Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Congestion busting bus scheme ready to go

New bus lanes forming part of a major new scheme to improve bus journeys along the A65, one of the busiest commuter routes in Leeds, have opened today.

The improvements to the A65 between Kirkstall Lane and the Inner Ring Road, will help to ease congestion and make journeys to and from the city centre quicker and easier, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

Construction work to provide a high standard bus service on the heavily congested route into Leeds city centre started in April 2010. And although inclement weather earlier in the year led to some delays, having a full night shift running for most of July has enabled the improved A65 to be completed on budget and on time.

Work will continue until early September to fully complete the project, with lane closures in operation at night, but only minor delays are expected. The improved A65 will be officially opened by Norman Baker MP (Under-Secretary of State for Transport) on Wednesday 12 September.

The improvements include:
 4km of new dedicated bus lane covering inbound and outbound journeys
 Six additional pedestrian crossings making the roads safer and linking communities
 11 new bus shelters with real time travel information (by mid September)
 Provision for cyclists to use the new lane and enjoy a safer and easier ride
 New buses from the London 2012 Olympics, with low level access (arriving October)

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member responsible for the economy and development said:
"I am delighted that the A65 Quality Bus Scheme is now completed and ready to be opened. It is the result of years of planning and hard work and will really make a positive difference to commuter traffic coming in and going out of the city along one of the most congested routes.

“This scheme is undoubtedly one of the most significant transport improvements in Leeds in the past several years. It will bring a massive boost to the transport system in Leeds, vastly improving bus journey times and reducing congestion around the city centre.

"The scheme has been exceptionally managed and it is a great credit to everyone involved that it has been completed within the agreed time programme and within budget."

Additional info

This is a partnership scheme involving Leeds City Council, Metro and bus operators First, Transdev and Centrebus. It is funded centrally through finance secured from the Department for Transport.

Leeds City Council was awarded grant funding of almost £20m by the Department for Transport to construct the improved A65.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Council to consider site provision for Gypsies and Travellers

Leeds City Council is starting a consultation around a recommendation to extend the current permanent Gypsy and Traveller site at Cottingley Springs.

Earlier this year, Leeds City Council’s executive board asked officers to look for a permanent traveller site in the city that could form an area to accommodate the 11 roadside families that are currently forming unauthorised camps across the city.

After an extensive review of all available sites in the council’s ownership, none of the sites were deemed appropriate. In light of this decision, at a meeting of the council’s executive board in September 2012 it will be recommended that councillors agree to look into the extension of Cottingley Springs.

The Council has already secured funding from the Homes and Community Agency for just over £1million to develop 12 new pitches for gypsies and travellers.

Along with looking at the possibility of extending the site, executive members will also be recommended to complement the expansion with the modernisation of the current site.

The council will be consulting with key stakeholders across the city including local residents to the area and the gypsy and traveller community amongst others.

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

“There are still issues in our city with the cycle of encampment and eviction, and this is costing the taxpayer money through legal action and site clear ups. This is not a situation we want to continue, therefore we had to look into alternatives.

“We have carried out extensive searches into all possible council sites in the city to see what can be immediately proposed and the possible extension of Cottingley Springs seems the right way forward.

“We have already secured funding from the HCA to develop 12 new permanent pitches, and therefore we should be able to use this money should we go ahead with developing Cottingley Springs.
“There is a definite need for permanent site allocation and we need to fulfil this commitment.”

At present Cottingley Springs has 41 pitches located on two different sub sites. The further 12 pitches will be created through better use of the current space and the land immediately adjacent.

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

New website launched to help tackle drinking related crime

A new website and smartphone application have been launched to help pub, bar and club owners to work together and deal with drinking related crime in the city.

The new technology has come about through the Safer Leeds run Pubwatch scheme, which is a national scheme that allows cities to combat drink related crime. The scheme is run voluntarily by licensees and is supported by the Safer Leeds Partnership which includes Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and other agencies.

All pubs, clubs and bars signed up to the Pubwatch scheme will have the option to access the website and share information about criminal and anti social behaviour in real time. Along with having access to local information, pubs and bars will be able to post who they have barred, or thrown out and where they may be heading.

*********Media opportunity ********

All media are invited to the launch of the new website and smartphone application at the Adelphi pub in 1-3 Hunslet Road, Leeds on Thursday 16 August 2012 at 10am.
There will be a demonstration of the website and smart phone application and staff will be available for interview, as will representatives from the pubs involved in the Pubswatch Scheme.

*********Media opportunity ********

There are 16 licencees already signed up to the Leeds Pubwatch scheme and the website will allow pubs, clubs and partner agencies to share information in real time about criminal and anti social behaviour in and around the premises.

The website will provide a central hub to allow information to be securely shared amongst members and partners from minutes, training information, policies and procedures.

As an innovative addition to the website – a smartphone application will also be available. The application will allow door staff and managers to be able to instantly check to see if someone has been banned from all pubwatch member premises.

There will also be a real time communication function where licensees will be able to instantly text each other should someone be ejected from their premises, thereby giving other licensees an early warning that troublemakers are heading there way.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council chair of Safer Leeds and executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“The new website will offer pubs, bars and clubs signed up to the Pubwatch scheme an excellent up to date portal of what is happening in their area. They will be able to communicate quickly about troublemakers and make sure they are up to date with what is happening.

“Whilst licensees do not take the decision to ban someone lightly, will also be a single point of contact for any banned persons wishing to appeal against the decision of their local pubwatch.

“All licensees have a legal duty to ensure that disorderly, argumentative and violent behaviour does not occur on their premises and to prevent the occurrence of criminal offences.

“The smart phone ap will allow information to be updated constantly so that all involved with the scheme are all aware with what is happening in the local area.”

Superintendent Keith Gilert, who heads the city’s community safety partnership Safer Leeds, said:

“The launch of the website adds a valuable new dimension to the city’s Pubwatch initiative. It will give licensees the ability to quickly access all the latest information and help them work more closely in partnership with the authorities to improve safety in our bars, pubs and clubs.”

Notes to editors:
Leeds Pubwatch is a crime reduction initiative created to reduce alcohol related crime in licensed premises modelled on the National Pubwatch Guidelines. Leeds Pubwatch schemes are voluntarily run by licensees and are supported by Safer Leeds Partnership which includes Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and other agencies.

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