Thursday, 7 February 2013

Statement regarding planning approval for incinerator

Today, the council’s city plans panel approved the planning application, subject to legal agreements and conditions, for Veolia E. S. Ltd to construct an incinerator. Waste from homes across the city will be recycled at the site to stop it going to landfill with the remainder being incinerated.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“This decision has been years in the making and the level of scrutiny provided by panel members demonstrates just how important the incinerator is to the city.

“I’ve said frequently that we can’t afford to continue to bury waste in the ground on financial or environmental grounds.

“Alongside other improvements to our waste services, this is a significant milestone in enabling us to recycle as much as we can.

“With the final discussions set to get underway, we’re confident the end result will be a facility that will allow us to realise our ambitions for a cleaner, greener Leeds.”

Notes to editors:

  • Members have given their seal of approval for the facility to be granted planning permission subject to legal agreements and conditions being successfully agreed.
  • The Chief Planning Officer will oversee these discussions.
  • If these discussions are concluded to the satisfaction of the Chief Planning Officer, planning permission will then be issued.
  • If, after a three month period, the legal agreements and conditions have not been signed off, it will be up to the Chief Officer to make a determination.

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

Proposals to realign day services for older people in Leeds

Council chiefs will be asked to give the green light to a consultation about the future of four day centres for older people in the city at their executive board meeting next week.

The centres have been reviewed as part of ongoing work looking at what services are currently provided for older people, and how these can be realigned to ensure that the needs and demands of future generations can be met most effectively.

Against the backdrop of reducing government funding, the council is faced with the challenge of how to improve choice and standards, achieve better outcomes and meet the increasing aspirations of older people in Leeds. This will require a shift away from outdated facilities with limited popularity, towards more modern facilities and the better use of personal budgets and integrated services.

Despite the increase in the proportion of older people living in the city, a review of council day services has identified that average attendance across all 14 day centres is just 42%. This downward trend can be attributed to an increase in the number of alternative services based in local communities, organised and run by local people, which offer a range of practical and social support to help older people live independently.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for adult social care in Leeds said:
“We understand that older people can feel very anxious about change, and I would like to assure everyone affected by these proposals that their views and wishes will be taken into consideration during the consultation, if approved.

“Our strong commitment to facilitating better lives for the growing number of older people that live in Leeds is at the heart of these proposals. The review has shown that, with less than half of the places in council-run day centres now being taken up, we have a real opportunity to re-evaluate our services and look closely at what else is available across the city.

"A great example of an alternative to a traditional day centre is Holt Park Active, which opens later this year. This fantastic venue will offer activities for people of all ages and abilities at the heart of the local community, and help people to access healthy lifestyles.”

The council is seeking approval to start a detailed consultation with the service users of four of its day centres for older people in March. Dedicated members of adult social care staff will meet with each service user and their family/carers to talk through the options available and assess their ongoing care needs and wishes.

The proposals are to close the day centres at Burley Willows, Naburn Court and Queenswood Drive, and transfer customers to new or existing services in the local community. It is also proposed to develop the role of the Doreen Hamilton building so that it can play a wider role in the life of the local community, and help people who currently use the older people’s day centre to find alternative daytime support within the local area.

Councillor Yeadon added:
“The council continues to deal with a challenging financial situation and with an increasing number of older people with high care needs to take care of we simply cannot continue to do things exactly the same way that they have always been done.

“We need to continue to develop our close work with the NHS, and the independent and voluntary sectors to ensure that a wide range of cost effective activities are available to support older people to live the lives that they want to in Leeds.”

Ends
Notes to editors

Currently there are 116,600 people over the age of 65 living in Leeds, representing 14.6% of the overall population of the city. This figure will increase to 129,800 by 2020 (15.3% of population) and by 2030 to 153,800 (16.9% of population).

A growing number of older people are now choosing to live in their own homes for longer, meaning that better choice and control over their local services is increasingly important.

All adults with social care needs are entitled to self-directed support provided through a personal budget. Self-directed support works in a creative and positive way to support older people with their daily tasks and social activities, so they can enjoy the same freedom, choice and control as the rest of society. This could be to attend a course, carry out daily chores to increase independence, attend a fitness class, or go to a football match or the cinema. Leeds has made significant progress in extending the use of personal budgets. Currently around 61% of Leeds citizens receiving a community care service or carer specific service receive their support in the form of a personal budget.

The development of Holt Park Active in the west of the city will provide a wide range of inclusive activities and facilities for people to be active, socialise and learn new skills as an alternative to a traditional day centre. Holt Park Active is the result of a successful bid made by the council for £28.894m of government private finance initiative credits (PFI) from the Department of Health.

Neighbourhood network schemes are community based, locally managed organisations that enable older people to live independently, and provide services that help to reduce social isolation, provide opportunities for volunteering, offer advice and information, and promote health and wellbeing to their customers. The council continue to provide funding and support to 40 neighbourhood network schemes in Leeds to help them expand their work to support a wider range of older people, including those with more complex needs.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Proposals for older people’s housing and residential care in Leeds

Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve plans to shape the future of older people’s extra care housing and residential care in the city at their meeting next week.

If approved, the proposals will deliver a holistic, co-ordinated approach to increase and improve specialist accommodation for the city’s increasing number of older people.

The first of two reports, Older People’s Housing and Care, highlights the necessity for new housing to meet the needs of older residents in the city, and particularly those over the age of 75. It also acknowledges the challenge that the council faces in being able to modernise and improve housing for older people in the context of the growing population and reductions in public sector funding.

Older people want to remain living independently for as long as possible, and the council is proposing closer partnership working with developers and service providers to ensure that all the housing needs of older residents across the whole city are met. The council’s approach will combine its own investment in new affordable housing and the use of surplus land to encourage developers to invest in building specialist housing for older people in areas of the city where there are currently gaps in provision or where future gaps can be predicted now.

The second report, Better Lives for People of Leeds – Residential Care for Older People, focuses on the local authority residential care homes where no recommendations were made as part of the first phase of the review in 2011. The council has carried out a significant amount of work to identify demand, capacity, quality and cost across the whole housing and care sector. This showed that demand for long term residential care is decreasing, but highlighted an increase in demand for intermediate and specialist nursing care. It also identified the need to expand the quality and choice of extra care housing in the city.

The report recommends that a formal consultation with residents and their families/carers at the affected local authority homes should start in March. The proposals to be consulted on are:
• The potential closure of Amberton Court, Burley Willows, Fairview, Manorfield House, Musgrave Court, and Primrose Hill due to the high cost of maintaining these older buildings and the availability of alternative residential care in the surrounding areas;
• The potential transfer of Home Lea House to another community-based organisation; and,
• The potential to develop Suffolk Court as a specialist intermediate care unit in partnership with the NHS.

Dedicated members of adult social care staff will meet with each resident and their family/carers to talk through the proposed options for the home that they live in and assess their ongoing care needs and wishes.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks and all the information gathered will be pulled together to form recommendations, which will be presented to executive board later in the year for a final decision.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member responsible for adult social care said:
“We realise that older people and their families will feel anxious about this proposed consultation about the future of their care homes, and I would like to assure them that we are very sympathetic to their feelings and that everyone’s views will be listened to – and heard.

“Leeds City Council is committed to modernising and improving services for older people to ensure that we are able to meet the needs of our ageing population now and in the future.

“With reducing resources and more older people to take care of, we simply cannot continue to do things exactly the same way that they have always been done.

“These proposals are the next step in our work to transform housing, care and support services for older people, and will give them access to a wider range of high quality options in the future.

Ends

Notes to editors
In September 2011, executive board approved recommendations from phase one of the review of the council’s 19 residential care homes. Three homes were closed, three will close when alternative provision has been built in the area, three were retained as specialist dementia units, Harry Booth House is being developed in partnership with Leeds Community Healthcare Trust as the city’s first intermediate care unit (opening April 2013) and Richmond House is being developed as a specialist respite centre.

Ninety six people from the three closed homes and Harry Booth House have been successfully moved into new accommodation, generally independent sector residential homes.

The three closed homes will be demolished in order to reduce costs associated with ongoing maintenance and security. This will also make the vacant sites more attractive to potential developers.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Council leader reveals “painful decisions in order to protect services” as £54.9m budget savings announced

The Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield today revealed “protecting essential services by making painful decisions we could no longer avoid” was the key theme of a budget to save a further £54.9million for next year.

Details of the council’s annual budget for 2013/14 were unveiled today, with significant further reductions in resources outlined to add to the £145m achieved in Leeds over the last two years since the government’s public spending review began. Councillor Wakefield expressed his “frustration and disappointment” that Leeds has been given the worst government settlement of all the core cities except one. He added: “This will inevitably see some services changing and others being stopped altogether but we remain committed to protecting services for our most vulnerable residents.”

The budget, to be discussed at the council’s executive board meeting on Friday 15 February before being ratified at the full council meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 27 February, is underpinned by the following elements:

- Working to protect and improve how frontline services can be offered in local areas
- Delivery of new homes in Leeds and improved accommodation for older people
- Working to improve services for vulnerable groups such as children and older people
- Maximising benefits of City Deal devolved powers and funding from government to the Leeds City Region, especially in offering apprenticeships and job opportunities for young people and promoting growth in Leeds
- Continued efficiencies and service improvements through collaborative working across council departments, with other local authorities and third sector through ‘civic enterprise’
- Raising additional income from reviewing charging policies and finding innovative new to raise to generate funds to protect jobs and services
- Providing support and advice to those affected by government welfare reforms

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“Again this year the statistics show that Leeds has been hit harder than all the other core cities except one in terms of funding from the government. As a result in order to do all we can to protect essential services we have had to look at making decisions which previously we would have considered unthinkable.

“A lot of people have maybe become indifferent to the negative messages coming from all corners of the economy, but unfortunately this year with changes to welfare benefits and the continuing budget reductions the reality of the situation is going to start hitting home and people are going to be faced with some big decisions about their lifestyles and spending.

“We are doing all we can to keep the impact of these changes to a minimum, but at the same time we also have a firm commitment to growth, embracing new ideas and working together to deliver a strong future for Leeds.”

Among the changes proposed in the 2013/14 budget are:

- Increasing council house rents, garage rents and service charges by 5.9 per cent
- Children’s nursery fees to be increased by £2 per day, although service still significantly cheaper than private providers
- Above-inflation rise in council fees and charges to raise additional £1.4m
- Sport charges to increase by approximately 4 per cent
- School clothing allowances to end to save £600,000
- Bereavement charges to increase by 7.5 per cent to reduce council subsidy of the service, although hardship grants will be available
- Review of car parking fees for evenings and Sundays
- Review of charging for residents car parking permits
- The review of adult social care services which are currently free
- New or increased charges for council events
- End to some elements of free home to school/college travel from September 2013 to save £2.8m
- Seasonal closure of heritage facilities

Councillor Wakefield added:

“This has been by far the hardest budget to set in my time on the council and we want to be up front with people about the scale of the challenge we are facing and what these changes will mean.

“Making decisions which we know will be unpopular over price increases and budget cuts is not something any of us wanted to make, but the position is now so difficult we have had no choice but to look at areas we had previously avoided.”

To support those affected by national changes to council tax and welfare benefits which begin on April 1 the council is providing extra funding for advice and support.

The council has also confirmed exemptions from any changes to council tax benefits will continue for pensioners, lone parents of children under five, carers, households which receive the Severe or Enhanced Disability Premium and war widows.

Alternative week black and green bin collections will be rolled out across the city in the coming year, helping to reduce landfill costs by £400,000 and improve recycling rates, while the Rothwell Food Waste Collection Service is to be extended to 3,000 additional homes.

The council is also looking to make a further £4.5m savings in 2013/14 by reducing staffing levels by 334 full-time equivalents (not including schools staff), as part of the drive to reduce staff numbers by 2,500 from April 2010 to March 2015. This will be carried out through the continuation of the council’s voluntary retirement and severance scheme.

With a strong focus on supporting essential services and those for vulnerable people in particular the young and elderly, the budget also includes the following commitments:

- An extra £2.9m for adult social care, focusing on encouraging independent living, early interventions and more personalised services for customers
- An additional £3m to be invested in services for those with learning disabilities
- An extra £3.1m to be invested in children’s services for those with special education needs, temporary social workers and fostering/adoption
- Savings of £6m identified in children’s services due to success of prevention and early intervention measures meaning less children being placed in external care
- Additional £2.5m in family support measures
- Procurement savings of £4.7m
- £3m New Homes Bonus on offer from the government if 2,000 new properties are built or brought back into use
- Housing maintenance budget increased by 3 per cent
- Additional £558,000 for grounds maintenance to provide enhanced service for grass cutting, shrub and rose bed maintenance, weeding and litter control
- £1.7m funding from Arts Council England for Leeds museums and galleries over next three years
- £500,000 towards possible redevelopment of Kirkgate Market
- Additional £250,000 for improving environment and cleanliness of housing estates

Councillor Wakefield added:

“While things are undoubtedly tough, we are still ambitious and are striving to become the Best City in the UK and for Leeds to be a Child Friendly City. Along with taking care of people with disabilities, we will do all we can to help the most vulnerable members of our society.

“In both children’s services and adult social care, the way services are being delivered by the council or our partners is changing, to now focus on early interventions and giving people choices and a much more personalised service. This is already making a big difference to people’s lives and we are committed to developing that further in the years to come.”

Growth is a major element of the budget, with a commitment to providing new housing as well as the benefits to be gained from the devolution of powers from government to the region announced last year.

Elements of the City Deal include:

- £400m Investment Fund and £1bn Transport Fund for Leeds City Region over the next 10 years
- Leeds to receive portion of £5m Regional Growth Fund for business grant schemes over next two years
- Portion of £4.6m from Skills Funding Agency for opportunities for young people and those looking for first chance of employment
- New Apprenticeship Training Agency with Leeds City College to provide new opportunities

In addition, up to new 15 apprenticeship places will be on offer in the council’s parks and countryside service.

This year also sees the opening of the long-awaited Leeds Arena and the Trinity Leeds shopping development, while Headingley will also host matches in the Rugby League World Cup and the city begins the build-up to hosting the prestigious Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2014.

Councillor Wakefield said:

“The City Deal offers us the chance to make a real difference to the Leeds economy and that of the wider region, helping businesses develop which will hopefully result in job creation, while the apprenticeship programmes are absolutely vital to offering young people who currently are in danger of missing out altogether a chance to learn a skill and forge careers for themselves which is hugely important.

“Despite the difficulties, 2013 is also going to be a great year for Leeds with the amazing arena finally opening and Trinity Leeds which are two massive new assets and attractions for the city. Hosting the world champions New Zealand and two matches in the Rugby League World Cup is going to be fantastic later in the year while we are all hugely excited by the incredible prospect of the Tour de France starting in Leeds next year, with more details to be revealed over the next 12 months.”

As part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Leeds, the council is also to introduce a new scheme entitled ‘Get Healthy Leeds’ which will see sessions in leisure centres available for free each day to encourage those who currently do not take part in any physical exercise.

October will also see the opening of the new £28m Holt Park Active wellbeing centre, offering state-of-the-art new facilities where people can access sport, older people’s services, services for those with mental health needs and learning disabilities as well as leisure, community and social activities.

From April 1, Leeds City Council will be taking on the public health responsibilities formerly managed by the Leeds Primary Care Trust. An example of the closer working between the council and the National Health Service along with other healthcare providers is the reopening of the former Harry Booth House in Beeston in April as the city’s first Joint Immediate Care Unit, providing a short-term rehabilitation and reablement service for people after they are discharged from hospital.

As part of the council’s consultation carried out before setting the 2013/14 budget, the public were asked to give their views by taking part in the online budget simulator ‘YouChoose’.

More than 2,000 responses were received, while sessions were also held with young people and third sector groups. The results called for the focus of cuts to be made to culture and leisure services, as well as economic and planning-related services. The lowest areas indicated to be cut were those in children’s services while areas to generate additional income came from charging extra for collecting bulky household waste, car parking and raising leisure centre prices.

Councillor Wakefield added:

“I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation exercise, the feedback was very useful in guiding us as we made some really tough choices.

“People are bound to feel disappointed and aggrieved at some of those choices and we do share their concerns, but we hope people can appreciate that sadly they could no longer be avoided. The next few months and even years are undoubtedly going to be very tough, but it is important to remember Leeds is still a great place to live and I am confident the city has a very bright future.”

Notes to editors:

The Leeds City Deal is overseen by Leeds City Region Partnership, which brings together the eleven local authorities of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council to work with businesses and partners toward a common prosperous and sustainable city region in areas such as transport, skills, housing, spatial planning and innovation. For more information visit www.leedscityregion.gov.uk/

ENDS

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



Media opportunity - Kick off the Rugby League World Cup 2013 with Leeds libraries



Media are invited to Leeds City Council's launch of The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge at Leeds Central Library on Saturday, 9 February at 1pm.

Leeds Rhinos and England international rugby league player Jamie Jones-Buchanan will launch the national initiative. He will be available for photographs and interviews, and will talk about his career, this year's Rugby League World Cup and the importance of reading to him and his family between 1 and 2pm.

Leeds is proud to be a host city for RLWC2013, with two high profile games being played in the city this November.

The Reading Agency has joined forces with the RLWC2013 to promote and run its Six Book Challenge for less confident readers in locations used by rugby league fans.

Please confirm your attendance by calling Claire Macklam on 0113 395 1578, or by email to claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Leeds flood scheme given £32.5m funding green light





Caption: Images (from top) of the River Aire at Crown Point now and how it will look when the new weirs are installed, and also before and after images of Knostrop (all images courtesy of Arup)

The scheme to protect Leeds city centre from the risk of flooding was today given the green light after government funding of £32.5million was confirmed.

The funding to provide flood protection along the River Aire was granted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today following a successful bid from the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council.

Leeds City Council is contributing £10m towards the cost of the £50.5m scheme, with further funding to be raised from a potential business improvement district and other local funding sources.

The work, supported by the Canal & River Trust and other partners including Yorkshire Water, will see innovative measures introduced on the River Aire to control water levels to protect over 3,000 homes and around 500 businesses safeguarding over 18,000 jobs.

The first element of the scheme will see the existing weirs at Crown Point and further downstream at Knostrop removed and replaced with moveable weirs which can be used to reduce river levels and decrease the likelihood of flooding.

The new weirs received planning approval last month and work is expected to start before summer 2014. Further work will also be carried out to remove Knostrop Cut with the river being widened by merging it with the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

Upon completion, the scheme will provide the city centre with protection from a 1 in 75-year flood. In addition, the design of the new defences will mean the formerly proposed high flood walls can be significantly reduced in height and length so maintaining the heritage and visual quality of the Leeds waterfront.

In Leeds city centre 100 properties flooded in 2000, while major flooding was only narrowly avoided in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

Leeds City Council executive member for the economy and development Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“We are very pleased to welcome this funding which means we can now get on and carry out the work to protect Leeds city centre from the risk of flooding

“Apart from providing protection and reassurance, the work will also create potential new jobs as part of the project. We thank all our partners who have helped support this scheme, but it is important to remember that areas outside the city centre also badly need flood defences installing so we will continue to look at ways they can be extended beyond the city centre.”

Flood risk manager at the Environment Agency Tony Andryszewski said:

“This year’s announcement for Flood Defence Grant in Aid funding is excellent news for communities in the Leeds area. The Environment Agency and Leeds City Council will now be able to move ahead with this important scheme.

“The government has provided additional funding for the Leeds scheme because it will protect key areas of business activity. Once the new flood defences are complete, they will provide extra confidence to the business sector, supporting local economic growth and the potential creation of new jobs."

Note to editors:

A 1:75 flood risk refers to a one in 75 year Standard of Protection (SOP), which means that, on average, the city would only be expected to flood once in every 75 years, or twice in every 150 years


ENDS


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