Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Children help council make important budget decisions

Young people are being asked to put their maths skills to the test to help Leeds City Council make important decisions about how to save millions of pounds for the city.

A group of young people aged between 14 and 17 met senior leaders in the council’s children’s services department earlier this week to look at how the department can best use its budget whilst helping the council save £40 million.

The 12 youngsters were given “million pound notes” to represent the children’s services budget and they worked with the leadership team to identify how they could make savings, whilst still delivering the services needed throughout the city.

This meeting is part of the council’s wider efforts to involve residents with budget planning. A new website called “YouChoose” has been developed as part of a city wide budget consultation to help residents of all ages gain a better understanding of what the council’s budget is used for, what the council does and the challenges it faces with reduced resources. It also provides a way for residents to show the council what their priorities would be  if they were setting the council budget.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Our aim to make Leeds a Child Friendly City is all about giving children and young people a voice and making sure we listen and act on their ideas and views.

“This is an excellent way of getting young people involved in the important decisions we have to make on behalf of the people of Leeds. Asking what their priorities are for their city means we can take their opinions in to account when we set next year’s budget.”

YouChoose is an on-line simulator, provided free of charge, so the council can find out what is important to its residents and what their priorities are. This is everyone's chance to have their say on which services the council should spend more or less on, and on its savings and income plans. To take part go to: 

The aim of YouChoose is to set a budget £40m lower than the starting point whilst still delivering services for the city. This is the saving the council has to make for the financial year April 2013 to the end of March 2014.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Paint the town green

Seagulls co-founder Cat Pearson and volunteer Lee Myers mix paint with help from Cllr Mark Dobson

Leeds City Council is working with an innovative recycling enterprise to keep leftover paint from going to landfill.

Seagulls have collected a staggering 220 tonnes of paint from half-filled pots from the city’s nine household waste sorting sites throughout 2011.

And the founders of the social enterprise – Cat Pearson and Kate Moree – hope to put even more unwanted but perfectly usable paint to good use after their contract with the local authority was extended earlier this year.

Emulsion and gloss that hasn’t been used can’t be thrown away with household rubbish. It normally requires specialist disposal as some of the chemicals they contain can be harmful to the environment.

The Seagulls team have been picking up paint pots from the distinctive pink pods at the city’s recycling sites since March 2010.

Rather than disposing of the unwanted paint, the environmental reuse venture mix and resell paint to the public at low prices. The service has proved extremely popular with over 110 tonnes of leftover paint being sold from Seagulls’ base off Kirkstall Road in 2011. For every tonne of paint reused, Seagulls can prevent 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from going into Leeds’ atmosphere.

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

“Seagulls offer a unique reuse service that we are delighted to support. Unused paint has to be disposed of safely so it’s far better to reuse it – its better for the environment and helps us achieve our recycling targets.

“But its the ethos behind Seagulls that really makes it stand out. Not only are the team helping us reduce the city’s impact on the environment, they are providing a product at an affordable price while supporting jobs and encouraging volunteers.”

Cat Pearson, co-founder of Seagulls said:

“Our continuing partnership with Leeds City Council puts our social business on an even stronger footing. With a regular supply from the council’s sites, we can go on meeting the growing demand for affordable paint.”

Since the contract with Leeds City Council began, Seagulls have been able create four new jobs. They now employ 10 people and work with around 20 volunteers each year. The team are kept busy, with 4,500 customers going through their doors in 2011.

Unfortunately, some of the paint collected by Seagulls can’t be reused and needs specialist disposal. The team are currently looking for sponsors to help with disposal costs so they can plough money back into their not-for-profit operation.

Seagulls are based at Units 3 and 4, Aire Place Mills, Kirkstall Road, LS3 1JL and can be contacted on 0113 246 7510 if you are interested in buying paint or sponsoring disposal costs. They are open Monday to Friday, 10am until 4pm.

Paint is just one of the many items that can be recycled at Leeds’ nine household waste sorting sites. A full list of household waste sorting sites, their opening times and information on what can be recycled can be found at


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

Keeping people in Leeds safe and sound is a top priority

Safer Leeds has announced the top three priorities for Leeds in terms of community safety which form part of the partnerships aim to make the city a safe place to live, work and visit.

Over the last 12 months, significant progress has been made by the Safer Leeds Partnership to reduce crime, resulting in a reduction in domestic burglary numbers and improved resident satisfaction rates when tackling anti social behaviour.

The partnership will be asking the new West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to support their work when they are elected in November.

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

“The citizens of Leeds want to live in communities that are safe and free from crime, and that is not unreasonable.

“Our three priorities are; reducing crime levels and its impact across Leeds, effectively tackling and reducing anti-social behaviour in our communities and improving safeguarding and reducing vulnerability or individuals, families and communities

“We know that to achieve this, the Safer Leeds Partnership needs to work with local people and across a wide range of agencies rather than in isolation.”

“By working together, the Safer Leeds partners have successfully delivered a wide range of activity to reduce crime, and which demonstrates our commitment to the achievement of the ambition. We want this work to continue into the future, and will be looking for the support of the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner when they come in to office next month.”

Notes for Editors

The elections for the first Police and Crime Commissioner will take place on Thursday, 15 November 2012. Residents across west Yorkshire will be asked to vote on a number of candidates standing for the region.

To ensure there is a direct link for the West Yorkshire region to the new commissioner, a new Police and Crime Panel has been established. The panel consists of elected members from councils across West Yorkshire and will provide a forum for councillors to constructively challenge and support the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Leeds City Council has three councillors sitting on the panel, whose job it is to represent the interests of local residents.

The three priorities for Safer Leeds are;

• Reducing crime levels and its impact across Leeds – Continued support to maintain the city’s Burglary Reduction Programme which brings together a number of partners, such as West Yorkshire Police, the Youth Offending Service, Probation, the City Council and the Universities Knowledge project, to target prolific burglary offenders, address offending behaviour, particularly young offenders, and provide crime reduction advice to residents across the city.
Programmes of activity which aim to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders back in to society and away from crime, by tackling issues such as substance abuse and supporting them in to training and on to employment.

• Effectively tackle and reduce anti-social behaviour in our communities – Supporting the city’s three multi-agency Anti-Social Behaviour Teams (LASBT), consisting of officers from the Council, Police, the three Leeds ALMO’s and Victim Support, who operate across the city to effectively deal with all types of anti social behaviour.

• Supporting the partnerships ongoing commitment to the city’s successful PCSO network.

• Improving safeguarding and reducing vulnerability or individuals, families and communities – Work to support the delivery of the Leeds Domestic Violence Action Plan, including new work undertaken by the DASSL project (Domestic Abuse Scheme Safer Leeds), which works with the perpetrators of domestic violence to lessen the risk of harm within families and to reduce repeat victimisation.


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

Lotherton Hall’s haunted half term events

People will be in for a fright when they visit Lotherton Hall over the half term week as the estate has been taken over by scarecrows.

Staff from the estate have crafted a series of scary scarecrows which will be displayed around the house and grounds as part of a Halloween trail.

The trail will take place from Saturday 27 October to Sunday 4 November, with ‘Haunted Halloween’ ghost stories and children’s craft workshops taking place in the main house on Wednesday 31 October.

A talk to accompany the popular Victorian Look Book Exhibition will take place from 2pm to 4pm on Thursday 1 November and Friday 2 November , and there will be the chance to make your own make believe creature in the Fantasy Fairies workshop.

Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council executive member for the environment said:

“Lotherton is a fantastic place to head to with the children this half term. It is always good value for the family, and this new trail adds some scary but fun activities for the holiday.”

All of these activities are covered in the normal admission charge or free to season ticket holders.

For more information visit or call 0113 2813259.

Notes to editors

Lotherton Hall is an Edwardian country house set within 54 hectares of grounds.

Lotherton Hall also boasts a Bird Garden, Deer Park, formal gardens, orchard, numerous walks and an onsite café with renowned homemade cakes opens from 9am to 5pm.

New for 2012: the Drawing room has undergone an extensive restoration allowing visitors to experience the original rich decorative scheme. Working with Aiming High for Children the Bird Garden has a range of new interactive displays that combine fun and learning. Out in the park play equipment has been installed create a fantastic new woodland play area.

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