Thursday, 24 May 2012

Leeds deal with China signed and sealed ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Caption: Deputy Director General of the Sport Department of the Chinese Olympic Committee Mr Liu Aijie (left) with Leeds City Council project manager for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Peter Smith conducting the formal signing of the contract in Beijing

Leading Chinese athletes from eight sports will be coming to Leeds in July and August to train for the London 2012 Olympic Games after the agreement between the sporting nation and the city was formally signed last week.

In a signing ceremony held in Beijing, the Chinese Olympic Committee concluded the negotiations to use Leeds as its official European pre-Games training base in a historic agreement with Leeds City Council, The University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University, Bradford College and Wakefield Sports Club.

The agreement in principle had first been announced in August 2011 when both parties signed a memorandum of understanding. This was followed by months of detailed negotiations leading up to the final signing of the contract last week in Beijing. Approximately 220 athletes, coaches and support staff will be arriving in Leeds from early July, covering eight sports as the China teams complete their final preparations before competing in the world’s biggest sporting event in London.

The confirmed China teams coming to Leeds are in the following sports: swimming at the Aquatics Centre, John Charles Centre for Sport; table tennis, fencing and Taekwondo at The University of Leeds; track and field athletics at Leeds Metropolitan University; boxing at Bradford College; hockey at Wakefield hockey club, and canoe slalom which will also be part of the official Leeds camp but will be based and train at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.

Since the original memorandum of understanding was signed last year a number of China sports have changed their plans for their pre-Games training. Mountain biking, modern pentathlon, water polo and handball have either not qualified to compete in London or have changed their plans, while boxing which was not in the original deal has been added to the Leeds camp.

The most high-profile among the Chinese athletes coming to the city will be their table tennis stars who enjoy near-total dominance over the rest of the world. Such is their stranglehold at the top of the sport that China currently boasts the leading five players in both the men’s and women’s world rankings, while they have also swept the board by winning every available title at the individual World Table Tennis Championships since 2003.

The delegation from Leeds who visited Beijing included two chefs from the University of Leeds, who were invited by the Chinese Olympic Committee to gain experience and understanding of the way in which they prepare and cook food in their own Olympic Training Centre. The Leeds chefs were given an insight into an environment that very few westerners have ever seen before, and will help ensure that the food prepared for the visiting Chinese athletes is of the required standard. Their enhanced knowledge of this type of cuisine will also benefit the many Chinese, Asian and other students on campus.

As well as the direct financial benefits of hosting the China team which is likely to be approximately £250,000, the deal is also expected to provide a major long-term boost to trade, commerce and tourism as well as strengthening cultural ties between Leeds, Yorkshire, the UK and China. Leeds has recently launched the Leeds Gold Business programme that is intended to harness the opportunities that hosting the Chinese Olympic athletes in Leeds presents.

The deal further reinforces the already strong links between Leeds and China as the city and Hangzhou in the Zhejiang Province have enjoyed a sister city agreement for the last 23 years and there is a sizeable Chinese population living in Leeds.

The University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University both attract Chinese students to Leeds to complete a wide range of courses, while Leeds Met deliver a number of degree courses in China in partnership with a number of Chinese universities.

Leeds will also be hosting pre-Games training for the Netherlands swimming squad at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport from July 15-24, including reigning Olympic and world champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo (women’s 4x100 metre freestyle relay).

The Canada wheelchair rugby team will also be heading to Leeds to train at The University of Leeds before competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games which takes place from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September.

Following detailed discussions with other countries who had indicated a desire to train in Leeds, unfortunately due to financial reasons caused by the world recession and reduced sporting budgets linked to poor qualifying performances, or for other logistical reasons, athletes from the USA, Serbia, Russia and Australia are now unable to come to the city.

Speaking after the formal signing agreement between Leeds and China, Deputy Director General of the Sport Department of the Chinese Olympic Committee Mr Liu Aijie said:

“The Chinese Olympic Committee sincerely appreciates the hard and fruitful work Leeds City Council has done on the preparations of the pre-Games training camp for the Chinese sports delegation. We are firmly convinced that the training camp of the Chinese sports delegation in Leeds will achieve great success with mutual trust, concerted efforts and friendly cooperation from both sides.

“The friendship between China and UK will definitely make strides forward with the success of the pre-Games training camp and I hope more and more Chinese students will go to Leeds to pursue their studies in the near future.”

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to have signed the deal for China to send its athletes to Leeds to complete their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It is a historic agreement and a tremendous honour to be hosting some of the world’s leading athletes in our city and we are sure they will enjoy their time in Leeds.

“As with all agreements things can alter after the initial negotiations, and especially due to the current very challenging global economic climate it is no surprise to see some of the elements have changed but it remains a massive achievement to have secured these athletes from China, Holland and Canada to come to Leeds and we very much look forward to welcoming them.”

Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) Seb Coe said:

“This partnership is a great example of what we wanted to achieve with the Pre-Games Training Camp process. China will have use of some fantastic facilities and in turn Leeds has the honour of hosting one of the world’s best sporting nations.”

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Games, visit

Notes to editors:

Leeds Gold is the city’s official brand to support the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It has been developed to be used by individuals and organisations in the city in connection with any projects, events or activities that contribute to, and capitalise on, all the opportunities that the hosting of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games present. It will provide an ‘umbrella’ brand that will link projects and events together and make a clear association with, and help celebrate, the London 2012 Games. For further information please go to

The Yorkshire region’s activities around the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are being co-ordinated by Yorkshire Gold which is supported by key stakeholders from across the region. For further information visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Better lives for people with dementia in Leeds

Leeds took a step closer to becoming a dementia friendly city with an awareness raising event organised by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), which took place as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2012™.

The ‘Better lives for people with dementia in Leeds’ event was opened by Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member responsible for adult social care services. Chief executive Tom Riordan was also in attendance to talk about what the council is doing to become the best city for living well with dementia.

Leeds City Council made a formal commitment to becoming a dementia-friendly community back in March, as part of a nationwide initiative led by the Alzheimer’s Society and the Department of Health. The event yesterday brought together people from many organisations including community groups, the council, WYFRS, local NHS trusts, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, and Trading Standards. People with dementia and carers joined the event, which covered key priorities such as early diagnosis and support, staying safe at home, and supporting families and carers.

There are around 8,400 people with dementia in Leeds; but less than half of these are known and diagnosed. That means that people are missing out on getting early support, and medication that could potentially slow down the process of the condition.

Christine Bailey spoke about her personal experience of living with dementia, the importance of having the condition diagnosed and having support in place. She praised the day service which she attends at the Leeds branch of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for adult social services said:
"Dementia is one of the greatest challenges facing our ageing society. People are living for longer, which is really good news, but it also means that more people and their families are faced with trying to cope with the effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

"Our ambition is for Leeds to be the best city in the UK, which we want to take further by becoming the best city for living well with dementia.

“One of our biggest challenges will be changing the attitudes of people to dementia, which will help to make everyday life a better experience for people with the condition. In support of this, I am delighted that ten of our neighbourhood networks for older people have started to develop local support for people with dementia, which will help them to participate in mainstream activities in their communities.

“Yesterday’s event has brought us a step closer to making sure that people and families affected by dementia have excellent support, treatment and care throughout the dementia journey.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council said:
“Dementia is possibly the condition that people fear the most in later life, but it is possible to live well with dementia.

“There is already a lot of good work taking place in Leeds to develop innovative services like memory clinics, peer support, mental health liaison teams in hospitals and intermediate care services that support people to leave hospital and return to their homes.

“We are committed to being a dementia-friendly community, and are working with our partners to help to raise public awareness of the condition, and start addressing some of the attitudes and lack of understanding that exist which create unnecessary barriers for vulnerable people and their families.”

Sarah Laidlow-Moore, senior prevention manager of WYFRS said:
“WYFRS embarked on a new project aimed at improving service delivery for people who may be experiencing any form of diagnosed dementia, undiagnosed memory loss or forgetfulness. The ultimate aim of the project is to ensure that these individuals and their carers have the information they need, shared in the most appropriate way, to reduce the potential for death, injury or personal loss through fire.

“This event has been a great opportunity to showcase our commitment and involvement in raising awareness of dementia. We look forward to continuing to work with all agencies and carers in the field to help raise awareness and help keep individuals safe within their own homes”.


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

Top Yorkshire chefs to make an appearance at Kirkgate Market

Caption: Brian Turner

The best of British will be at Kirkgate Market this weekend as two Yorkshire chefs are making an appearance.

Brian Turner, known for his stints on Ready Steady Cook and his many years as resident chef on This Morning will be at The Source this weekend signing copies of his new book – “A Taste of Summer.”

Bringing another slice of Yorkshire charm to the market halls will be runner up of this year’s Master Chef competition - Tom Rennolds. Tom will be at The Source from 10.45am – 2pm working with Hayes Seafood stall ‘shucking’ oysters and promoting his Best of Yorkshire Food Festival.

Both chefs will be in the market on Saturday 26 May 2012 as part of the celebrations for the Leeds Loves Food festival. You can also catch Brian doing a demonstration in Millennium square with produce from Kirkgate market on Friday 25 May.

Councillor Gerry Harper, Leeds City Council markets champion said:
“It is great to see chefs from the region coming to the market, which is home to such a variety of excellent local food.

“The city will be celebrating everything there is about food this weekend and the market is an obvious place to start! “

As part of the promotions around the Global Food Market and Leeds Loves Food, Kirkgate Market is offering a voucher booklet and an hour’s free parking in the market car park when you spend over £20 in the indoor market.

For more information visit and


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