Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Christmas cracker as bigger Christkindelmarkt heads for Leeds

Caption: The German Christmas market will be bigger than ever in Leeds this year

The popular German Christmas market returns to Leeds next week in style with a bigger than ever festive offering.

Now in its 11th year, the Christkindelmarkt opens on Millennium Square on Friday 9 November with a scenic winter village made up of more than 40 traditional wooden chalet stalls from Germany offering Christmas gifts, food and entertainment.

Organised by Leeds City Council in partnership with Frankfurt City Council and supported by media partners Real Radio and the Yorkshire Evening Post , over 250,000 visitors are expected to enjoy the festive atmosphere and sample a large variety of traditional German delicacies such as gluhwein, bratwurst sausages, schnitzels, soups and goulash, stollen, gingerbread, roasted nuts and candied fruits.

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All media are invited to attend the official opening of this year's Christkindelmarkt on Millennium Square at 3pm on Friday 9 November led by Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Ann Castle.
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Open daily until Sunday 16 December, the Christkindelmarkt also offers a unique festive shopping experience with something for everyone including handcrafted seasonal gift ideas, toys, jewellery, Christmas cards and unique festive decorations plus the traditional carousel ride.

The market has been expanded for 2012, with new stalls including the Alp Chalet, a Bavarian mountain-themed eatery which offers a specialist food menu as well as a new outdoor bandstand which will showcase themed entertainment and a series of craft and skills workshops.

Another new stall run by Leeds City Council's parks and countryside service will offer visitors the opportunity to buy winter plants, bird food and planters as well as a range of seasonal items. Anyone keen to get a memento of their visit to the market will also be able to purchase photos from official event photographers who will be on hand.

The market will be open daily from 10.30am to 9:30pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 7:30pm on Sundays with selected licensed and food stalls open late until 10:30pm. Due to arrangements for Remembrance Sunday on 11 November, the market will not open on that day until 12 noon.

Also revamped and expanded for this year is the fairground element of the event, which will now be found in a new dedicated location on Cookridge Street running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Friday 23 November.

Open from 11am to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 11am to 6pm on Sundays, the fairground and will feature the popular dodgems, flying chairs, children's funhouse, convoy and cups and saucers rides together with a traditional candy floss and refreshment stall and outdoor cafe seating area provided by the adjacent Radisson Hotel.

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

“The Christkindelmarkt is a fantastic event and attraction for Leeds which is enjoyed by thousands of people from the city and far beyond.

“It has a really magical festive atmosphere and this year with the new stalls and fairground rides it offers even more of a treat for people of all ages to get the Christmas spirit flowing in style.”

For more information, call Leeds City Council’s Events team on 0113 395 0891 or visit For further information of what is on and an essential guide on where to travel, shop, play and stay in Leeds during the festive season, visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Curtain up as Leeds International Film Festival gets ready for action

Caption: 'No' starring Gael Garcia Bernal (top image) and 'Heretic' (above) will be two of the highlights of this year's Leeds International Film Festival

This year's Leeds International Film Festival starts in style this week as the opening gala screening ‘Argo’ has proved so successful a second showing has now been arranged.

Ben Affleck’s new comic thriller which has been mentioned as a likely Oscar contender opens the festival at Leeds Town Hall on Thursday night (November 1.)

The screening is already sold out, so festival organiser Leeds City Council has now added a second showing on Saturday 3rd November at 8:30pm.

Tickets are going fast for all elements of the festival which is now in its 26th year and runs until Sunday 18 November featuring more than 150 feature films, over 130 short films and nearly 250 screening events.

One of the standout elements of this year’s festival is Fanomenon Yorkshire, which will showcase three new horror films made in the county. The first is a world premiere of ‘Heretic’ on Monday 5 November at Hyde Park Picture House, which was shot entirely in Leeds and tells the story of a troubled Catholic priest who finds his faith crushed when a young girl he promises to protect commits suicide.

This is followed on Wednesday 7 November at Hyde Park Picture House by ‘Before Dawn’, an independent zombie film directed by and starring Dominic Brunt, better known as Paddy Kirk in Emmerdale.

The final film of the three is ‘When the Lights Went Out’, being shown at Vue in The Light on Friday 9 November. Set in Yorkshire in 1974 and based on a true story, the film has impressed critics for its attention to period detail and offers arguably the scariest ghost story of the year.

At each of the three screenings members of the cast and crew will be special guests in attendance, forming part of a list of special appearances to be made at the biggest annual film festival in England to be held outside London.

Actor Steve Oram will be guest of honour at a screening of black comedy ‘Sightseers’ at Hyde Park Picture House on Friday 2 November, while Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky will attend be at the same venue on Saturday 17 November for a retrospective of his early works.

A further addition to the festival programme has also been revealed with acclaimed Chilean political thriller ‘No’ starring Gael Garcia Bernal being shown on Tuesday 6 November at Leeds Town Hall.

Among the other highlights of this year’s festival will be new digital print screenings of Stanley Kubrick’s classics ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Barry Lyndon’ and the legendary chiller ‘The Shining’ all in the Victoria Hall.

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

“The programme for this year’s Leeds International Film Festival has proved hugely popular with a fantastic response from film fans keen to attend. Showcasing not only the best of world cinema, work produced right here in Leeds and Yorkshire is one of the strong elements this year, so we look forward to welcoming visitors to what is a wonderful festival.”

Director of Leeds International Film Festival Chris Fell said:

“Leeds is at the heart of the biggest region for filmmaking in the north and I am delighted this year that we have a record number of films made in Yorkshire showing at the 26th Film Leeds International Film Festival. From screening short films made by new local talent in our competitions to premiering thrilling feature films produced entirely in the region in Fanomenon, the film festival celebrates the best of Yorkshire filmmaking alongside the greatest talent from across the world.”

Tickets and film festival passes can be purchased in person at City Centre Box Office (The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD), over the telephone (0113 224 3801) and online (

Presented by Leeds City Council, Leeds International Film Festival is supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and the National Lottery through the British Film Institute and Creative England.

For more information about this year’s Leeds International Film Festival, visit the website at


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel: 0113 247 5472

Council calls for clarification over asylum seeker housing

Leeds City Council has expressed its concern over an ongoing delay by a government contractor in providing accommodation for asylum seekers in the city.

The council has delivered accommodation and support to asylum seekers as part of a group of local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber region through a contract with the UK Border Agency since the 1990s .

In March this year, UKBA awarded a new contract was to G4S to cover the Yorkshire and Humber and North East regions following a retendering process. The current contract with the local authority consortium is due to expire on 12 November 2012.

The government originally set a transition period to allow up until the 28 September 2012 to move all the people accommodated by Leeds City Council to housing options secured by G4S. This date has now had to be extended to 12 November 2012, as the company have been unable to achieve their target, and families still have not secured new accommodation.

As of 30 October, 166 people are still being accommodated by Leeds City Council, even though the contract with the local authority will end on 12th November 2012.

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

“I am shocked that vulnerable people can be treated in this way. It is simply not fair to leave so much uncertainty with these families, and I would like urgent clarification from the government and G4S as to when the issue will be resolved.

“All the families we currently support were given information by the government earlier this year that said they would be transferred by now to accommodation provided by G4S , but the timescale keeps slipping, and no firm answers are being given.

“Our key consideration remains the welfare of the asylum seekers and we have concerns about the impact which may result from failure to achieve this handover in the agreed time frame.”

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

Leeds voting packs for Police Commissioner in the post

A major operation is under way in Leeds to deliver what is expected to be the country’s biggest number of postal voting forms for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

No less than 93,500 postal ballot packs for the elections taking place across England and Wales on November 15 will begin to land on doormats in the city from the end of this week.

They will enable people in Leeds who are registered for a postal ballot to cast their vote for the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire.  They will be entitled to select both a first and second choice of candidate.

The ballot paper, expected to start arriving on Friday November 2, will list all the candidates standing in the area and the voting process must be followed carefully.
Susanna Benton, Leeds City Council’s electoral services manager, explained:

“Next to the list of candidates there will be two columns.  You will be asked to vote for your first choice candidate by marking a cross in the first choice column, and for your second choice candidate by marking a cross in the second choice column.  As long as you mark one cross in the first choice column, your vote can be counted.”

The Leeds vote will count towards the overall West Yorkshire result, as the Police Commissioner will represent the entire county.  The count will take place in Huddersfield, presided over by Police Area Returning Officer Joanne Roney.

Leeds traditionally has one of the largest postal votes in the UK for elections.  Completed postal votes must reach the Local Returning Officer by 10pm on Thursday 15 November.  They can also be handed in at any polling station in the Leeds City Council area.  If you have not received your postal vote by Friday 9 November, you can apply for a replacement by contacting 0113 222 4411.

For more information on the PCC elections visit or for information on the candidates visit
Journalists who require further information about the overall organising of the PCC elections should contact:Wakefield Council Communications team
Telephone 01924 305295

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335