Friday, 30 March 2012

Taking part is at the heart of Olympic Torch event in Leeds

Local performers will be taking part in a very special event at Temple Newsam this summer, to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay coming to Leeds.

The event, on Sunday 24 June, is one of only four special national events being held in major cities across the country. The highlight of the celebration will be the arrival of the Olympic Torch, giving the crowd of up to 50,000 people what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the iconic flame during its time in the city.

The event will include an exciting line up of headline bands, dancing, music, and poetry performances to ensure that Leeds is buzzing with the magic of London 2012, and will provide a showcase for some of the amazing talent that exists in the city. People attending will be given the chance to take part in a mass participation experience, the like of which has never been attempted before in Leeds.

In the run up to the event, which Coca-Cola, a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay, is staging with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), people across the city will be able to go online to learn three specially chosen songs so they can join in on the night.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council executive member for leisure said:
“We are honoured to have been chosen as a host city for one of only four special City Celebration events to coincide with the journey of the Olympic Torch through the country; it really will be an occasion for the whole of Leeds to get involved in and celebrate.

"The event will be a fantastic way for us to showcase the amazing talent that we have in our city, and give as many people as possible the chance to see the Olympic Flame when it comes to Leeds.

"Temple Newsam is a great venue for this event, and we want as many people as possible to come along and get involved in singing and dancing to celebrate this special Olympic year.”

Over 200 singers belonging to community choirs from across Leeds will perform as part of the spectacular celebrations. The choirs will be led by international singer, jazz pianist and choir master Pete Churchill, who has worked on a number of community initiatives in the city.

Each of the participating choirs will learn the same three songs to be performed on the night and members of the public will also get the opportunity to listen to the songs online so that they are able to join in. Details on how to sign up and get involved in the dance will be announced in due course.

Musical director Pete Churchill, said:
“At the heart of this event there is the notion of community and the power of music to draw people together. One of the strongest messages we have to communicate to those who will listen, is the enjoyment of the time we have spent together. And if people can hear that and understand the important role that music has in binding our communities, we will have succeeded in this, our own Olympic quest.”

Fifty young dancers from major dance organisations in Leeds will perform on stage. The dance will reflect the Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship and is choreographed by Gary Clarke, a Yorkshire Dance associate artist.

This will be followed by a short but grand scale dance involving 2012 people as a symbol of this special Olympic year with the intention for the whole audience of up to 50,000 people to then join in. It is to be choreographed by Phoenix Dance Theatre artistic director Sharon Watson. The fifty young dancers will join 1962 members of the audience for the two-minute 2012-people spectacle, followed by a repeat performance with all 50,000 audience members encouraged to join in.

The internationally known Leeds Young Authors will then take to the stage with a dynamic performance of ‘Slam Poetry’ to keep the audience buzzing.

And as a rousing and unforgettable finale to the city’s contribution to the show, local choirs on stage and in the arena will join together and lead everyone in the biggest sing-song the city has ever seen.

The final performance and all the rehearsals are being co-ordinated by Space2, a local charity which engages with local communities from across Leeds by using the arts as a focus for increasing self-esteem and community cohesion.

Additional info
To register for free tickets for the Leeds Evening Celebrations, please visit

The Olympic Torch Relay is being managed by The London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) along with partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. The relay will begin at Land’s End in Cornwall on the morning of Saturday 19 May 2012 after the flame arrives in the UK from Greece the previous day.

The flame will then embark on a 70-day tour of the UK, travelling 8,000 miles 12 hours a day with 66 overnight stops around the country en route to London on July 27 2012, where it will light the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium to officially declare the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In total the Olympic Flame will be carried across the UK by 8,000 inspirational torchbearers each of whom will have a story of personal achievement and/or contribution to the local community.

The participating choirs include: Voices of the Day community choir from Seacroft; Leeds Youth Choir, run by Artforms’ music and arts team; Gay Abandon, an adult lesbian, gay and bisexual choir; Caution, a young people’s singing group from Chapeltown; and Leeds Schools’ Choir. The choirs will be joined on stage by the Leeds College of Music Band and professional pianist and former LCM student, Aron Kyne.

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

Local man's criminal £55k fortune seized

A man who ran a sex establishment from his home in Leeds has been ordered to repay £55,000 from the proceeds of his criminality.

Mr Gary Carl Pickard of 55 Parkwood Road, Leeds, LS11 5RQ was ordered to pay the amount plus repay costs of £5,000 at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday 28 March at the end of a number of investigations into how he ran his house as a sex establishment.

Leeds City Council, working in partnership with Trading Standards and Kirklees Council have pursued the case since 2010 after a complaint was received about an advert in magazine offering pornographic films for sale. In a first for Leeds City Council, both a warrant was obtained and also criminal proceedings, leading the way for further prosecutions.

At the start of the investigation, Kirklees Council were instructed to carry out an investigation into the financial affairs of Mr Pickard on behalf of Leeds City Council.

In February 2011 a Restraint Order was taken out against Mr Pickard which prohibited him from dealing in his assets. Trading Standards were notified and Leeds City Council obtained a warrant to enter and search his home where they were able to seize a number of dvds.

On the 30th March 2011 Gary Carl Pickard appeared at Leeds Crown Court and pleaded guilty to one offence of using premises as a sex establishment without a licence being in force and five offences of having in his possession video recordings of unclassified work for the purposes of supply. Mr Pickard was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years and ordered to undertake 150 hours unpaid work.

John Mulcahy, Leeds City Council’s head of licensing said:

“This is a real first for the council. We have successfully obtained a warrant to enter the residential property and also gained a prosecution for the proceeds of crime.

“Mr Pickard had financially benefited from his criminality, and it is therefore only right that this money is taken back.

“It is an excellent result for the council and partners involved, and a real warning to people undertaking this kind of business, that we are watching them and are able to pursue these cases.”

Jane Brady, assistant director of Kirklees Council’s customer & exchequer service said:

“This case demonstrates how effective partnership working ensures offenders are brought to justice for the full extent of their crimes. Our Financial Investigation Team have the powers to probe into financial affairs to make sure criminals don’t gain from their activities – clearly demonstrating that crime doesn’t pay.

“Our Financial Investigators acted quickly on information received from Leeds City Council to investigate Mr Pickard’s financial situation. During the operation they calculated the full extent of Mr Pickard’s benefit from his criminality and uncovered assets of over £136,000. Investigators also found Mr Pickard had failed to inform HM Revenue & Customs about his employment, or earnings since 2004.

“These findings were used to obtain a Restraint Order which prevents Mr Pickard from dealing with any of his assets until the result of the Confiscation Order hearing is known.”

Graham Hebblethwaite West Yorkshire Trading Standards chief officer said:
"For those who fall into the net the Proceeds of Crime Act can serve as a very stark wake up call. Where it can be demonstrated that offenders have profited from running an illegal business West Yorkshire Trading Standards will always seek to recover criminal their assets."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

It only take a minute…

Now the clocks have moved forward and lighter nights can be enjoyed, Safer Leeds is reminding people it only takes a minute to think, check and secure your house to prevent an intruder getting in.

As the nights turn lighter there is often an increase in sneak-in burglaries as people forget to shut windows and doors in their properties. In the last 12 months around 1 in 3 burglaries were sneak-in’s.

Safer Leeds, the council and police crime fighting partnership, is encouraging everyone to think about their home security, as well as advising the public to ‘lock up or lose out’. This links in with a county wide campaign, run by West Yorkshire Police to make people aware of the small things they can do to keep their homes safe.

The campaign urges people to think that it only takes a minute to lock your doors and windows, but that this is the same amount of time that it could take a burglar to enter your house and steal your belongings.

As part of keeping valuables safe, Safer Leeds are encouraging residents to register their personal items on the national property register site at By just taking a minute to register the various codes on items such Mobile phones, TVs and laptops, you can ensure that it more easily traceable if they were to be stolen. In some areas of Leeds, the Police are visiting homes with special scanning equipment to register people’s equipment easily to the national database.

Councillor Peter Gruen, chair of the Safer Leeds board and Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for community safety said:

“We have been working hard with the police to drive down burglary rates in Leeds and have had some early successes.

“We are committed to targeting burglars and disrupting their activities across the city and making people aware of what they can do to help themselves.

“ The ‘It only takes a minute’ campaign serves as a reminder to people that it only takes a short period of time to secure their property, otherwise they risk the awful possibility of being burgled.”

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd, said:

“The summer months are an enjoyable time for most people but there are far too many that have the lighter nights ruined by a heartless thief.

“Burglars can be in and out of your home in a matter of minutes and they often walk in through an unlocked door while you are out in the garden or busy in the kitchen.

“People’s lives can be destroyed by burglary and it’s an issue that we take very seriously and are working tirelessly to combat here in West Yorkshire. Our hard work is paying off and we are seeing a reduction in burglary and insecure burglaries are no exception. But there are still too many people ignoring our messages and we need their help to continue to combat the issue. Most burglaries are preventable and by making some simple changes to your daily routine we can reduce this type of crime.

“A burglar’s dream is an unlocked door or window. So, the message is clear - lock your doors when you come home and don’t leave windows open in an unoccupied room. It only takes a minute for a burglar to sneak-in and take your treasured possessions.”

For more information visit


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Enterprise zone to bring growth and jobs boost

The Leeds City Region LEP, in partnership with Leeds City Council, is launching the Aire Valley Leeds enterprise zone, which goes live from next Monday 2 April.

Developers and landowners are predicting a massive boost to growth, investment and jobs across the Leeds City Region. The enterprise zone is expected to deliver up to 7,000 jobs and £550m of additional economic activity by 2025.

The Aire Valley Leeds enterprise zone covers 142 hectares of prime employment land along the route of the East Leeds Link Road. Companies based there will benefit from a package of incentives, including reduced business rates worth up to £275,000 over a five year period, fast track planning and an intensive business support programme.

All four sites that make up the enterprise zone – Newmarket Lane (9.2 ha), Thornes Farm (21 ha), Logic Leeds (49 ha) and Temple Green (63 ha) are ready for development and have planning consents in place for a range of employment uses, including large-scale manufacturing, distribution and high quality offices.

Neil McLean, Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP said:“The launch of the enterprise zone is a milestone for the local enterprise partnership and will significantly improve our national and international investment offer.
The opportunity presented by the EZ to retain business rates mean that we can invest more money across the city region to address important issues such as improving skills levels and creating better job opportunities.”

Advanced negotiations are already underway with businesses located within the area of the enterprise zone looking to expand their operations and with potential occupiers looking to relocate to the enterprise zone. Plans to create
an advanced medical park to build on Leeds’ strength in the healthcare sector are also under discussion.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council said:
“This is an exciting day for Leeds and for the whole of the Leeds City Region.
The enterprise zone will provide a focus for businesses and a powerful incentive for them to invest in this region. It is the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, planning and cooperation between all the local authorities involved and the business community We should be very proud of what we have achieved together and look forward with confidence to a development which will bring jobs to local people and help to regenerate the entire region.”

Leeds City Council has also agreed £2.5 million of funding to build a new spine road that will accelerate development of the 49 hectare Logic Leeds site and improve linkages and access to employment opportunities for surrounding residential communities.

An experienced team of landowners and developers, which includes Muse Developments, Evans Property Group, KeyLand Developments, Castle and Wilton Developments, is working alongside Leeds City Council to develop the enterprise zone.

David Wells, Development Director, Muse Developments said:
“The Aire Valley Leeds enterprise zone is well ahead of the game. The £2.5 million investment by Leeds City Council into the new spine road will enable us to deliver bespoke business premises, designed to the highest specification within an accelerated time frame to become one of the UK’s premier business locations.”

Benefiting from excellent transport links and close proximity to the M1 and Leeds City Centre, Logic Leeds will provide an ideal location for companies in healthcare, low carbon manufacturing, renewable energy, waste management, logistics and distribution.”

More information on the enterprise zone can be found online at

Notes to editors:

The Leeds City Region Partnership
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.
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.
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.
For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit
For press/media enquiries please contact:
Maraki Mikroudaki, Senior Communications Officer
Leeds City Region Partnership
Tel: 0113 2476947

Celebrating two decades of helping young people in care

Picture caption: "Cllr Judith Blake and director of children's services Nigel Richardson (centre), celebrating 20 years of the independent visitors scheme with staff and Independent Visitors."

A special service which recruits volunteers to befriend and mentor young people in care is celebrating its twentieth anniversary next week.

Leeds City Council’s Independent Visitors Scheme held a special event to say thank you to volunteers and staff who make a big difference to children in care.

In the 20 years since it was developed, the scheme has helped many young people gain self-confidence, improve their life choices and generally have a more enjoyable time whilst being in care.

The scheme currently has 86 independent visitors and 73 young people who benefit from regular meetings and trips with a visitor who they have been specifically matched to.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services at Leeds City Council said:
“All children and young people need a positive adult role model, someone who takes an interested in their welfare and progress, someone who is there just for them, who can give them support and advice, and encourage them to reach their full potential. It’s sometimes difficult for Children in care to have this stable figure, which is why people who volunteer to be independent visitors are so important.

“This event will be a great opportunity to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the people who take time out of their busy lives to make a massive difference in the life of a young person who really needs it.”

Independent visitors, young people, foster carers, social workers and children’s services staff were all invited to attend the event, which was held at Thomas Danby College. The guests took part in a range of activities at the event including a quiz, raffle, giant games and displays, as well as beauty treatments by Thomas Danby students.

As someone outside the care system, the independent visitor can offer an alternative perspective on life, providing young people with friendship and guidance - as well as fun trips to the cinema, the countryside, sports events and restaurants. It is important that the young people are able to identify with their independent visitor therefore they need to be matched to someone with a similar heritage, who can offer cultural experiences relevant to their background.

Independent visitors meet with the young person they are matched with once a month on an evening or weekend for a couple of hours each time.

For further information on the Independent Visitors Scheme or to find out how to become a volunteer visitor, please call on 0113 3951255 or email

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