Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The improved A65. Travel the easy way

Local transport minister Norman Baker unveils the commemorative plaque with Leeds City Council's Cllr Richard Lewis

From left to right: Giles Fearnley (First UK Bus), Norman Baker, Cllr James Lewis, Cllr Richard Lewis

The improved A65 in Leeds was officially opened today marking the completion of a new £21million public transport scheme, which is set to deliver a range of benefits to bus users, cyclists and pedestrians.

Transport minister Norman Baker visited Leeds to see the improvements for himself, travelling on a new low emissions bus from the city centre to Kirkstall lights and then back to the Willow Road junction, where he unveiled a commemorative plaque.

With over 45,000 vehicles travelling along it each day, the A65 was at maximum capacity. Without intervention congestion was set to worsen, with heavy traffic extending beyond peak travel periods.

Construction work to provide a high standard bus service on the route started in April 2010. And despite problems with bad weather earlier this year, the scheme was completed on time and on budget in August 2012.

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.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for the economy and development said:
“The A65 Quality Bus Scheme is undoubtedly one of the most significant transport improvements in Leeds in recent years. It will provide a massive boost to our transport system, vastly improving bus journey times and reducing congestion around the city centre.

“I am delighted that the scheme is now completed and was done so on time and on budget. It has been exceptionally managed throughout, and is a great credit to everyone involved.

“It will make a positive difference to commuter traffic coming in and out of the city centre along one of our most congested routes.”

Local transport minister Norman Baker said:
"It is great to be in Leeds to see the completion of this congestion-busting scheme which will transform travel on the A65 and help to boost growth in the city.

"The project will deliver more reliable journeys and attractive, state-of-the-art bus facilities – it is a win-win for local residents, commuters and businesses. I am also pleased that Leeds have managed to bring the scheme in on budget.

“Investment in important schemes like this across the country demonstrates the Coalition Government’s commitment to making sure that the infrastructure is in place for the economy to grow both regionally and nationally, while also cutting carbon by encouraging greater bus use.”

Councillor James Lewis, chair of Metro said:
"This project shows how, by working together, we can deliver high-quality transport solutions which benefit not just bus passengers but also cyclists and ordinary motorists. I'm obviously delighted that we have been able to deliver the scheme on time and on budget and it shows that, locally, we have the skills and expertise to manage major schemes like these.

"Earlier this summer came confirmation that a new, combined authority would be formed covering not just transport but other areas to help stimulate economic and employment growth, and the announcement of the City Deal for Leeds City Region, including the launch of the West Yorkshire-Plus Transport Fund, which will lead to more major schemes such as this one."

Giles Fearnley, First UK Bus managing director, said:
“This is fantastic news for all bus passengers travelling along the A65 to and from Leeds. They will now be able to rely on more reliable, and in many cases, shorter journey times.

"First is investing £20m to replace 25% of its Leeds’ fleet with 98 new low emission buses. These will be in service in the next four weeks on services across Leeds, including those operating along the A65.

"We are confident that the combination of more reliable journeys and new, modern buses will attract even more passengers."

The A65 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 passenger shelters with real time travel information
 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 in October)

Additional info

The A65 Quality Bus Scheme was delivered in partnership by Leeds City Council, Metro and bus operators First, Transdev and Centrebus. The council was awarded grant funding of almost £21m by the Department for Transport to construct the improved A65.

For more information about the A65 Quality Bus Scheme, please visit the Leeds City Council website

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

Clean sweep at award ceremony for staff

Staff celebrate their qualification on Civic Hall steps

Council staff are celebrating after cleaning up with a nationally recognised qualification.

59 staff from the street cleaning operational team have been awarded an NVQ level two in cleaning and support services skills.

Employees were recognised for their achievements at a ceremony last week.

This was the first time many of the staff had undergone a process leading to a formal qualification. The NVQ was specifically designed to test their knowledge, recognise their skills and to give them confidence and a qualification in their role.

Assessors shadowed staff at on the job and questioned them on their background knowledge.

Staff were assessed on their ability and knowledge to deal with duties such as safely reducing risks to health and safety in the work place; communicating effectively and performing street cleansing mechanically.

Having successfully completed the qualification, staff were presented their certificates by Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, Neil Evans, director of environments and neighbourhood, Peter Robinson, CEO Nordic Pioneer and service managers and supervisors.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

"We work hard to train staff and I’m delighted at the achievements of our street cleaning operational team. I hope they’ll continue to take up and benefit from this training moving forward in their roles.

“Keeping Leeds clean and tidy is a huge task and we want to ensure that this work is done to the highest standard. The NVQ training will help us improve these vital services for local people.”


Notes to editors:

Training was provided by Nordic Pioneer Ltd, an award-winning company specialising in providing apprenticeships and training within the cleaning, waste management and housing sectors.

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

Locals continue to plan for the future of the area

As part of progressing the neighbourhood plan in Holbeck a walkabout event is being held this weekend.

The government approved a bid for Holbeck to be one of the first inner-city areas in the country to prepare a neighbourhood plan earlier in the year, and this is the next in a succession of community events to move the plan forward.

The event is on Sunday 16th September, meeting at 1.00pm at the community room in Ingram Gardens, Holbeck. Small groups will then walk around Holbeck identifying what’s good and not so good about the area. This will then be used to help to define the boundary for the plan.

The Holbeck forum was created earlier in the year from members who live, work and do business in the Holbeck area.

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

“The Neighbourhood Plan offers a great opportunity for all those who live or work in Holbeck or have an interest in the area to develop a plan which can have a significant impact in shaping how the area develops in the future.

“We want to hear from everyone in the area to make sure we make how the plan develops is a matter for local residents and community organisations and businesses in the area to shape the future.”

Dennis Kitchen, Acting Chair of the Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum:

“I would encourage as many people who live, work and do business in Holbeck to join us for this walkabout on Sunday 16th. Any observations on Holbeck as a neighbourhood from the people going out on the walkabout will help in developing the Neighbourhood Plan for Holbeck.”

Notes to editors:

The government have provided £20,000 to help local people in Holbeck to prepare a neighbourhood plan.


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