Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Double celebration for disabled young adults

Young disabled adults are having a double celebration this week, with a brand new place to learn and a more secure future for their education service.

Learners who attend the Vine education service will be joined by special guests to celebrate the official opening of their new premises.

Vine is an education service for young people aged 19 to 25 who have a variety of complex needs including physical, learning and health needs. It is provided by Leeds City Council in partnership with Leeds City College.

An official opening event is taking place on Friday 12 October to celebrate their move to new purpose built premises. Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for children’s services will be performing a plaque unveiling. She will be joined by staff and learners from Vine and Leeds City College, as well as surprise guests from Leeds Rhinos (who might bring along their Super League Trophy!).

Media opportunity:
When: Friday 12 October at 10.45am (Plaque unveiling at 11am)
Where: Queenswood Education Centre, Foxcroft Close, LS6 3NT
What: Members of the media are invited to attend the opening ceremony. Staff and learners from Vine will be present, alongside Cllr Judith Blake and Leeds Rhinos guests.

There will be a number of local organisations at the event holding information stalls and interactive workshops. Leeds City College catering students will be providing a buffet lunch and other refreshments.

Vine has been running for almost 35 years, originating in Meanwood Park Hospital, after a number of moves to less than suitable accommodation, the former Beckett Park Primary School was identified as a potential new home. After much work to remodel and refurbish the building, the new accommodation for Vine now includes three personal care suites, an accessible teaching kitchen, two sensory rooms, a sports hall, and six well equipped classrooms, there is plenty of outdoor space too, including a football pitch.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“Vine provides a valuable service for some of Leeds most vulnerable young people, so it is fantastic that they have been able to move to this great new home.

“It is so important that young people with such complex needs are able to have access such great facilities and a modern, well equipped learning environment.

“We are very pleased to be joining forces with Leeds City College to enable this fantastic service to continue for years to come, and with their support, the young people will be able to achieve beyond their expectations.”

As well as moving into a new home the service is also celebrating having a secure funding future after Leeds City College came on board as partners. Vine learners also benefit from the partnership by being enrolled as Leeds City College learners and all the additional support services this provides them with.

Anne-Marie Spry, Vice Principal Adult, Community and HE at Leeds City College said:
“The College is delighted that we have been able to work with Leeds City Council and Vine over the last couple of years to secure funding and support for this very vulnerable group.

“The wonderful facilities provided by Leeds City Council at Queenswood, the sustainable funding achieved and the multi-agency partnership give us a real opportunity to provide a high quality learning with support programme for young people with complex needs in the area.

“The young people and staff are working with the college to gain qualifications, with some very exciting projects underway thanks to the creativity and enthusiasm of the experienced staff team. We look forward to continuing to work together so the provision can go from strength to strength.”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Council chiefs to debate Leeds hosting Tour de France Grand Départ

The possibility of Leeds hosting the start of the world’s greatest cycle race the Tour de France will be debated by senior councillors next week.

Formal approval for Leeds to be the host city for the Grand Départ of the legendary race is expected to be given by Leeds City Council’s executive board at the meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 17 October.

The Leeds element forms part of the regional bid being led by Welcome to Yorkshire in partnership with local authorities and regional bodies to bring the largest annual sporting event in the world to the county. The bidding process against other major European cities is ongoing, and Leeds confirming its intention to be the host city for the start is a key element of the bid which has so far received more than 150,000 pledges of support in an online campaign (www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid).

Aside from the traditional final stage and finish of the race on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, being chosen as the venue of the Grand Départ is a hugely prestigious honour and is the most publicised of all other locations in every Tour de France.

Aside from holding the start of the race, the host venue is the focal point of attention for the race in the days leading up to the Grand Départ with the competing teams being presented to the public, while there are also cycle shows, displays, market stalls, competitions and a range of cultural events in celebration of the Tour’s arrival.

When the race began in London before heading for a stage through Kent in 2007, the event generated an estimated £88million of economic benefit to the two areas, attracted over three million spectators and publicity valued at £35m with more than 20,000 pieces of media coverage being produced by the world’s media covering the race.

Cycling is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK, with interest in the sport and the Tour de France at an all-time high following the historic first-ever victory by a British rider with Bradley Wiggins’ stunning win this year, supported by fellow countryman Chris Froome finishing second and sprint star Mark Cavendish winning three stages including the prestigious final stage in Paris.

The amazing success of Team GB and Paralympics GB in the Olympic Velodrome and on the roads at London 2012 has also hugely boosted the sport’s profile, with medal-winners Lizzie Armitstead from Otley (silver) and Rawdon resident David Stone MBE (gold and bronze) being local role models for the sport and supporters of the bid to bring the Tour to Leeds and Yorkshire.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“For Leeds to be able to host the start of the Tour de France would be incredible in terms of the global profile the city would receive from being a focal point for the world’s largest annual sporting event.

“The benefits would be enormous, not only in profile, tourism and financial terms, but in terms of a legacy of inspiring in particular young people to lead healthy lifestyles.

“We have all seen the amazing impact the success of Bradley Wiggins and the Olympics and Paralympics cycling stars has had in inspiring people of all ages to get out on bikes.

“By bringing the best riders in the world and the biggest cycle race in the world to Leeds and Yorkshire it would raise that inspiration factor up another notch through one of the greatest and most valuable events in the history of the city.”

For support the Yorkshire bid to host the Tour de France, visit http://www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid


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

£1bn transport improvements plan part of City Deal discussions

A new £1billion upgrade of the transport infrastructure in Leeds and the wider region will be discussed by senior councillors next week.

The creation of the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund is one of the elements of the City Deal announced last month which will see unprecedented local decision-making and spending powers passed down from central government.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will now debate what those changes will mean for the city at a meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 17 October, with the areas to be focused on being transport, infrastructure, trade and inward investment and skills and worklessness.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“The City Deal offers an incredibly significant opportunity for Leeds and our colleagues and partners across the Leeds City Region to control our own destiny much more than ever before and to make decisions to bring about major long-term improvements to transport, economic growth, job creation and opportunities for everyone to benefit from.

“Improving our transport infrastructure is at the heart of that, as it is absolutely vital to drive the local economy which will in turn provide jobs and regeneration, so it hugely important we use the City Deal to make a real difference.”

The new transport fund would aim to boost productivity and deliver jobs and training, and is projected to bring about approximately 23,000 new jobs up to 2026 with more to follow in the years after.

In Leeds, potential investments could include improved access to Leeds Bradford International Airport and the capacity of the ring road, new park and ride facilities, and an extension of the Next Generation Transport scheme – known as trolleybus.

Other improvements could also be made to the public transport network, cycling and walking facilities plus upgrades of key highway junctions and new infrastructure being put in place to aid future development in the city.

The City Deal will be delivered by the Leeds City Region Partnership, made up of 11 local authorities in Yorkshire working together and with the private sector.

Aside from the transport fund, the councillors in Leeds will also consider a new way in which to increase resources in light of new proposals for dealing with business rates.

The executive board will debate plans for Leeds to take the lead in pooling the retained business rate income of eight local authorities in the Leeds City Region from April 2013 with the proceeds being placed in a new regional investment fund.

Currently business rates are collected by local authorities, paid into a national pool and redistributed on the basis of need. Under the new scheme authorities will be able to keep a proportion of any growth in their business rates but will be subject to a complex system of top-ups and tariffs.

Due to the combination of ‘top-up’ and ‘tariff’ authorities involved it is predicted that operating as the Leeds City Region pool would result in additional income of £600,000 a year initially which could rise to up to £4m a year by 2018/19 to be used for regional investment.

In order to deliver on the aims of the City Deal, the government has required local authorities to look at the possibility of creating a new combined authority to oversee some of the new localised powers and funding which would be in place by spring 2014.

The executive board in Leeds will therefore consider the proposal to carry out a review of governance arrangements related to transport, economic development and regeneration as well as considering whether a new combined authority would be beneficial. Other local authorities in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield will be asked jointly to conduct this review, as will the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority.

Talks will also be held with the wider Leeds City Region areas with the findings being assessed early in the new year and if approved, further consultation would be carried out and a business case put together to be considered by the government by July 2013.

Councillor Wakefield added:

“The City Deal will have a massively beneficial impact in Leeds and will affect every element of the city. Now the deal has been signed it is up to us all to work together to deliver it and this is the start of that process.”

Notes to editors:

The Leeds City Region Partnership
The Leeds City Region (LCR) Partnership brings together a group of 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council) with businesses and partners to support economic growth and a better quality of life for our communities.

The Leeds City Region Deal
On September 18 2012, the government and Leeds City Region signed a City Deal which provides a transfer of powers and funding from national to local government. It gives local government greater control over spending and decision-making to make decisions in line with key priorities for growth in the city region.
The areas focused on in this first city deal are skills, transport, investment funds, trade and inward investment as well as new robust governance arrangements to help with the efficient delivery of objectives.
For further information please download the Leeds City Region Deal Brief online at www.leedscityregion.gov.uk


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

Councillors to discuss retaining Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre

Senior councillors in Leeds will next week discuss a proposal to keep Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre under council management.

The centre off Ninelands Lane had been the subject of a proposed community asset transfer to the Schools Partnership Trust, but at the meeting of the council’s executive board at Civic Hall on Wednesday 17 October the council will consider formally ending these discussions in order to explore a different operating model.

The possible transfer was proposed as part of the 2011/12 budget, following a review of council sports facilities which showed the centre in Garforth to be operating at a net loss of £227,000 per year. Since then the centre has changed its opening hours from 103 a week to 58.5, and together with other savings made it is now successfully operating at a near-breakeven point financially.

The new proposal will recommend maintaining the current opening hours, but will also encourage further dialogue with the Schools Partnership Trust and any other interested parties who may wish to use the centre beyond the existing hours.

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

“We are pleased to be able to say that as a result of the changes made and hard work and patience of those involved Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre is in a significantly stronger position now than it was when this process began.

“We are now in a position where we are able to reassess the operating model of the facility and look into entering a partnership with the Schools Partnership Trust and any other interested parties in order to expand the operations of the centre to ensure it can continue to develop in the years to come.”


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

Extreme home makeover: Green Deal edition

Hundreds of people in Leeds will be some of the first in the UK to benefit from an energy efficient home makeover in a new demonstrator scheme.

The green renovations will be made possible if senior councillors approve plans to turn a £1.28million fund from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) into grants and interest free loans.

Members of the executive board will hear about the proposals to upgrade just over 300 properties when they meet next Wednesday (17 October).

The grants and loans will be targeted at properties with solid walls so insulation can either be attached to the outside of people’s homes or to walls on the inside. The loans will also be available for non-standard cavity walls which the council could not insulate through the Wrap Up Leeds project. These methods of insulation for ‘hard to treat’ homes are more expensive and can remain out of reach for those people that need it.

Help will be available for 304 hard to treat homes, particularly those in areas where the council knows people stand to benefit the most from using less energy and cutting their fuel bills.

And loan repayments will be used to set up a fund to help even more people to stay warm at home in the future.

It’s hoped that by making homes warmer and cheaper to run, people will no longer be in fuel poverty and their quality of life and health will improve. This has the knock on benefit of reducing pressure on healthcare and social services. The demonstrator project will also significantly reduce carbon emissions from the homes benefiting from upgrades, helping the council and city meet tough climate change targets.

The process of giving out grants and loans and organising the energy efficient overhauls will test how the Green Deal works before it is available to everyone nationally.

The Green Deal is a new way for residents to pay for energy efficiency improvements; loans will pay for insulation, boiler upgrades, new windows and renewable technology. Loan repayments will be covered by the money saved by using less energy.

The pilot project will give the council a head start and help shape how the national scheme will work locally while making older and non-traditionally built homes cosier and fuel bills more affordable.

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

“This isn’t just about finance or process or testing a new scheme. This is a real opportunity for us to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“When you can’t afford to heat your solid walled home, you can ill afford the expensive type of improvements that will help bring down your bills. It’s a vicious circle that we aim to break with this early test of the Green Deal.

“By using our expertise with Wrap Up Leeds and with this pilot behind us, we’ll be in a much better position to help significantly more Leeds residents when the Green Deal launches.

“While the financial packages on offer will pave the way for the national scheme, it also serves as an example of how we can be a truly clean, green, sustainable city; lifting people out of fuel poverty, improving people’s health, helping people reduce carbon emissions from their home and supporting jobs.”

As well as the grants and loans on offer, the council will use around £30,000 to bring two empty homes back into use. These homes will come from the ‘hard to treat’ category and will be fully kitted out with the latest energy efficient insulation to act as show homes.

Properties and communities that are due to benefit if the plans are approved are:

  • Grants for a mixture of 40 owned and rented homes in Cross Green will be provided with external insulation.
  • Grants for external insulation for 50 non-traditional build ALMO properties.
  • Grants for repairs for 40 Leeds Federated Housing Association homes in Beeston.
  • Zero per cent interest loans for external insulation for 100 privately owned solid walled properties across Leeds.
  • Zero per cent interest loans for external insulation for 50 homes bought under ‘right to buy’ in Swarcliffe.
  • Zero per cent interest loans for 20 properties across Leeds that have narrow cavity wall and can’t benefit from standard, less expensive cavity wall insulation.

It is anticipated that all works paid for by grants will be completed by the end of March 2013, loans agreements will also need to be in place by then with works funded by loans to be completed by October 2013.

Notes to editors
  • The funding from DECC is part of the low carbon element of the City Deal.
  • An overall £2.59million was made available to the Leeds City Region.
  • Leeds City Council anticipates handing out 170 loans totalling a value of £624,000.

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


Leeds is setting the standard for neighbourhood planning

An event hosted by Leeds City Council about neighbourhood planning has attracted a wide range of people from communities across Leeds.

The event, which took place at Civic Hall yesterday (Monday 8 October), focussed on new rights that local communities now have to prepare development plans for their local area (neighbourhood plans) and how these plans can decide what is built and where.

Representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), community members from Kippax and Holbeck, Planning Aid and the council's city development department all outlined how Leeds is setting the standard for the rest of the country.

There are 27 communities across Leeds interested in neighbourhood planning, more than any other area in the country. So far, 10 areas have already been designated neighbourhood areas (Walton, Linton, Bardsey, Thorp Arch, Wetherby, Bramham, Boston Spa, Clifford, Shadwell and Kippax ), with a further five soon to be. The remaining 12 communities, many from urban areas, include Holbeck, Guiseley, Yeadon, Rawdon and Headingley/Hyde Park.

Representatives from Holbeck and Kippax demonstrated how they are embracing the new powers that they have, giving many tips along the way to other communties who are seeking to follow their lead.

The event included workshops focussing on a wide range of issues of interest to communities in Leeds – how can we make our neighbourhood a better place? How can we get involved in neighbourhood planning and where can we get support ?

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

“We passionately believe in the real benefit of local communities working together with our locality teams and Area Committees to shape neighbourhood planning locally. We hope that our extensive dialogue with key local groups will appeal to the DCLG and help set the national agenda.”


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Get to ‘The Point’ for advice and help with jobs and skills

A new centre is opening at the White Rose Shopping Centre to offer people advice on jobs and access to learning and skills training .

Leeds City Council in partnership with Leeds City College, Land Securities, Job Centre Plus and the National Careers Service are opening the learning centre, known as ‘The Point’ on Thursday 11th October.

The centre will be focused on providing opportunities and skills required in the retail , hospitality , customer care sectors with information on training and learning programmes as well as advice specific to the sector.

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

All media are invited to the official opening of The Point on Thursday 11th October at 9:15am at the White Rose Centre. Councillor Adam Ogilvie and representatives from Land Securities and Leeds City College will be available for interview. Please call the press office on 0113 247 4450 to arrange attendance.

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

The Point will offer a wide range of learning and skills opportunities including those in retail ,hospitality, customer service and security. The Point will support your development, build your confidence and help you move into employment or further training, practical help with jobsearches and information on the range of job and training opportunities will also available.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for skills said:

“The Point will provide an excellent new resource which will provide communities across the city access to intelligence on the increasing retail opportunities which have been generated as a result of the significant investment in the city. The Point will look at ways in which local people can benefit from the diverse jobs market and range of expertise available within the local area and the White Shopping Rose Centre.

“I would encourage anyone who wants to find out more about getting into the retail sector to visit The Point for useful information and advice on the next steps.”

Land Securities’ retail operations director Alison Niven, said:
“We are delighted to be partners in this important initiative, which is being launched at a time when more and more people are seeking employment.”

“Over the past 12 years the centre has worked closely with Leeds City Council, schools and colleges, to provide a range of innovative education and training facilities, designed to increase educational attainment among school children and improve employment prospects for adults. The opening of The Point is a natural progression of this work. ”

Craig Busby, head of faculty for management and professional studies at Leeds City College, said:

“The Point will offer fantastic opportunities for people to train in a wide variety of programmes, all of which will help them to develop outstanding skills in retail and customer service and provide them with the best chances succeeding in this field. Leeds City College is delighted to be embarking on this exciting venture.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk