Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Leeds schoolgirl gives MPs food for thought

A former pupil of Harehills Primary school will be guest of honour at the Houses of Parliament after a healthy school meals logo that she designed was selected by an important Parliamentary committee.

Christina Xaviour was a pupil at Harehills Primary school when she designed the logo for the All Party Parliamentary Group on school meals to promote their work in Parliament.

Now, Christina has been invited to the Houses of Parliament to meet the group which includes MPs and experts in school meals from all around the country. Christina and five other Leeds pupils will talk to the group about the School Food Ambassadors programme which is unique to Leeds, and will be given a tour of the Houses of Parliament.

As a celebration of Christina's success, Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, who also chairs the Leeds Children's Trust Board, will be presenting her with a framed copy of her logo at a celebration event at the school next week.

Media opportunity:
When: Friday 16 November at 11.30am
Where: Harehills Primary school, Darfield Road, LS8 5DQ
Members of the media are invited to attend the celebration event where Christina will be presented with a trophy from Cllr Judith Blake and George Mudie MP. The media will also be able to find out more about, and sample some of the new international menu which is available at Harehills Primary School.

Harehills Primary is one of a number of schools in Leeds which has completely transformed its school food service through the School Food Ambassador programme. This is a student- led scheme which was developed in Leeds, gives children and young people a say in their school meals and helps encourage healthy eating amongst their peers. This programme means students are involved in monitoring their own school meals so they can make sure standards are being met.

Head teacher Margaret Broughton is particularly pleased at the success of her former pupil, she said:
“This is absolutely marvellous. One of the main reasons that we have been able to transform our school food service at Harehills is because of the enthusiasm and hard work of pupils at the school. Along with catering professionals and teaching staff, the changes which we have brought about would not have been possible if pupils had not played such a significant role. Everyone at the school is really proud of what we have done and particularly pleased that Christina has received this accolade".

Cllr Blake will be accompanied at the celebration event by George Mudie MP. They will also be able to speak to pupils and staff at the school about the new meals arrangements which have been brought into the school and sample some of the new food available.

Cllr Blake executive board member responsible for children’s services said,
“What a wonderful achievement. I’m sure Christina will have a fantastic time in London and will be very proud to see her logo design being used by such an important national committee.

“The School Food Ambassador programme has given children and young people across the city the confidence to make their voices heard and has been a huge success. The role of this programme is to put student voices and enthusiasm at the heart of our efforts and to reflect our desire to be a Child Friendly City.”

For more information about the Leeds School Food Ambassador programme visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/schoolmeals

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

Roadshows help Leeds residents understand changes to benefits

People who may be affected by the Government’s changes to benefits are being invited to attend a roadshow in their local area.

Leeds City Council has already organised 12 roadshow events over the next three months, to make sure anyone with any concerns or questions can speak to an expert advisor in person and take away any information they may need.

The first roadshow is being held on 16 November at Armley One Stop Centre followed by one on 19 November at the Great George Street One Stop Centre in the city centre, both are between 9am to 3pm.

From April next year the Government is bringing in a number of changes which will affect the amount of benefit people get. The changes include:
Housing benefit – under occupancy
Nationally the amount of Housing Benefit paid to working age tenants who live in council or housing association properties will be reduced, where they have more bedrooms than the family needs under the regulations.
Benefit Cap
There will be a national cap on the amount of benefits a single person or family can receive. The cap is limited to £500 per family, and £350 for a single person.
Council Tax Benefit
National funding for local council tax benefit schemes is being reduced, this could see working age customers receiving less support.

There will also be additional changes from October 2013:
Universal Credit
Nationally there will be the introduction of the single monthly payment of benefits, this will be called Universal Credit. Universal Credit will replace the following means tested benefits; Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Tax Credits.

In order to help everyone be as prepared for these as possible the council has arranged these road shows where information and advice will be available from council benefits advisors on all aspects of the government’s changes to welfare provision.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“I am deeply concerned about the impact that the full range of welfare reforms is going to have on many people across the city.

“As a responsible council and social landlord, we want to make sure all affected people are fully aware of the impact this may have on them as early as possible so that they can make informed decisions about how to cope with the changes.

“These roadshows will provide a great opportunity for anyone with any concerns or questions to speak to people who can hopefully offer a solution or reassurance.

“It is sadly inevitable that some people will need to adapt to receiving less benefits than they do now, and some may need to move to a smaller property but rest assured we have teams in place ready to offer support and advice to help minimise any confusion and disruption as far as we possibly can.”

The remaining roadshows for 2012 are:
30 November – The Reginald Centre, Chapeltown
3 December – St George’s Centre, Middleton
7 December – Aireborough One Stop Centre
10 December – The Compton Centre, One Stop Centre, Hareills
7 January – Otley One Stop Centre
11 January – Osmondthorpe One Stop Centre
14 January – Morley One Stop Centre
21 January – Pudsey One Stop Centre
28 January – Seacroft South One Stop Centre
31 January – Seacroft North One Stop Centre
All will be held between 9am to 3pm and will operate as drop-in sessions.

For further information and any updates on new road shows please visit leeds.gov.uk/benefits.

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

Timetable and wards for fortnightly bin collections confirmed

The first areas to benefit from more frequent recycling collections have been unveiled by Leeds City Council.

Around 40,000 homes will be the first to switch to the new alternate weekly bin collections.

This includes properties in Kippax and Methley, Garforth and Swillington, Morley North, Morley South and Ardsley and Robin Hood wards.

It’s anticipated that the new service – which will see green bins being emptied one week and black bins emptied the next week – will start in April 2013.

The wards have been chosen because people in these areas recycle a high percentage of their waste with less rubbish going in their black bins, destined for landfill.

Residents who have been embracing the reduce, reuse and recycle message have been asking for more regular green bin pick-ups. The council spent £9.2million in tax to dump rubbish in landfill last year and this landfill tax bill is set to go up £1.5million a year.

As well as being led by demand, the new collections are a key part of the council’s plans to up recycling rates and slash what it has to pay in these taxes.

Evidence from other councils who operate alternate weekly collections shows that the amount of rubbish collected in black bins decreases and the amount of recycling collected increases, helping them save money and cutting carbon emissions.

In Rothwell, people who already have their bins emptied on the alternate weekly collection system and weekly food waste collections, recycle significantly more – 53% compared to the city-wide average of 28%.

Residents who will be taking part in the first phase of the city-wide roll out can expect to receive detailed information in the new year. Details can’t be confirmed yet as the council is still waiting to find out if a bid for DCLG funding to provide weekly food waste collections to 254,000 homes across Leeds has been successful.

To accommodate the improved service, collection days may change across the city, not just in the affected wards. Residents will be advised of any changes well in advance.

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

“It’s a massive logistical task to make sure the right resources are in place to meet the demand for more frequent recycling collections. Our plans to get this up and running are progressing well.

“The changes represent a massive step up in convenience for people who want to be able to recycle more at home. The current system doesn’t meet our residents needs and we’re confident that an efficient, reliable, fortnightly service will go some way to helping us hit our recycling targets of 55% by 2016.

“We appreciate that the new system will take a little time to get used to, so we’re committed to keeping residents up to date about what is happening and when.”

Residents on affected routes will receive a letter early in the new year, followed by a householder information pack.

If you have any feedback about waste services in Leeds or would like to report any concerns about bins please call 0113 222 4406.

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


First act announcement for Leeds Arena welcomed

The first official announcement of an act to play at Leeds Arena has been revealed as JLS, who will be performing on 20 December 2013.

The band will not be the first to perform, since an opening programme is being put together for September 2013, but is is the first official confirmation of an artist to appear at the new venue currently being constructed on Clay Pit Lane in Leeds.

Leeds City Council’s Leader Councillor Keith Wakefield welcomed the announcement and said:

“It’s excellent news that such a popular act have chosen to include our world-standard Leeds Arena as part of their tour. Plans are well under way to put together a packed programme for our opening fortnight in September and it’s marvellous that we can look forward to performances from quality acts such as JLS already in the arena’s schedules in the months after that.”

Tickets will go on sale from 10am this Friday November 16 by calling the Leeds Arena booking line on 0844 248 1585 (from 10am-7pm Friday), visiting www.eventim.co.uk/leeds-arena or you can buy your tickets in person at the Leeds Arena pop-up box office, located in Leeds Town Hall, from 10am Friday.  Further details about the event itself can be found at www.gigsandtours.com

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