Monday, 16 July 2012

Leeds extends a right Royal welcome to Her Majesty The Queen

Leeds is busy making major preparations for a very high-profile visit this week as the city is set to welcome Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

And the public will get a unique opportunity to possibly meet The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh as they do a walkabout on Briggate, the city’s central shopping street.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness are coming to Leeds as part of their Diamond Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom and will make three key stops in the city centre to see what it has to offer and to meet local people.

The tour will begin with a visit to Leeds Arena, where Her Majesty will unveil a plaque to top out the £60m entertainment venue, currently under construction. The Royal party will also go to the recently-renovated Leeds City Varieties, during which Leeds will launch its commitment to be a Child Friendly City. Children from more than 130 schools in Leeds will be represented at the Royal visit.

People are being encouraged to come into to city centre on the morning of Thursday July 19 to join in the festivities as the city celebrates the Royal visit. Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh should make their way to the Briggate area in the first half of the morning, arriving no later than 11am. Space is limited, so people are advised to get there early.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Ann Castle, said:
“It is a great honour for Leeds to welcome The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to the city during their Diamond Jubilee tour. We are very pleased to be able to demonstrate to them what a marvellous city Leeds is and how wonderful its people are.

“It is a unique opportunity for us to represent our rich history, what’s happening in the city now and our bright future. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will meet the public on Briggate, the street on which our city was founded more than 800 years ago, and also see inside the recently-restored City Varieties old-time music hall.

“They will also be able to see examples of our ambition to develop our city and people for the future, both inside the new arena and during the launch of our commitment to be a Child Friendly City.”

During their visit The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will meet many local people and children involved in a number of different projects. At the Arena, this will include the construction crew, apprentices and project team. They will also see musical performances and an eye-catching acrobatic display.

When they arrive at the City Varieties they will hear about Leeds’ plans to be a Child Friendly City and watch a short performance by the theatre’s young people’s company of “The Good Old Days”, based on the famous national favourite TV show that used to be filmed at the theatre.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will then go to Briggate for a walkabout, meeting members of the public. This will be followed by a special singing performance given by a group of singers brought together from a number of different choirs from across Leeds.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Ann Castle, will bid farewell to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness.

There will be some minor disruption to local roads on the morning of July 19th, with rolling, short-term closures to ensure the visit goes smoothly, along with the partial closure of The Headrow between Albion Street and Briggate.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Communications Manager, Press & Media Relations
Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335


Council to look at saving money by reducing office space

Leeds council chiefs will be discussing plans to reduce the number of council offices in the city centre in order to save money and improve customer access to council services.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council executive board on Wednesday 18 July 2012, members will be recommended to look at rolling out new ways of working in the city centre and reducing the number of buildings in the council’s city centre office portfolio. This will include essential investment in Merrion House, one of the council’s key office buildings in an important regeneration area of the city centre.

The proposal will see the bringing together of staff into four key city centre buildings including Civic Hall, Merrion House, Enterprise House and St George’s House to allow the release of seven other buildings.

As part of the move to bring staff into key buildings, there would be a major refurbishment and extension of Merrion House in partnership with the current owners, Town Centre Securities. This refurbishment will provide flexible and fit for purpose city centre office space increasing the occupancy from 1200 employees to over 1900 plus the development of a new customer services facility providing a single point of access to all council services in the city centre.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“As part of this proposal we are looking to significantly decrease the number of buildings that we occupy and save council taxpayers money. This work will allow for more flexible and efficient working, and will also allow us to save a significant amount of money. Over a 25 year period we expect to see savings of over £15million.

“There is a large amount of refurbishment and maintenance work that needs to be undertaken at Merrion House, and under the existing lease arrangement the council is responsible for this. It therefore makes sense in the long term to invest in refurbishing the building to make it more modern and accessible for flexible working, as well as supporting the regeneration of a key part of the city centre, linking closely with the Arena development and the proposals to further improve the Merrion Centre.

“As part of our ambition to become the best city in the UK we need to make sure we offer efficient and easy to access services to the people of Leeds, and the new customer services facility will enable us to do this, working closely with our partners.”

Edward Ziff, Chairman and Chief Executive of Town Centre Securities PLC said:
“TCS is delighted to be working in partnership with Leeds City Council to deliver improved services and cost savings in a new flexible and efficient workplace which forms part of the continuing rejuvenation of the Merrion Centre”.

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

Motorists warned of traffic delays on Farnley Bridge in the Summer

Leeds City Council is starting essential work on the 23rd July to repair Farnley Bridge on the Leeds outer ring road.

The work is expected to last for approximately six weeks and will involve road closures and traffic diversions on a major commuter route. To minimise disruption the work has been planned to start and finish over the school holiday period.

Farnley Bridge is located in west Leeds and carries the A6110 dual carriageway over Farnley Beck. Inspections of the bridge have identified excessive water seeping through the bridge deck, due to a failing waterproofing system. To prevent further deterioration, essential work is needed to strengthen and waterproof parts of the existing bridge.

To allow the work to take place, the following traffic measures will be in force:
The south-bound carriageway between the Butt Lane and Pudsey Road roundabouts will be subject to lane closures during the off-peak hours of 9:30am to 15:30pm and 18:30pm to 20:00pm.

One lane on the northbound carriageway between the Butt Lane and Pudsey Road roundabouts will be closed to traffic during the day throughout the period of the works.

The northbound carriageway will be closed to traffic at night between the hours of 20:00 and 5:30am with a diversion route in place. Access to side roads and properties will be available at all times.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member responsible for city development, said:

“This is essential repair work to a major commuter route. While we understand that there will be disruption to motorists, we cannot avoid doing the work and we have scheduled it for the period when it is likely to cause the least inconvenience to commuters.

“We will work to complete it as soon as possible. Traffic signs will be clearly posted to help traffic around the work and traffic diversion route with all signage will be in place.

“We advise motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journey.”

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

Elect your own way to register as a voter in Leeds

People in Leeds are being reminded to make the most of modern methods to ensure their names are on the electoral register in time to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections on 15 November.

Time is running out to return electoral registration forms, but Leeds City Council will still accept returns until August 15. After that officers will, by law, have to pay people home visits to collect the forms.

You should include the names of everyone eligible to vote in your household. If there are no changes to your details you can let the council know by text message, online or by calling a special Freephone number. Forms may also be returned free by post in the pre-paid envelope provided, although the council will save 30p for every household that uses text or internet instead.

Susanna Benton, Electoral Services Manager, Leeds City Council, said:
“The canvass is happening earlier this year due to the elections on 15 November. Households are encouraged to respond quickly so they don’t lose their right to vote.

“We have tried to make it as easy as possible for people to respond to us by making use of modern communication methods. It helps us tremendously in cutting down on costs if people can respond via text or online if their details are unchanged and makes the process quicker and easier for everyone.”

Whichever method you choose, make sure you get your response back as soon as possible. Doing this quickly will also save the council further costs in sending out reminders by post or following up with visits to homes to check details, as required by law.

People with no changes should email, call Freephone 0808 284 1450, text 07786 209 350 or visit to confirm this.

If you have further queries you can call the LCC elections helpline on 0113 224 4411. It is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335


Training agency to tackle youth unemployment in Leeds

Council chiefs in Leeds will be asked to approve the establishment of the Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) at a meeting of the executive board this week.

As part of plans to support businesses and help more young people into work, the proposed Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency will aim to match young people, who are job ready and want to find careers, to apprenticeships with local businesses who want to skill and grow their workforce.

As part of the recently announced City Deal, Leeds City Council, along with its partners have new powers to enable and deliver further investment in skills to support business growth and create new opportunities for young people.

The council will work in partnership with Leeds City College operating as a jointly owned and separate company limited through guarantee. The council and the college have already demonstrated their commitment to the project and with the new City Deal that was announced last week, the city is in a fantastic position to progress this.

The ATA will support small businesses that are unable to take the risk of directly employing an apprentice themselves, and therefore opens up a much larger group of businesses to the apprenticeship market.

The establishment of the ATA forms part of a wider range of opportunities in Leeds which are being developed to support both businesses and young people to gain skills and start work. .

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

“With the exciting news last week about opportunities through the City Deal, we are well placed to start the Apprenticeship Training Agency in the autumn.

“We need to move beyond the traditional offers from education and employment programmes and offer a wider range of opportunities across the city, with apprenticeship being at the core of what we do.

“There has been a significant increase in youth unemployment since the recession and it is important that we do something to combat this, and working with local, smaller companies is one way of doing this.

“We already have some fantastic apprenticeships running in the city, however, we want to make sure that many more employers and young people engage with this opportunity to start their careers.

“The Leeds ATA would represent a major investment in the city’s young people and support local businesses, and continue the significant growth in apprenticeships which the city saw last year."

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