current head of parks and countryside Sean Flesher who is a graduate of the scheme.

Under the new scheme, the council will work with a learning provider to set up work-based training programmes which would lead to nationally-recognised qualifications and the possibility of employment opportunities to allow further development up to and beyond degree level.

Supported by funding from the National Apprenticeship Service, each apprentice will receive approximately £7,000 per annum and will have the chance to learn a range of skills and knowledge such as in catering and retail, soil science and horticultural design, planting and management, landscape construction, customer service, animal care and transport and mechanical engineering.

There are already two apprentices working within the service in horticulture, forestry and animal care but there is now a need to expand the programme to develop new talent for the long-term sustainability of the service.

Each apprentice will work closely with a mentor who will be on hand to offer advice, guidance and support while the trainees will also get to develop their skills by working in broader areas such as greenkeeping and golf course maintenance, as well as working in forestry and some of the unique features in Leeds parks such as the Chelsea Flower Show gardens in Roundhay Park and the Japanese Garden at Horsforth Hall Park.

The scheme follows on from the success in apprenticeship creation seen in Leeds from August 2010 to July 2011, when the number of new apprenticeships in Leeds was up by 7,030 – a 98 per cent increase on the previous year. This success was down a number of initiatives delivered by the City’s Apprenticeships Steering Group led the City Council and supported by key partners across the city, including the council, the National Apprenticeships Service, schools and academies, colleges and learning providers to engage with the wider business community, to encourage and support more employers to recruit new apprentices and develop their existing staff through the apprenticeship route.

Seeking to further build on this success, an additional £1m from the 2012/13 council budget is to be invested to deliver jobs, training and apprenticeships.

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

“A main priority for the council is to get young people into work, and this scheme will offer the perfect chance for a number of young people to gain new skills and employment.

“The scheme has worked very well in the past, as proved by our current head of parks and countryside who has been with the council since the age of 16, where he started as an apprentice.


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

“It is great that we are re-launching the apprenticeship scheme in parks and countryside, giving us a further opportunity to help young people across the city to gain valuable new skills and experience.

“One of Leeds’ greatest assets is the amount of green space the city has. Young people interested in this line of work will be have the chance to work across the city to maintain our green spaces and contribute towards the aim of making Leeds the best city in the UK.”


Head of parks and countryside Sean Flesher said:

“Carrying out an apprenticeship with the parks and countryside service here in Leeds gave me the perfect start in the horticulture industry and it would be fantastic to see the programme running again offering more young people the same chance I had.

“We are holding an Open Day at Red Hall Nursery on Saturday 28th April, which will be an opportunity for prospective apprentices to meet staff within parks, ask questions about the service and discuss future apprenticeship opportunities – I would encourage anyone interested to come and have a chat with us.

“It would also have an important role in continuing to allow the service to develop with new talent and new ideas coming to the fore, ensuring parks and green spaces in Leeds will continue to look great for future generations to enjoy.”

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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

French trade delegation lands in Leeds

The French Ambassador is in town today, bringing with him a special trade delegation made up of business chiefs from 11 major French international organisations, to look at what Leeds has to offer.

The visit, which has been organised in association with Marketing Leeds, will showcase Leeds and the wider city region as a first class place for French companies to invest in and do business, and give delegates the chance to visit some of the key developments happening in the city at the moment.

The delegates will meet the chief executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, and Mark Ridgway from Group Rhodes, who will be representing Leeds City Region LEP, in the morning, followed by lunch hosted by leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Keith Wakefield. They will then be taken to the site of Leeds arena, followed by a visit to the University of Leeds and then the Trinity Leeds site.

******************** Photo opportunity ********************

Media are invited to attend the site visit to the Leeds arena site on Claypit Lane by the French Chamber of Commerce and French Ambassador trade delegation for a photo opportunity at 2pm on Thursday 8 March.
Please confirm your attendance to Claire Macklam on Leeds 395 1578 or email claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

******************** Photo opportunity ********************


Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“I am delighted that the French Chamber of Commerce has chosen to visit Leeds, and welcome their special trade delegation led by the French Ambassador to our city.

“Our ambition is for Leeds to be the best city in the UK, and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase what we have to offer on an international level.

“Leeds is the biggest city in the north, and we must do everything we can to make sure that we continue to be a strong investment prospect both nationally and overseas to ensure that we continue to prosper for the benefit of our residents and our economy.”

Bernard Emié, French Ambassador to the UK said:
“Our visit to Leeds is an opportunity to strengthen the region’s already significant economic and human ties with France. There are currently 41 French companies with a presence in Leeds, with France being the third-largest investor in terms of number of projects in the region.

“Leeds is a dynamic hub in innovative sectors like services, medical technology and the digital industry among others, and is a particularly attractive city for our companies to visit.

“We also have close academic links with Leeds. Leeds University has the largest French department in the UK with more than 800 students currently enrolled on the different programmes, 25 academic and teaching staff and researchers, and four French lecteurs and lectrices.

“So this visit will improve awareness of the investment opportunities that exist in the city, and also encourage more partnerships with companies in the region, whilst appreciating the cultural and academic influence of France in Leeds.”

Continuing the French theme, a delegation from Lille City Council and the Académie de Lille, the education authority in Lille, are also in Leeds today to sign an agreement between the two cities committing them to continuing to work together in the field of education for the next three years.

This agreement will formalise the work undertaken between the two cities since 2009. Eight primary schools from Leeds have been linked with eight primary schools from Lille, and a number of inward and outward teacher and headteacher visits took place in 2010 and 2011, funded by the British Council. The initiative was set up to support primary schools in their teaching of a modern foreign language, as well as to foster inter-cultural understanding and the global dimension in the curriculum.

Demand from schools in Leeds and Lille to continue working together is strong, so the agreement will be formalised and external funding sought to support joint activities.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member with responsibility for children’s services in Leeds said:
“This educational agreement has already been successful in adding an international dimension to the curriculum and providing unique opportunities for the children, young people and school staff who have been involved.

“It has supported eight of our primary schools in their teaching of French as well as helping to develop better inter-cultural understanding.

“The signing of this agreement in the presence of senior representatives from education and the business communities of both cities sends a strong message about the importance of the two sectors working together in order to create a well-skilled workforce and strong local economies in both countries.”

Ends

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