Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Council to make clean energy support bid

Leeds City Council is stepping up its efforts to turn a vision of a cleaner, greener city into a reality.

Today, senior councillors have heard that the city is ahead of schedule to meet carbon reduction targets.

Harmful carbon dioxide emissions fell by 14.4% between 2005 and 2009 and if emissions continue to fall at the same rate, the city will be on track to cut emissions by 40% by 2020.

Members of the executive board have approved a bid to a European support fund to help the council tackle even bigger energy projects that will significantly improve the city’s environmental performance.

Projects that have already helped cut emissions include: adapting council buildings with energy efficient technology saving over 1,600 tonnes of CO2; installing free insulation in 5,000 homes with Wrap Up Leeds cutting over 5,000 tonnes of CO2 so far; and Leeds has more BREEAM excellent rated buildings – a measure of how green, efficient and sustainable a building is from design to construction and use – than any other comparable city.

To ensure that the headway in reducing emissions already made can be maintained, the council will be submitting an expression of interest to the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) fund.

ELENA helps by providing technical support to develop projects that will allow councils to generate their own energy or help others save energy.

If successful, the council would receive 90% of the funding needed to turn big ideas that are technically feasible into robust, realistic business cases that the private sector would want to invest in.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“We’re pleased that emissions are reducing. We’re tackling what we control as an organisation but if the ambitious 40% target is to be met, we need to continue to improve.

“Most of Leeds’ emissions comes from energy in one form or another but as a local authority, generating energy isn’t our primary focus. To make sure that we can create the right conditions for investment and bolster the green economy, getting support from ELENA would represent a major step forward for us as a city, not just a council.”

The council would use support from ELENA to make district heating projects, energy efficiency programmes for residential and commercial buildings and development of fuelling stations for gas and electric vehicles commercially viable.

The ELENA bid forms one of the actions the council is taking to deliver its commitments in Leeds’ climate change strategy.

Launched in July 2009, the city’s climate change strategy explains what organisations across the city will do to stop harmful carbon emissions being released into Leeds’ atmosphere and help Leeds adapt to conditions a changing climate will bring.

The strategy is being revised to reflect the progress already made and will be re-launched soon.

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


ENDS

Leeds to consult on charging structure for adult social care services

Leeds City Council’s executive board has given the go ahead for a public consultation to take place regarding proposals to changes in charging for non-residential adult social care services, at their meeting today.

The consultation will take place from August to October 2012 involving around 20000 customers, as well as carers, customer and carer led groups, voluntary, community and faith sector organisations, partners, staff and elected members.

Leeds has always been a low charging authority for its adult social care services. However, in the context of government funding cuts and the council having to make savings of £145million over the last two years, inconsistencies in the charging structure now need to be addressed.

Bringing charges closer to those of other authorities will put Leeds on a more level playing field with other councils across the country, who are also struggling with increasing demand for care packages for older people and people with learning disabilities. Charges for people in Leeds whose social care support needs are substantial or critical would still be means tested and the majority of people currently using services at this level would see no change in their payments.

In July 2011, senior councillors agreed to the removal of subsidies that were previously applied to charges for non-residential adult social care services such as home care, supported living, day care and transport services.

Despite this, the level of customer contributions being generated in Leeds is still below average when compared to other core cities. The reasons for this are inconsistencies with the current charging structure, some services are not charged for at all, and the financial assessment in Leeds takes a lower amount of people’s income and savings into account than other local authorities.

The views collected during the consultation will feed in to a report to be presented to executive board later this financial year for a final decision.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“Leeds, the same as many other local authorities, continues to face a huge financial challenge as the number of older people in our communities continues to grow, at the same time that council budgets are being cut.

“We need to have sustainable services in place for our most vulnerable adults. This public consultation will allow us to talk directly to our customers and other interested parties about what we need to do to address inequalities and ensure that our charging policy is robust and fair.

"The council has looked closely at how it delivers adult social care services over the past 18 months, and is committed to creating better lives for the people that depend on them.

“However, demand for our non-residential services continues to grow and we simply do not have the resources available to support people to live independently in their own homes without addressing this shortfall in funding.”

Ends

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

Leeds hoard named among top historical UK finds of last 20 years



Caption: The West Yorkshire Hoard has been named among the most important UK finds of the last 20 years (image courtesy of Trustees of British Museum)

A hoard of historic golden treasure found in the Leeds area which dates back to the seventh century has this week been named among the top 50 archaeological finds discovered in Britain by members of the public over the last 20 years.

The find, which has become known as the ‘West Yorkshire Hoard’ made up of seven objects of Anglo-Saxon jewellery, can be seen on display in Leeds City Museum after it was secured for the city after a successful fundraising drive by The Friends of Leeds City Museums and The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society last year.

And this week the collection, which was discovered in 2008 and 2009 in a location which cannot be identified in order to protect the site, has been named by experts working for The British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) among the leading finds in the UK of the last two decades.

The collection will feature in tonight’s episode of ‘Britain's Secret Treasures’ on ITV1, which is counting down the list of the top 50 UK finds based on archaeological and historical significance, as well as aesthetic and narrative appeal.

Six of the objects in the hoard are gold jewellery dating from the seventh to 11th centuries, with the most spectacular being a stunning gold ring with a lozenge-shaped bezel set with a garnet gem which is in near-perfect condition.

The objects were discovered in the same location in two stages with the first five items of jewellery found in 2008 before an additional gold ring and spindle whorl were discovered the following year. No information is known as to the original owner or how the objects came to be in the spot where they were found.

The hoard is highly significant on a local and national scale, indicating the presence of high status inhabitants and the gold rings sit alongside the Leeds Parish Church cross as signs of an Anglo-Scandinavian identity in the Leeds area. Along with other finds like The Staffordshire Hoard, the collection also helps redraw the map of power in early Medieval England.

Head of collections for Leeds museums and galleries Camilla Nichol said:

“The West Yorkshire Hoard is a fascinating story and it is fantastic that it has now recognised as a nationally-important find. The hoard is proudly on display in Leeds City Museum as part of the incredible Leeds museums’ collection, so for anyone who has not seen it yet it is well worth a visit.”

To find out more about Leeds City Museum, visit the website at www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Leeds-City-Museum.aspx

ENDS

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