Thursday, 12 July 2012

Muslim pupils celebrate their heritage in Roundhay’s ‘secret garden’

Picture caption: (top) Sameena Choudry (adult left) and Therese O'Sullivan (adult left) with youngsters enjoying the Secret Garden Celebration event at Roundhay Park.

Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils across Leeds who have been taking part in an innovative project have been taking part in a celebration event today.

To celebrate the success of the ‘Secret Garden’ project pupils from 11 primary schools in Leeds headed to the Alhambra Garden at Roundhay park today to enjoy a host of Islam based entertainment.

The Secret Garden is a curriculum topic developed by the Equalities and Entitlement Team at Leeds City Council to raise attainment of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils in Leeds primary schools.

To celebrate the success of this innovative curriculum topic and to provide the pupils with the opportunity to show their achievements to a wider audience, pupils, staff and parents from each school attended the celebration event. Talented poets and musicians from the community provided entertainment. Pupils held workshops demonstrating some of the new skills and knowledge they have learned through the topic and there were also poetry recitals in both Urdu and English, as well as musical and dance performances.

Sameena Choudry head of equalities and entitlement said:
“This has been a fantastic project and the children have been so enthusiastic and keen to learn about their heritage.

“This event is a celebration of the rich cultural, linguistic and literary heritage of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community and a great opportunity for the children to show their excellent work and receive the praise they deserve.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:

“The excellent quality of the work the children have produced demonstrates how enthusiastic they are about this project.

“Projects like this which make learning fun and relevant are great at increasing pupils’ attainment and attendance as well as encouraging family members to become more involved with their children’s learning.”

Using the Alhambra gardens at Roundhay Park as a source of inspiration, the teachers in 11 schools (Bankside, Bracken edge, Brudenell, Harehills, Hillcrest, Hovingham, Hunslet Moor, Carr Manor, Cross Flatts Park, Moor Allerton Hall and Rosebank) planned an exciting topic where pupils designed their own Islamic gardens, produced pieces of writing, studied geometric shapes in mathematics, and discovered more about Mughal gardens and the significance of gardens to Islam.

As part of the topic pupils were also provided with opportunities the council’s museums and galleries, Artemis, John Siddique, renowned Yorkshire author, Ghulam Farid, talented calligrapher as well as various community guest speakers.

Therese O’Sullivan project leader and event organiser said:
“Thanks to all the teachers and pupils from all the schools involved for their enthusiasm and hard work in making this project such a great success. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible.”

The topic was a resounding success leading to improved attainment for the majority of pupils as well as increased attendance and greater engagement of families and the wider community in school life and pupil’s learning.

The Alhambra Garden at Roundhay park is a replica of one of the many Islamic gardens from the Nasrid dynasty at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

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

Queenshill Avenue to close through the summer

Queenshill Avenue in Moortown is to be closed to traffic in the daytime while major work takes place to improve the footways.

Old kerbs are being replaced and the pavements are being excavated and resurfaced. The work will greatly improve the appearance of the avenue. However, for safety reasons the whole road has to be closed while work is carried out.

It is anticipated the avenue will be closed for eight weeks from Monday to Friday from 0800 to 16:00, beginning Tuesday 17th July. The carriageway will be refurbished later in the summer.

Local residents will still be able to access their homes and diversions will be signed for people wishing to drive through the estate.

Local people have all been informed of the work by letter and signs have been placed at either end of the street to give advanced warning to motorists.

Leeds City Council apologises for delays or inconvenience while this work is underway.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said:
“This work will take some time to complete but it will greatly improve both the safety and the appearance of the avenue.

“We're sorry for any inconvenience caused by the closures. However this is a busy road which is used by commuters and without closing the road we couldn’t ensure it was safe for road users, residents and the workmen.”


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

Funding bid aims to revolutionise waste collection services

If successful, a funding bid could see the amount, type and frequency of waste collection services in Leeds change dramatically.

Senior councillors are being asked to approve a £17.6 million bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that would allow the council to transform recycling services by collecting food waste from 254,000 Leeds homes each week.

When they meet on Wednesday 18 July members of the council’s executive board will hear about the proposals to keep 96,000 tonnes of food from rotting in landfill sites over the next five years.

If councillors approve and if the bid to DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Fund is successful, weekly food collections would complement a planned pilot to collect green bins more often from 40,000 Leeds homes. The trial is due to start this financial year.

The plans are part of a bold approach to up recycling rates across the city agreed by executive board in December 2011.

The funding on offer would pay for the new service until 2014/15. Money saved beyond 2014/15 by moving to fortnightly black and green bin collections, and from sending waste to the proposed incinerator instead of landfill, would be re-invested and allow food waste collection services to continue after this time.

As well as saving money and cutting emissions, the new collection service could create over 100 jobs and open up the potential for the council to generate green energy.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“This is exactly the type of service that residents have been asking us for, and this significant funding will help us to extend the food waste collections that we currently offer in our city. Although our recycling rates continue to improve, if we want to realise our ambitious recycling targets we must offer these enhanced services.

“Food waste makes up over a quarter of what we throw away in the black bins so if we can capture and deal with this waste separately, we can adapt our services to allow people to recycle different types of waste more frequently.

“Along with the incinerator, these are changes to our waste services the like of which we haven’t seen before. But we’re not starting from scratch. We have the experience of the highly successful Rothwell food collections behind us to act as a template for the rest of the city.”

Over 8,400 residents in Rothwell already have their food waste collected and turned into compost every week. Rothwell residents recycle almost double that of Leeds households with standard bin services – they have fortnightly collections of black and green bins, weekly collections of food waste and fortnightly garden waste collections at suitable properties.

If the council were to be awarded the full amount, the £17.6 million would be invested in the kit and staff needed to deliver the service by: buying 25 new vehicles to collect food waste and 254,000 bins and kitchen caddies for residents; providing a regular supply of bin liners; investing in the development of a depot needed to house the new vehicles and crews; installing another two new gas re-fuelling stations to ensure a steady supply of green vehicle fuel; support the planning of collection routes; and providing advice and support to residents in adapting to the new collection services.

It’s anticipated that over 100 new members of staff would be required to crew the collection vehicles.

The food waste collected in Rothwell is currently sent to a local facility that turns it into compost. But other options for treating this waste are being explored, opening up other opportunities for the council to reduce its environmental impact even further.

The council is investigating the feasibility of a facility for Leeds to turn food waste into fertilizer and biogas – potentially to fuel its own vehicles – through a process called anaerobic digestion.

This process would also avoid the current landfilling of food waste from homes and other producers, helping the council reduce the city’s emissions even more.

Notes to editors

About the DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Fund:
• Announced in Feburary 2012, the fund is designed to allow local authorities to introduce, retain or reinstate weekly bin collections.
• However, councils who had already announced they would move from weekly to fortnightly collections without weekly food waste collections before the fund was launched, are eligible to bid for funds to introduce weekly food waste collections – Leeds City Council falls into this category.
• Final submissions must be made to DCLG by 17 August 2012.
• A decision is expected in October 2012.

About new weekly food waste and fortnightly bin collections:
• Executive Board approved the trial of fortnightly bin collections for 40,000 homes in December 2011.
• The pilot will begin before the end of financial year 2012/13.
• No decisions have been made on where the trial will be. A further report will be submitted after consultation with local councillors.
• If approved, weekly food collections would start in the fortnightly bin collection pilot area with food waste collections being rolled out to 75% of the city throughout 2013/14 and the roll out completed in 2014/15 to 80% of all Leeds homes.
• No decisions have been made on the location of a new depot.

About the Rothwell food waste collection service:
• Since February 2010, over 2,000 tonnes of food waste have been collected and composted from 8,400 Rothwell homes.
• At the time of the evaluation, Rothwell residents were recycling 53% of their rubbish, compared to 28% across the rest of Leeds.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


It's all stations go for Millgarth

Leeds City Council is set to buy the former police headquarters at Millgarth, if senior councillors agree the decision next week.

The deal reflects the Council strategy to secure land holdings around the Eastgate Quarter to support Hammerson’s major retail-led development project.

The building, which is currently owned by the West Yorkshire Police Authority, has the potential to be turned into a car park next to the planned prestigious Eastgate Quarters scheme containing retail, catering and leisure units.

The site, seen as a strategic investment opportunity for the Council, will become vacant when West Yorkshire Police move from Millgarth to their new divisional headquarters at Elland Road. This, together with a replacement city centre neighbourhood policing base and public contact point, are due to be completed in 2014.

If the executive board approves the purchase in principle, council officials will agree final terms for the purchase.

Eastgate Quarters development is expected to generate 4,000 jobs in leisure and retail.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and the economy said:“Eastgate Quarters is an exciting prospect for Leeds and an important element in the future development of the city’s economy as well as a significant regeneration programme in this part of the city centre.

“It will bring thousands of jobs to the city and will mean our retail sector can continue to grow in order to compete with other major British cities and also attract international visitors and investors.

“As a council we want do everything we can to support Hammerson as a developer and to provide high quality facilities which will encourage shoppers to come into the city centre and to stay there for longer.

“The purchase of the Millgarth site is an important step forward for the Eastgate development, providing the capacity for essential car parking facilities which, working alongside our public transport system, are key to attracting shoppers and visitors to the city.”

The Eastgate Quarter is one of a number of projects designed to promote economic growth in Leeds. Others include the Arena and the Trinity retail and leisure scheme – both scheduled to open in 2013 – and the Sovereign St development sites with KPMG which are due for completion in 2015.


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

Don’t miss out on Leeds’ first music summer camp

The closing date for bookings for Leeds City Council’s first ever music summer camp has been extended to make sure no one misses out.

The event for young people aged 9 to 16, will be held at the West Park Centre from 29 to 31 August and offers a fantastic range of music activities, catering for all interests and abilities. The closing date to book a place is now Friday 20 July.

Young people can sing and dance their way through hits from the charts and shows or try out Rock / Bandaoke and get a chance to play or sing in a rock band

The summer camp will give young people the opportunity to try out lots of different music and dance activities like DJing or poetry slam. People of all abilities are welcome even if they’ve never tried the activities before.

There will even be lessons to learn the latest craze – the Ukulele, people can go from beginner to band member in one day.

Beginners can also get into carnival mood, creating upbeat rhythms on Steel Pans or Dhol Drums. Players of wind, brass and folk instruments will also find plenty to do.

Places are available for one, two or all three days – prices start at just £25 per day, and instruments are provided for those who need them.

There are also generous fee concessions for those on free school meals, thanks to a grant from the Inner West Area Committee.

For more information contact: Artforms, Leeds City Council, 0113 230 4074

For media enquiries, please contact:
Frances Bernstein, Music Centre Coordinator on 0113 230 4074 or 07759 563 848
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Top ten worst offending eyesore sites in Leeds identified

Leeds City Council has identified the top ten worst eyesore sites in the city with a view to working on them to bring them back into use.

Next week at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, members will be asked to approve work starting on the top ten list and continue this work into the next few years of the programme.

Earlier in the year the council’s executive board agreed a rolling budget of £500,000 to tackle eyesore sites across the city across three years, and now the worst offenders have been identified work can start to improve these buildings.

The top ten sites identified are:

2 Branch Road, Armley
Chapeltown Road Old Gurdwara and Hindu Temple
Former Jyoti video shop, 195 Chapeltown Road
Former Lingfield Public House, Alwoodley
Former Mobil service station, Chapeltown Road
Seacroft Grange, York Road
Former Lord Cardigan Public House, Bramley
The Hermitage, 31-37 High Street, Kippax
Former South Leeds Sports centre
Former Ralph Thoresby School site

The list of identified sites across the city has now reached 67, with a mixture of council and privately owned property.

The list will be worked though prioritising action on those properties which have the most significant impact on neighbourhoods or district centres. Phase one of the project will include 34 properties, and work will begin on each of these properties in the next year.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“There are a large number of sites and buildings which are unused, derelict or in a poor state of repair across the city.

“So far improvements have already been made to five properties; the former Middleton Arms, former Cottingley Arms, Park Lees Adult Education Centre and the Lord Cardigan Public House in Bramley, all of which have been demolished. Work has also started on the clean up and improvement works to the fomer petrol station on Broad Lane in Bramley.

“We have a list of over 60 sites already that we have identified and will be taking swift action to start to tackle them. There are improvements to some of the sites that we will be able to secure quickly, but a number on the list will require a concerted effort over a number of years.”

“This scheme is not simply about making a list and then doing nothing. We really want to work with owners of buildings to ensure that these sites do not blight areas in the city and are not simply just tidied up, but brought back into use.

“We are not just targeting privately owned buildings either – we know we have our own sites that are suffering, and we will, where possible, be looking at what we can do with these sites to lead by example.”

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