Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Olympic Torch enjoys royal welcome on first day in Leeds

Caption: Torchbearer Janet Baker pictured with HRH Princess Beatrice welcoming the Olympic Torch to Harewood House today with the Earl of Harewood standing behind them

Lower image - 33-year-old charity fundraiser Janet with the Olympic Torch on the route heading to the house

The crowds turned out in their thousands including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay to Leeds today for the first of the three days it comes through the city.

An estimated crowd of 25,000 people lined the streets of Boston Spa, Wetherby and Harewood as the iconic symbol of the London 2012 Olympic Games made its way to Harewood House where it was given a special royal greeting by the Princess.

All of the torchbearers were given fantastic support from the crowds along the route, with one of the highlights being 13-year-old George Stocker from Wetherby carrying the torch through the high street of his hometown. George was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008, but has bravely overcome the illness and also raised more than £50,000 for charity.

Other notable torchbearers included 58-year-old Alan Hinkes from Richmond, the first Briton to climb all of the world’s 14 highest mountains, 73-year-old Maureen Brewer from Wetherby who has worked for 26 years on reducing crime in the area, and 13-year-old swimmer Jemma Aylesbury from Sherburn-in-Elmet who gets up at 4am each day to train and dreams of competing at a future Olympics.

The torch will return to Leeds on Sunday travelling through Headingley, Potternewton, Harehills and Richmond Hill as it makes its way to Temple Newsam for a special city celebration event.

The torch then resumes on Monday morning leaving Leeds Town Hall and travelling through the city centre and through south Leeds and Morley.

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

“The scenes out on the route today were absolutely fantastic to see and it really did showcase Leeds in a wonderful way.

“A huge thank you to everyone who lined the streets or organised special events to welcome the torch – the atmosphere looked and sounded amazing – so that was the perfect start to this once-in-a-lifetime event and we look forward to more of the same on Sunday and Monday.”

A limited number of tickets remain available for the special city celebration event to be held on Sunday at Temple Newsam Estate. Organised by Coca-Cola, Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), the event will feature live performances by Friendly Fires, Little Comets and Tribes as well as dance troupe Diversity. As part of the show the Olympic Torch itself will arrive and will light a special cauldron on stage.

Tickets will be issued on a strictly first-come first-served basis and anyone wishing to secure them can visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk/leedscitycelebrations and print a ticket themselves or tickets can also be picked up while stocks last from the City Centre Box Office at The Carriageworks off Millennium Square along with Morley, Headingley, Otley, Armley, Compton Road, Crossgates, Halton, Garforth, Horsforth, Moor Allerton, Pudsey, Wetherby and Rothwell libraries.

Full details of the timings and maps of the Olympic Torch Relay route through Leeds can be seen at www.leedsgold.co.uk, along with information about the community celebrations being held along the route as the flame passes by.

Notes to editors:

The Temple Newsam Estate special city celebration is presented by Coca-Cola, and will celebrate inspirational Future Flames chosen to carry the Olympic Flame, while encouraging everyone to Move to the Beat of London 2012 through the fusion of music and sport.

The Olympic Torch Relay is being produced by The London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) along with Presenting Partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung.

The Olympic Torch Relay is 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.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472
Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Making Leeds a Safe Place

From left to right: Jackie Vater (Metro), Stuart Featherstone (Leeds City Council), Paul Appleyard, Tim Cook, George Long, Rajesh Sharma, Hilary Wood, Cllr James Lewis, Keith Ellis, PC Pete Overton, Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, PC Richard Stringer, Gerry Lazerty (Metro).

Learning Disability Week will see the launch of a scheme in Leeds aimed at helping people with a learning disability to deal with any problems they encounter whilst out and about in the community.

The Leeds Safe Places scheme is being led by adult social care services in Leeds in partnership with third sector organisations, West Yorkshire Police and Leeds and York NHS Partnership Foundation Trust. It will provide a network of safe places that people with a learning disability can go to if they are lost or are faced with dealing with any difficulties whilst they are out and about in the city.

Leeds City Bus Station is the first Safe Place in Leeds, and will host the official launch of the scheme on Wednesday, 20 June.

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Media are invited to the official launch of the Leeds Safe Places Scheme at 11am on Wednesday 20 June at Leeds City Bus Station to take photographs and speak to Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, council officers and customers about the scheme.

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The aim of the launch event is to encourage more businesses and organisations to register as a Safe Place. The council are looking for a wide variety of businesses, places of interest and community venues, such as shops, sports centres, libraries and cafes to join the scheme. Following their training they will be issued with the nationally recognisable Safe Places sticker, which they can display in their window.

People with a learning disability join the scheme and receive a distinctive wristband together with an emergency contact card. The card has space for scheme users to write their name together with up to three telephone numbers/emergency contact names. In the event that they require assistance, they will look for a window sticker and tell the staff at the Safe Place that they need help. Staff will telephone one or more of the numbers listed on the card until they are able to speak with someone who knows the person and who can provide support.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“I am delighted to be launching the Safe Places scheme in Leeds.

“It is hugely important that people with a learning disability are able to enjoy their lives to the full in and around their local communities. The Safe Place scheme is a really good way of giving learning disabled people extra confidence to get out and about, safe in the knowledge that assistance is available if they need it.

“I would encourage local businesses to register to be part of this scheme so that we can make sure that Leeds really is a safe place for vulnerable adults.”

Clare Thompson, a member of the Safe Places scheme said:
"I have got involved with Safe Places because I want to feel safer in Leeds and to help other disabled people."

Councillor James Lewis, chair of Metro said:
“This is a very valuable scheme and builds upon the work Metro has already carried out to support the introduction of Safe Place at its Bradford Interchange bus station, and at other bus stations across West Yorkshire.”


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

School attendance in Leeds is on the up

Pupil attendance at both primary and secondary schools in Leeds has reached the highest levels ever according to the latest figures released last week.

For the autumn term 2011/12 attendance at primary schools improved by 1.7% on the previous year to 95.9% and attendance at secondary schools also increased by 1.7% to 94.1%.

These figures put Leeds in-line with the national average for primary schools, which was also 95.9%, and only 0.4% under the national average for secondary, which is 94.5%.

Changes in how schools, Leeds City Council and voluntary services work together to tackle poor attendance is one aspect which has helped bring about this improvement.

By working much more closely together in the locality the council and schools provide coordinated support for individual children and families, as well as delivering locality-wide interventions, to tackle the underlying issues which lead to poor school attendance.

Such interventions address problems such as mental health, domestic violence, unemployment, crime and anti-social behaviour, all of which can have a massive difference on a child’s attendance at school.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“These figures demonstrate real progress for Leeds and are extremely good news. Improving school attendance is one of our three obsessions and so I am pleased to see our numbers improving. However, we do recognise that there is more to do and we are determined to continue to improve attendance levels year after year.

“The vast majority of children and young people in Leeds attend school regularly. However, for us, too many children are still experiencing problems that prevent them achieving their potential.

“To address attendance issues properly it is important to recognise that poor attendance at school can be a symptom of other more complex problems at home and in the community. This is why we have worked hard to improve services for these children and families to ensure they get the support they need early on before problems become too entrenched.

“Attending school regularly is probably the most important thing a child can do to improve their life chances, so we will do all we can to help as many children get the education they deserve. “

The figures which were released yesterday also show that persistent absence in Leeds secondary schools fell dramatically from 11.2% to 7.7%.

Persistent absence in Leeds primary schools also fell, from 4.3% in the 10-11 academic year, to 4.0% in the 11-12 autumn term. This ranks Leeds 75 out of 152 local authorities and ahead of the statistical neighbour average at 4.4%.

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

Guide to help communities shape their neighbourhoods

Senior councillors in Leeds are to be asked to approve guidelines which will help local communities shape how their own neighbourhoods grow and develop.

Neighbourhood plans are a key part of the Government’s localism agenda, allowing communities to choose where they want homes, shops and offices to be built and have their say on what those buildings should look like.

However, the Government has made it clear that the plans must be “pro-growth” and cannot be used to object to development.

Altogether 35 communities across Leeds have expressed their interest in preparing a neighbourhood plan.

There are already pilot neighbourhood planning schemes going ahead in four parts of Leeds – Boston Spa, Holbeck, Kippax and Otley.

The proposed guidelines advise communities on how to prepare their own neighbourhood plans in accordance with local and national policy – including the National Planning Policy Framework and the Council’s own Core Strategy. They also outline the practical, financial and legal issues communities should bear in mind.

Among 10 “tips for a successful neighbourhood plan” the guidelines
advise communities to consult widely and agree on what the important issues are before putting pen to paper. They should also work closely Leeds City Council who will support and guide them throughout the procedure.

This will include getting information together about the neighbourhood and the people who live in it as well as any existing plans or strategies. The plans should also be clear, achievable and sustainable.

Cllr Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member neighbourhoods and planning said:

“It’s very encouraging to see that there has been so much interest in neighbourhood planning from communities across the city and we are looking forward to working closely with them to ensure that their plans are the best they can be.

“ We would like to see area committees working alongside communities and local businesses to create neighbourhoods that are attractive, safe places to live and work and which retain their own distinctive local character .”

Note to editors:

There have been 35 expressions of interest across Leeds in preparing a neighbourhood plan

Leeds City Council has placed advertisements notifying the intention to designate eight neighbourhood areas in Barwick and Scholes; Bardsey; Walton; Thorpe Arch; Aberford and District; Wetherby; Bramham; Linton.

Oulton and Woodlesford, Holbeck and Aireborough are all preparing to be designated neighbourhood forums ad other areas have expressed an interest.

More recently there has been increased interest from areas which don’t have parish councils.

For media enquiries, please contact: Annie Goodyear
Leeds City Council press office, on (0113)2243937.
Email: annie.goodyear@leeds.gov.uk