Thursday, 29 March 2012

Baby meerkats cute beyond compare…

Three of the meerkat pups when they first ventured out of their burrow

Getting more confident and having a peep at what's going on in the meerkat enclosure

Popular Leeds visitor attraction Tropical World is celebrating some adorable new arrivals.

Four meerkat pups were born five weeks ago, and have just started to be brought to the surface of the meerkat enclosure by their mum. The first few weeks of their lives have been spent completely underground in their burrows under her watchful eye. She now lets them venture out for short periods of time.

Seven litters have been born at Tropical World in the last three years and the pups are always really popular with the public, with attendance numbers rising with people wanting to see them whilst they are still babies.

The pups are not yet old enough for their sexes to be determined, but they will mature quickly and reach adulthood in just 12 months. Their fluffy fur has now disappeared and they look just like miniature versions of the older meerkats. They will spend the first six weeks of life totally dependent on their mother, but then quickly acquire a taste for worms and grubs. The adult members of the colony at Tropical World act as babysitters and teachers showing the newcomers how to forage and find food, while visitors will also enjoy seeing the new youngsters play-fighting as they learn together and grow stronger.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, executive board member with responsibility for leisure said:
“We are absolutely delighted to be celebrating the arrival of another new litter of meerkats at Tropical World, which are sure to be a big hit with all our visitors over the next few weeks.

“Tropical World is a hugely popular visitor attraction in Leeds, and is now better than ever in terms of being a great place to visit for all the family."


Additional info

Located opposite Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants outside Kew Gardens and also houses birds, butterflies, fish, young crocodiles, other reptiles, nocturnal monkeys and bats.

Tropical World was officially renamed ‘The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World’ in 2008 in honour of the local benefactors for their lifelong support for the area and the city.

For further information on Tropical World and its opening hours go to or call 0113 214 5715. You can also like the official Tropical World Leeds page on Facebook.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Major works announced for Inner Ring Road

Work will begin soon on a major programme to repair three bridges on the Leeds Inner Ring Road after Leeds City Council was successful in its bid for government funding.

The Department for Transport has agreed to provide £16.34 million towards the programme which will take place in three phases. Leeds City Council will contribute around £6.5m to cover the remaining costs.

The first phase, involving work on the New York Road Viaduct over Marsh Lane Junction, begins on May 8th to be completed by August this year.

It will involve strengthening the viaduct support foundations and installing a new bridge deck drainage system as well as concrete and steelwork repairs.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve the remaining works when it meets on 11th April. If approved, repairs to Lovell Park Road Bridge will begin in June 2012 with completion by March 2013, in time for the opening of the Leeds Arena.

Weak edge deck beams will be replaced so that two-way traffic over the bridge can be reinstated. This work will require the Inner Ring Road to be fully closed in both directions on a number of weekends.

The third and largest part of the scheme, Woodhouse Tunnel, will begin in Spring 2013 and is not expected to finish before Autumn 2014. The work will be programmed to avoid the busiest times and to avoid conflicts with other major events taking place in the city. A widespread communication exercise will be undertaken beforehand to help travellers plan their journeys and minimise disruption.

The work will involve strengthening the walls and centre pier, installing a vehicle impact protection wall to the end of the pier and carrying out further concrete repairs to both the walls and the tunnel roof.

Interim repair work was carried out to Woodhouse Tunnel last summer while the bid was prepared to the DfT.

Built throughout the 60s and 70s as the UK’s first urban motorway, the Inner Ring Road carries on average 75,000 vehicles every day and its infrastructure now needs significant attention.

At the time the inner ring-road was built, it was one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the city and it pioneered cutting edge engineering techniques. It sank a road right through the middle of one of the busiest cities in the UK. The aim was to divert traffic away from the city centre and to build motorway links to surrounding areas and cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford and Hull.

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

“ It is very good news that we have been able to find the funding for these much needed repairs. It is something we tend to take for granted these days but life in Leeds is almost totally dependent on the Inner Ring Road. It is a massive asset to the city and the wider city region, so it is vital that it is kept in good repair.

“There will inevitably be some disruption to traffic while work is going on but we will keep this to a minimum and I’m sure commuters and business drivers will understand that this work is for their long term benefit.”

Details of road and lane closures and the diversion routes in place while work takes place on the New York Road Viaduct can be found on the dedicated

Further details about road closures and diversion routes while work takes place on Lovell Park Road Bridge can be found on the webpage:


For media enquiries, please contact;
Annie Goodyear, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937

Celebrating equality in Leeds schools

Picture caption: "Pupils from Harehills Primary School choir entertaining the guests at the Stephen Lawrence Education Awards ceremony."

Pupils in Leeds were praised for their commitment to race equality at a celebration event last week.

Pupils and staff from 45 Leeds schools and six children’s centres were awarded for their commitment to the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard at an inspirational event at Leeds Civic Hall.

The awards ceremony is an annual celebration event for schools and children's centres that have achieved the standard which promotes race equality. To date, 180 schools and 10 children’s centres in Leeds have achieved the Standard.

Certificates were presented to schools and children’s centres achieving Levels 1, 2 or 3 this year. To achieve the award, schools and early years centres have to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and evidence of promoting inclusion and race equality to help transform education.

The programme for the ceremony will give children and young people an opportunity to share their learning and understanding of being responsible global citizens. Pupils from Harehills Primary, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School and Stanningley Primary will entertain over two hundred guests attending the ceremony.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services at Leeds City Council said:
“In Leeds we have a proud tradition of celebrating cultural diversity and the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard is an excellent way to broaden young people’s horizons and embed a culture of equality in our schools and communities.

“Our aim to be a Child Friendly City can only be achieved if our young people understand the importance of race equality, not only in schools, but in all walks of life. The standard encourages our children and young people to treat everybody equally regardless of their race, beliefs or religion.”

The Standard was developed in partnership between the former Education Leeds, Leeds City Council and black and minority community representatives, in response to the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the publication of the Macpherson Inquiry Report into his death six years later. In 2010 the programme was launched nationally and is now available to schools across the country.

Developed in 2003, the standard is awarded to schools, early years centres and colleges which demonstrate knowledge, understanding and evidence of promoting inclusion and race equality to help transform education. Around 77 per cent of Leeds’ 263 schools have already achieved the award, with many more working towards it.

The programme provides a powerful framework and programme for schools to work in partnership to enrich and improve the learning experience of children, young people and adults.

Notes to editors:
The 45 schools and 6 Children’s Centres which received the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard are:

Level 1
Armley Moor Children's Centre; Castleton Children's Centre; Harehills Children's Centre; Meadowfield Children's Centre; Meanwood Children's Centre; Richmond Hill Children's Centre; Adel Primary School; Adel St John The Baptist Church of England Primary School; Alwoodley Primary School; Armley Primary School; Ashfield Primary School; Beeston Primary School; Boston Spa School; Calverley Parkside Primary School; Castleton Primary School; Christ Church Upper Armley Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School; Cookridge Primary School; Cross Flatts Park Primary School; Farnley Park Maths & Computing College; Hollybush Primary School; Horsforth Newlaithes Junior School; Lawns Park Primary School; Ninelands Primary School; Oakwood Primary School; Rothwell Victoria Junior School; Ryecroft Primary School; Seacroft Grange Primary School; St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School; St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Otley; St Margaret's Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School; St Mary's Church of England Controlled Primary School, Boston Spa; St Patrick's Catholic Primary School; Swarcliffe Primary School; Whingate Primary School;

Level 2
Five Lanes Primary School; Rothwell Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School; St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Horsforth; St Theresa's Catholic Primary School; Weetwood Primary School; Westgate Primary School; White Laith Primary School;

Level 3
Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School; Harehills Primary School; Ireland Wood Primary School; Moortown Primary School; Priesthorpe Sports Specialist College;
St Anthony's Catholic Primary School, Beeston; Stanningley Primary School;

Bronze Level (Level 3 revalidation)
East SILC John Jamieson School & Technology College; Hovingham Primary School School; St Bartholomew's CofE Voluntary Controlled Primary School;

The 12 criteria of the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard are:
1. A whole school approach.
2. School self-evaluation.
3. A written race equality policy.
4. Written anti-racist and anti-bullying policies, with clear procedures to deal with racial harassment and bullying.
5. An effective approach to monitoring and responding to racist incidents.
6. An inclusive policy on the procedures for pupil admissions, assessment and transfer.
7. A written policy for involving parents, carers and the community in working with and supporting the school.
8. An inclusive curriculum which positively reflects a culturally and religiously diverse society, promotes race equality, and prepares pupils to become responsible citizens.
9. An effective monitoring process of black and minority ethnic pupils, particularly to academic attainment and exclusions. Target should be set for improvement for all groups of children.
10. The effective monitoring of staff recruitment, staff development and governors appointments, with targets for recruitment from ethnic minority groups.
11. Mandatory anti-racist training for all staff and governors.
12. All policies should be linked to an action plan.

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

New short breaks service for disabled children and their families

Disabled children across Leeds will benefit from better choice and flexibility when a new short breaks service begins in April.

A new provider has been chosen to supply the invaluable short breaks service which gives disabled children and young people enjoyable experiences, whilst giving parents and carers a valuable break from caring responsibilities. A greater number and range of short breaks will be available across the city from 1 April, following consultation with children and families who helped choose the new provider.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance and North East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC) on behalf of the SILC cluster, will work together to deliver what children and their families have told us they want. They will offer additional support for mainstream services so that disabled children can fully participate in the same activities as their peers. They will also offer individual support, tailored activities and activities at different times and places, which recognise that all children are different.

Short breaks are flexible and meet the needs of the individual child and their family. They can include activities which last anything from a morning to a weekend or longer. And can take place in the child’s own home, the home of a carer, a residential or community setting.

The new providers will deliver services city-wide in partnership with numerous partners including SILCs, mainstream schools, Sports Development, Inclusive Arts and the voluntary sector.

Andrew Hodkinson, Principal of North East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre, said:
‘I am delighted that NE SILC has been awarded this contract with and on behalf of all SILCs in Leeds. We are committed to working in partnership with agencies throughout Leeds to deliver a flexible, personalised and local service to disabled children, young people and their families across the city’.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“The short breaks service is invaluable to families with disabled children, providing them with a change from their caring routine, at the same time as giving disabled young people new experiences, opportunities to make new friends and have new experiences of life.

“We listened to the voices of the children and young people who already use the services, to help us choose the new providers. I’m sure the improved range and flexibility will be great news to families whose children already benefit from the service as well as those who’ve not tried it before.”

Families will be invited to a launch and information evening to meet the new providers and learn all about what the new services will offer.

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