Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Council set to agree loan extension with Yorkshire County Cricket Club

The possibility of extending the length of a loan to Yorkshire County Cricket Club to assist the club’s finances and in the longer term to try to ensure continued international cricket in Leeds is to discussed by senior councillors next week.

At the meeting of the executive board to be held at Civic Hall on Wednesday 18 July, councillors will discuss a request by Yorkshire County Cricket Club to extend the terms of an existing £9m loan which was due to be repaid by April 2020 to run until December 2025 instead.

A £9m loan was granted to the club by the council in December 2005, enabling the club to secure the freehold to the ground which was a condition set down by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the venue to be able to continue hosting international test matches to the end of 2019. The loan has also been used in the funding of the Carnegie Pavilion development at the iconic Headingley Cricket Ground.

The club has now approached the council to extend the length of time to repay the loan, with security for the request being provided by the ground itself, the adjacent cricket school and also the personal guarantee of meeting any shortfall by the Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman.

The club are confident the extended terms of the loan will help to ensure they are in a position to continue hosting test matches at Headingley on a regular basis following the end of the existing agreement with the ECB in 2019.

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

“As part of the drive for Leeds to be seen as the best city in the UK, maintaining international test match cricket at Headingley is hugely important for the profile of the city as well as the economic and tourism benefits which come from thousands of people coming into Leeds every year to watch matches there.

“As a sporting venue Headingley Cricket Ground is one of the most famous in the world, so we are keen to do all we can to support and work with Yorkshire County Cricket Club to ensure they are in the best position to secure international matches up to 2019 and beyond.

“As part of this revised agreement which has extended the loan period, we have also tightened the terms of the loan in order to give greater protection to Leeds council taxpayers’ money. The club has maintained a close and positive relationship with the council throughout this process and we look forward to that continuing in the years to come.”

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

Councils join forces to solve adult social care management system needs

Leeds City Council is poised to enter into a innovative shared services partnership with a neighbouring local authority.

Council chiefs will be asked to approve plans that would see Leeds adult social care services adopting the current social care case management system, developed and owned by Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, at their executive board meeting next week.

This pioneering move will provide social workers in Leeds with a highly efficient tool to collect, store and manage information about people who use social care services in the city. Adopting this intuitive and flexible system offers a cost effective solution for the council in the short term, and offers significant opportunities for both councils to work together, including the potential generation of revenue, in the future.

Calderdale has a proven track record of system development and the partnership will enable both cities to be on the front foot when responding to new national health and social care legislation.

By entering into a shared services agreement with Calderdale, both councils will be in a stronger position to meet the evolving health and social care agenda, which will see adult social care services working much closer with health services.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member responsible for adult social care said:
“Caring for the increasing number of older, vulnerable adults in our society is one of the biggest challenges facing local authorities across the country right now.

“We are acutely aware of the growing demand for our services, which requires us to deliver more with less resource. Joining forces with another council to deliver and develop a flexible client management system for adult social care in Leeds will have enormous benefits for both parties.

“This proposal represents a true shared service approach, which will provide us with an intuitive system to meet the current and known future requirements of front line adult social care staff.

“Calderdale has a proven track record in system development, and by embracing the principles of civic enterprise and entering into a partnership agreement with them, we will be able to work together to develop the system further at a reduced cost to both parties.”

From Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Bob Metcalfe, cabinet member - adults, health and social care, and Councillor Bryan Smith, cabinet member - performance and resources said:
“Calderdale has invested in its own internally developed adult health and social care system in partnership with customers, practitioners and technical colleagues.

“This has enhanced our ability to provide a high quality efficient service that helps us to meet the needs of our customers.

“It is a valuable tool and one that we are pleased to share with our Leeds colleagues.”

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

China’s Olympians make a splash on arrival in Leeds





Captions from top: China swimming star Chen Qian and colleagues at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds

The China-flag inspired flowerbeds currently seen at King Lane roundabout in Moortown


China’s Olympic athletes have begun arriving in Leeds as they begin their pre-Games training camp ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Approximately 220 athletes, coaches and support staff will be based in Leeds over the coming four weeks as the sporting superpower which led the medals table at the 2008 Beijing Games completes its preparations for the world’s greatest sporting event.

Members of the China swimming team were put through their paces at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport after arriving in Leeds over the weekend.

They included leading trio Lu Ying, Li Xuanxu and Chen Qian who all claimed medals in the 2011 FINA World Championships and will all be targeting more success in London. For 18-year-old Li Xuanxu this will be her second Olympic Games after competing in Beijing in 2008 at the age of just 14.

The swimmers will be joined in Leeds between now and Wednesday 8 August by athletes in seven other sports - table tennis, fencing, Taekwondo, track and field athletics, boxing, hockey, and canoe slalom.

Of these, table tennis, fencing and Taekwondo will be at the University of Leeds; track and field athletics is 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 will be based and train at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.

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. The recently-launched Leeds Gold Business programme is intended to harness the opportunities that hosting the Chinese Olympic athletes in Leeds presents.

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

“We are delighted to welcome our special guests from China to Leeds and hope they have an enjoyable and productive stay in our city as they finish their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“This is a historic achievement for Leeds to attract a real sporting superpower, and the media attention at the John Charles Centre for Sport to see their swimmers training was great to see and is a real testament to the world-class facilities we have.

“Hopefully that has set the tone for a very successful few weeks and beyond as we look to strengthen our cultural and economic ties with China in the future.”

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 15-23, 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 from 13-20 August before competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games which takes place from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September.

To add to the welcome the visiting Olympic and Paralympic teams will receive, Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service have also produced special flowerbed displays around the city based on the colours of their national flags.

Leeds Kirkgate Market is also marking the athletes from China arriving in Leeds with a special celebration this week. Themed around Chinese cuisine, a series of tours, demonstrations and tastings will take place at The Source from Wednesday 11 July to Saturday 14 July at The Source, with special offers and vouchers along with Olympics-themed decoration on show throughout the market. The celebration will be launched at 11:30am on Wednesday 11 July with a display by Chinese lion dancers. To find out more visit www.leedsmarkets.co.uk or http://thesourceleeds.co.uk/

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk

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 www.leedsgold.co.uk

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 www.yorkshire-gold.com

ENDS

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

Council steps in to lend a hand in housing regeneration project

The Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck PFI Project is nearing conclusion and the council has stepped in to offer part of the funding for the scheme to ensure it goes ahead.

The project represents a major investment in the regeneration of three of Leeds’ most deprived neighbourhoods and will have a major, positive and sustained impact on the lives of tenants, residents and businesses in these areas.

The council’s executive board will be asked next week (Wednesday 18 July) to approve the recommendation of the re-profiling of the council’s affordability position which will allow the council and sc4L to work together to deliver the project.

The proposed development has overcome a number of hurdles in the past months including the loss of one of the lenders in the project. The majority of the project’s funding requirements will continue to be met by the two remaining lenders.

But a funding shortfall will still remain, and the council has proposed that this should be met through a re-profiling of the council’s contribution to the project.

A number of items have changed within the project, one being the community hub in Little London. The site was originally included in the PFI regeneration of Little London, but was removed after the government value for money review. Since then the council has committed to looking at investment options in the community Hub as part of the larger scale improvement to the local Little London school – this will be handled as a separate project.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“This project has encountered a number of hurdles over the past few months, but we are now getting close to the final stage.

“This community has not seen any investment in terms of housing for a number of years, so it is vital that this scheme goes ahead, and therefore we will be working as a partner in the project.

“We are pleased to be able to say that we will be looking into investment into the community Hub and working with local people on the design of the buildings as part of the larger scale works going on at the school.

“This project will bring much needed benefits to three local inner city communities, with renovated and improved council housing, new energy efficient homes and improvement of the local environment.

“This is an exciting project for Leeds, and will be the largest single area regeneration investment in Leeds for many years and one of the largest housing PFI projects in the country, so it is vital that we do this right."

Notes to editors:

The main programme of works in the scheme includes refurbishment of the 1245 Council homes, construction of 388 new Council homes to rent and environmental improvements to the estate.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children awarded for their achievements



Picture caption: "Mary Kate Joyce from Holy Family Primary School receives her prize at the Gypsy Roma Traveller achievement awards ceremony."


Children from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Leeds were awarded at a special ceremony for their achievements last week.

The awards ceremony, organised by Leeds City Council’s Gypsy Roma Traveller Achievement Service celebrates the children from these communities in Leeds who have achieved a variety of educational success.

The awards have been arranged as part of the national Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month which was pioneered by Leeds City Council five years ago. This annual event raises awareness of and celebrates the communities’ achievements, culture and history, and aims to overcome the prejudice surrounding these often misunderstood communities. It also focuses on ways to improve the achievement of Gypsy Roma and Traveller children, which is currently the lowest of any minority ethnic groups in the UK.

The ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall also awarded the winners in a city-wide Diamond Jubilee postcard competition which invited all children in Leeds to create stories, poems, collages, photographs, drawings or paintings which focus on aspects of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller life. The winning entries have now being entered into a national competition organised by the National Association of Teachers of Travellers and other Professionals (NATT+).

Special guests at the ceremony were the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Ann Castle, and community representative Pearl Cassidy and was hosted by professional Gypsy storyteller Richard O’Neill.

Around 60 achievement awards were handed out for successes in all aspects of life, including: good school attendance; personal success; marked improvements in English and Maths and achieving above national educational levels .

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive member responsible for children’s services said:
"It is crucial that we engage with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community to ensure that these children reach their full potential and to help foster a commitment to education. This is a great celebration of what can be achieved by working together and creating an environment of mutual understanding.

“Our Gypsy, Roma, Traveller achievement service has been opening up a new world of learning and cultural understanding for over 30 years as well as working directly with members of these communities to help them engage and succeed. “

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

Tenants advised to prepare for changes to housing benefit

Over 7,000 Council tenants affected by Government changes to housing benefit rules are to get advice from Leeds City Council on how to cope when the changes come into force next year.

From April 2013, due to the Government’s welfare reforms, council or housing association tenants of working age will see their housing benefit reduced if they have a spare bedroom in their property. Tenants will face a choice of either finding the additional money themselves to enable them to stay in their own home or, if that option is unaffordable, finding smaller accommodation. Pensioners are not affected by this change.

The number of bedrooms a household is entitled to is dependent on the number people living there. The calculation is similar to that currently used by the Council to allocate properties. However, exceptions are currently made to enable certain vulnerable groups to live fulfilling and independent lives but the government reforms will remove these exceptions. As a result, foster carers will not be entitled to additional bedrooms for children in their care, and separated parents will not receive additional room to enable their children to visit on weekends. Disabled Council tenants will not be entitled to an additional room for adaptations to their properties that would enable them to live independently.

Leeds City Council is now writing to the 7,300 tenants who will be affected next year to help them understand the changes and be prepared for how it might effect them. They will also be offered advice on steps they can take to mitigate the impact of the changes.

Tenants who receive a letter are being advised to read it carefully and check that the details the council holds are correct. Local housing providers will also be getting in touch with tenants affected by the change in order to discuss options for dealing with the new rules.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council and executive member responsible for central and corporate services, said:
“I am deeply concerned about the impact that the full range of welfare reforms is going to have on many people across the city, but this particular change is extremely worrying as it will affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“As a responsible Council and social landlord, we want to make sure all affected tenants are fully aware of the impact this may have on them as early as possible so that they can make informed decisions about how to cope with the changes.

“It is sadly inevitable that some people will need to adapt to receiving less housing benefit or move to smaller properties as a consequence of this reform. This will no doubt be an extremely trying time, but rest assured we have teams in place ready to offer support and advice to help minimise any confusion and disruption as far as we possibly can.”

For further information and assistance people are being advised to contact Leeds City Council’s benefits service at lcc.benefits@leeds.gov.uk or 0113 2224404. Alternatively any of the council’s One Stop Centres or local housing offices would be able to help.

Notes:

The new rules come into effect on 1 April 2013 and that they affect housing benefit entitlement and not any tenancy rights.

Under the new housing benefit rules the following occupancy level will be allowed:
  • one bedroom for a single person or a couple;
plus
  • one bedroom for a child; or
  • one bedroom for two children under 10 of opposite genders; or
  • one bedroom for two children of the same gender up to the age of 16;
  • one bedroom for other single people or couples aged 16 or over.

Under the SSSC, there will be no exemption for the following groups, where an additional bedroom is currently allowed under the council’s lettings policy:

  • an unborn child will be included in the bedroom calculation on receipt of proof of pregnancywhere a customer has access to children
  • where a customer requires equipment or adaptations which require more space
  • to allow an adaptable property to be adapted, for example, to enable a through floor lift to be fitted
  • on request from Children and Young People’s Social Care, to facilitate fostering arrangements.

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

Insulation scheme told to get stuffed


Caption: Keith the marsh tit, learns all about Wrap Up Leeds' free stuffing

The Wrap Up Leeds team have welcomed a very unusual guest this week as he takes a break from the latest exhibition by I Love West Leeds festival.

Keith, the stuffed marsh tit, is joining installers to inspect their handy work as they stuff a home with loft and cavity wall insulation.

Leeds’ free insulation scheme teamed up with Keith and offered him a work experience opportunity to get a birds-eye view of how the installation process works and the benefits a well-stuffed-with-insulation-home can bring residents.

Being very well stuffed himself, the team felt there was no-one better than Keith to offer some feedback and tweets of encouragement.

Keith, along with nine of his furred and feathered colleagues left their usual home in the taxidermy collection at Artemis in Holbeck to holiday with families in West Leeds. During their stay they posed for extraordinary portraits with their hosts. The results and all the animals and birds can be seen at the Get Stuffed exhibition, part of the I Love West Leeds festival.

Being especially social media savvy, some of the animals even took to Twitter and started blogging to tell people about their holiday experiences with their hosts.

While his colleagues soak up the limelight at the exhibition in Armley Mills, Keith has been swotting up at Wrap Up Leeds headquarters and is travelling to Garforth to join installers and see first wing the work that they do.

Keith has been tweeting from @WrapUpLeeds throughout his work experience and has said so far:

“Just learnt how to spot filled cavity wall. Job here is done, now to check loft” and “Swotting up on how @WrapUpLeeds free insulation helps Leeds humans. Did you know it saves £300 on fuel bills?”.

Katie Baker, project manager at Yorkshire Energy Services said:

“It’s been great fun having Keith about, and having him help us tell people about the stuffing we’re doing for free.

“There have been a few raised eyebrows and giggles when people realise we have Keith with us, but it’s certainly a talking point. And we know that word of mouth is one of the best ways that people can find out about the scheme. So we hope people enjoy Keith’s tweets – no pun intended – and get in touch.

“While we wouldn’t normally tell people to ‘get stuffed’ in this instance we’re happy to make an exception – as long as people are letting us stuff their lofts and cavity wall with free insulation.”

You can follow Keith at @WrapUpLeeds before he rejoins his friends in the Millspace Gallery at Armley Mills until Sunday 15 July.

Wrap Up Leeds can be contacted on 0800 052 0071 or by email at enquiries@wrapupleeds.co.uk or apply online at www.wrapupleeds.co.uk.

The 0800 number is free from most landline providers, but may not be free from mobile networks. If you would prefer, please call Wrap Up Leeds on 01484 351 779.


About Wrap Up Leeds
Wrap Up Leeds is run in partnership by Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Energy Services, with funding from EDF Energy.

The offer of free loft and/or cavity wall insulation is available to all homeowners and privately rented tenants (where landlord’s permission has been granted) in the Leeds City Council area only.

About Get Stuffed
In June 2012 10 families from West Leeds volunteered for an unusual project involving taxidermy. Each household chose a stuffed animal from the Artemis collection to adopt as an easy-care pet. Artist duo Lord Whitney designed and created an education and activity pack to accompany each animal on its west Leeds summer holiday. Each pack contained animal facts, badges, naming certificates and specially commissioned illustrations from illustrator Kris Sale. Lord Whitney then visited each family in their own home with photographer Liam Henry to take formal portraits.

About Lord Whitney
Lord Whitney is a Leeds based collaboration between Amy Lord and Rebekah Whitney. Inspired by the nonsensical, humorous and the everyday, we approach each new project in an inventive and playful manner.
With an inherent love of the quirky and unusual we were delighted when we were asked to be involved in Get Stuffed. From visiting the outstanding Artemis collection to hearing tales of each animals adventures we have loved every second of the project.
www.lordwhitney.co.uk

About I Love West Leeds Festival
Since 2005 the I Love West Leeds Arts Festival has brought arts events and performances right to people’s doorsteps across the whole of West Leeds. Working with artists, community groups, schools and the general public we create, commission and programme music, film, dance, theatre and arts activities for people of all ages to enjoy and get involved in. From knitted sheds and decorated underpants to classical music in swimming pools and photographs of dead pets we like to mix the fun with the serious to create a festival for everyone.
www.ilovewestleeds.co.uk

About Artemis
Artemis is the artefact and art loan service for children and young people in Leeds. As part of part of Childrens Services, Leeds City Council, we work mainly with Leeds local authority schools. With 10,000 weird and wonderful items, we aim to stimulate and support innovative teaching and learning opportunities. The ethos around Artemis is to provide children, young people (and adults working with them!) with first hand experiences of objects and art that they may not normally come into contact with. The majority of the objects can be handled and explored, giving children and young people a truly hands on experience. Artemis also includes The Schoolroom here at Armley Mills Museum. Children and young people step back in time and find out what life was like for a Victorian or 1940’s schoolchild.

Artemis is keen to support children and young people in a range of settings If you work with children and young people and have a project idea or would like to find out more about how you can access the collection, please get in touch with the Head of Artemis, Jane Zanzottera.
T: 0113 2311087 E: jane.zanzottera@leeds.gov.uk
You can find out more about Artemis and cultural learning opportunities by visiting www.artformsleeds.co.uk or following us on Twitter @ArtemisLeeds

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk


or

Ellie Lyon, Yorkshire Energy Services Marketing Executive on 01484 352010
Email Ellie.Lyon@yorkshireenergyservices.co.uk


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