Thursday, 28 March 2013

Statement regarding children’s heart surgery in Leeds

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“I am shocked at the timing of today’s events following the High Court decision yesterday and the major transformational changes taking place in the NHS from Monday. Many people will be deeply sceptical about these developments and the question has to be asked why the National Commissioning Board and the Care Quality Commission have raised these issues at this time.

“The safety and wellbeing of the children and families is our main concern. We fully support the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision and hope that the findings of the review will result in services being reinstated with minimum disruption and provide reassurance to patients and families across the region.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office
(0113) 395 1578Email

Leeds children urgently need adopters – could it be you?

Loving homes are urgently needed for children across Leeds

Hundreds of children in care across the city are currently waiting for a loving family to care for them and help them grow up in a happy, stable and nurturing home.

Leeds City Council is urgently looking for people to adopt children aged mainly under four, but also for sibling groups and children with mixed ethnicity. These children come from a range of backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they need a secure home, patience, understanding and loving kindness from someone they can trust.

Leeds City Council is the largest adoption service in the north, providing for around 170 children in need of permanent adoptive homes. Our adoption support team is rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ and has expertise in all the current adoption theory, knowledge and research.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“Adopting a child or children is a rewarding, challenging and unique experience and one that is open to all. What we want to underline is that anyone can adopt, there is often a misconception that only certain groups of people can apply. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What we need are people who have the commitment to make a real difference to a vulnerable child’s life.

“We need all kinds of people to be adopters, and are looking for people with a range of different skills and experience. Please don’t rule yourself out, come and talk to our adoption team – you might be the perfect parent for a child in care.”

You don’t have to be married or have a family to adopt - adopters can be single, married, divorced, remarried, without children of their own, or already have a family. The key necessity is that they provide a permanent, stable, secure and loving home. Adoptive parents are needed who reflect a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances. Leeds especially needs parents for children of mixed or duel heritage.

People who adopt through Leeds City Council are offered ongoing training and support, from a whole team of adoption support workers. In Leeds a big emphasis is placed on finding the perfect ‘match’ by working closely with prospective adopters to combine their skills and experience and personalities to match children who need adopting.

There are regular information evenings where people can find out more about becoming an adopter which are held once a month at the South Leeds City Learning Centre, Gipsy Lane, LS11 5TT at 7:00pm. These will be held on the following dates:
16 April
21 May
18 June
23 July
17 September
15 October
19 November
10 December

Visit now for more information or call our dedicated adoption recruitment line on: 0113 395 2072.

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

The challenge is on for the Burley Champions!

Issued on behalf of Rosebank Primary School, Leeds

Children from Rosebank Primary School in Leeds are working on an exciting local history project, which was recently awarded a grant of £21,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Over 20 talented and enthusiastic children from the school have joined the ‘Burley Champions’ project team. Trained in oral history interview and film making techniques, they have already interviewed 15 older residents and are now busy planning the final film. Focusing primarily on the stories of ordinary local people, but also looking at the built heritage, the film will explore and celebrate the rich industrial and cultural heritage of Burley. The challenge is now on to get the film completed in time for its screening at Hyde Park Picture House in June.

Head teacher Gill Young is delighted at the progress of the project:
“Children, parents and volunteers have entered into this project with great enthusiasm and have learned a great deal about Burley’s history. We have been delighted that so many older residents of Burley have come forward to be interviewed and share their memories of Burley.

The children have been fascinated to hear about the bombing of houses in the second World War and what it was like to work in the old factories.”

As part of the background research for the trip, the Burley Champions recently went on a study trip to Armley Mills Industrial Museum, which is one of the project’s partners. Once the largest woollen mill in the world, Armley Mills is amongst many industrial buildings built along the river Aire during the 19th century. Burley’s red brick terraces were built to provide the housing for many of the factory workers. Armley Mills proved a great place to learn about effect the industrial revolution on the population of Leeds. As well as seeing the Mill’s collections, the children also got a chance to have a role play session, dressing up in costumes and seeing what it would have been like to be a worker in a mill in times gone by.

Details about the film launch will be publicised on the project website which already gives a flavour of the project’s many activities – For further information about the project, contact Gill Young at Rosebank Primary School on 0113 243 3497 or email


Notes for Editors:

Press photos: Photo can be downloaded here:
Captions: Older residents share their memories with two of the young Burley Champions. (L-R: Lillian Blackwood, Mary James, Alice Whipp, Maymas Siddig, Maymona Siddig.)

Rosebank Primary School is a thriving inner-city school with 271 pupils. The school is actively committed to using local history as a way of engaging and inspiring children, helping them to gain skills and confidence and encouraging them to develop a shared understanding and pride in their local area and in their multi-cultural roots.

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 33,000 projects, allocating £5billion across the UK including £380m to 2,845 projects in Yorkshire & the Humber alone. Website:

Fine for beck flytipping

A flytipping trip down the garden path has led a Leeds man straight to court.

Christopher Blackman, Langbar Approach, Swarcliffe appeared before magistrates on 19 March for dumping the same pile of household rubbish twice.

Blackman pleaded guilty to two offences under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and was fined £100 and ordered to pay £150 costs with a £15 victim surcharge.

Blackman had been hired by a Swarcliffe resident to dispose of waste from a home DIY project.

Instead of properly disposing of the bricks, wood, furniture and other household items, Blackman used a wheelbarrow to shift the waste through the garden and into Cock Beck, which forms part of a popular nature walk that runs through Whinmoor, Swarcliffe and Manston.

The offending items were found by an environmental action officer on patrol. The subsequent investigation, along with information provided by local residents and muddy wheelbarrow tracks from the beck led the officer to the property that was undergoing renovation.

When interviewed, the householder admitted hiring Blackman, paying him £20 to remove the waste. Following the interview the householder told Blackman to move the rubbish from the beck and dispose of it properly.

Blackman did move the waste, but only to dump it a second time on nearby Langbar Close. The council then stepped in to clear up the mess.

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

“Having been caught out once is bad enough, but to dump waste for a second time really is unacceptable.

“If you are working on your home you need to be sure that if you pay someone to remove the waste that they are going to do so properly.

“Blatantly flytipping into a beck not only risks polluting the natural environment but could cause a blockage and increase the risk of flooding.

“Thanks to the diligence and dedication of our environmental action officers we’ll continue to pursue those who commit environmental crime.”

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


Landlord fined £9,000 for ignoring fire safety

A Leeds landlord has felt the heat after being fined over £9,000 for consistently ignoring fire safety warnings from the council on a privately rented property.

Mrs Farideh Poorsheiki of 319 Burley Road, Leeds failed to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court on Tuesday 26 March but was fined £9066.55 for five offences relating to fire safety in the rented property on East Park Grove.

Council officers inspected the privately rented property last year where a number of serious breaches of housing legislation were revealed. The property appeared to have been neglected for some time, with internal doors smashed and disrepair to the external fabric. An officer attempted on numerous occasions to meet the landlord to inspect the property but she failed to attend.

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

“It is not acceptable that we have some landlords who consistently choose to disregard tenant safety and advice from council officers.

“We will take action wherever possible against rogue landlords and hope this latest prosecution sends a clear message to landlords who fail to improve housing standards in this area.

“The council has been concerned about the state of repair of some properties on East Park Grove. Three landlords have been prosecuted already in this road and a number of cases are pending on this road alone. This is an issue that we will be monitoring closely and taking action when and where necessary.”

East Park Grove falls within the Cross Green Selective Licensing Area. All landlords operating privately rented properties require a licence from the council before they can operate in this area. To date, in excess of fifty prosecutions have taken place of landlords in the selective licence area for either not complying with licence requirements or failing to licence their properties.

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

Leeds sports pitches available for use at the referee's discretion

Due to the varying conditions of pitches around the city following this week's snowfall, all Leeds City Council-managed sports pitches will be available use this weekend, but the decision over whether matches go ahead will be at the referee's discretion.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Leeds new contract puts the focus on disabled children

Leeds is making a pact with disabled children, to put them at the heart of all future decisions which impact them.

Improving the lives of children with disabilities is at the forefront of Leeds’ decision to renew its commitment to a nationwide charter.

The city’s leading councillor responsible for children’s services, Judith Blake, signed a renewed Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) charter on behalf of the council earlier this month.

The Every Disabled Child Matters campaign is run by four of the leading organisations working with disabled children and their families - Contact a Family, the Council for Disabled Children, Mencap and the Special Education Consortium. Its aim is to ensure every local authority makes a clear commitment to improve services for, and to be held accountable by, disabled children and their families.

The charters are a set of commitments that local authorities can sign up to show that disabled children are a priority in their area. Leeds City Council was one of the 99 local authorities to demonstrate its commitment to local disabled children and their families by signing EDCM’s original LA Charter in 2008. The EDCM have now drawn up a new charter, including new commitments which Leeds City Council has signed up to today.

The council will now carry out an audit using the new charter commitments and an action plan will be developed and monitored to ensure full compliance within twelve months.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“We want Leeds to be the best city for all children to grow up in, regardless of their abilities, so we are making this pact especially with disabled children and their families to say their wants and needs will be at the heart of everything we do.

“By signing up to this charter we can make sure the services we provide for disabled children and their families meet the standards they expect and deserve.

“We are committed to creating opportunities for children with disabilities and making our city as accessible and welcoming as possible for everyone.”

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

Leeds children’s services get the seal of approval from young people

Young people who, themselves have experience of the care system say that Leeds children’s services meets all their standards.

Leeds City Council’s children’s services was assessed by LILAC (Leading Improvements for Looked After Children) - an organisation which is led by young people who have either been in care themselves, or other close experience of the care system, and was deemed to have met all their seven standards.

Young people from LILAC visited Leeds last month to assess the progress of children’s services in involving children and young people in improving their care. Following the visit LILAC assessed that the council have made very good progress and now fully meets all seven standards on important issues such as values, strategy, care planning, staffing and complaints

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“We are absolutely committed to putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do. Listening to their ideas and needs is crucial to helping us achieve our aim of becoming the best city for children to grow up in. This is all the more important for children who are in our care and so I am really pleased that the young people from LILAC were impressed with our services.

“This assessment means a lot to us as LILAC is a unique organisation led by young people who have first-hand experience of the care system and so what they think matters.

“Achieving this standard is a good measure of our progress in developing a more Child Friendly city and child-centred social work service and shows our new ways of working are making a real difference to the lives of children and young people in care and foster carers.”

Achieving these standards recognises strong improvements in key areas of work for children’s services including:
• an approach to care that is centred around children and young people;
• involving children and young people in the recruitment and selection of staff;
• improving the quality of the building in some residential homes;
• improving training for staff and foster carers, and;
• a better approach to complaints and advocacy.

For further information about LILAC and their standards, please see:

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

Councillors call for good infrastructure to support major East Leeds Extension plans

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel earlier this week councillors looked in detail at the plans for the proposed East Leeds Extension, the development of Thorpe Park and the infrastructure surrounding it.

Plans involve the building of a new orbital road and the Manston Lane Link Road, which would bring significant development to this area of the city. They will require a whole-council approach to working with landowners, stakeholders and communities across the area to ensure the key road and other essential infrastructure is put in place at the right times.

The panel heard position statements regarding several applications from developers. The East Leeds Extension proposal is to build 2,000 new homes along with a retail centre, health centre and provision for new schools and open space. The Thorpe Park applications involve new retail developments, offices and road infrastructure which will form part of the new orbital road.

Detailed applications for the Manston Lane Link Road would connect into the existing highway infrastructure and link to the M1 motorway at junction 46. The formation of a public park comes as part of the current planning consent and requires the developer to deliver a 47 acre public park on the land to the west of Thorpe Park.

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

“The East Leeds Extension scheme would bring new housing, employment and a raft of other benefits to the local community, however, there are a number of very significant issues that remain to be concluded to ensure that communities get the best possible outcome from this.

“Before any of the build on these projects starts we need to make sure that the infrastructure to support more traffic to the area is in place.

“Whilst wishing to support new investment at Thorpe Park, the council will be careful to take account of the impact of new retail development on nearby centres and the city centre.

“I am aware of concerns from local people that building homes without the necessary transport infrastructure will lead to problems, which is why the council will be playing a leading role in the delivery of the orbital road and other infrastructure requirements.

“We will be looking at planning for the whole of East Leeds as well as on a site by site basis. We need to make sure that there is a coordination of investment, development and traffic implications across the whole area to ensure all aspects such as shops, schools, health facilities and green spaces along with affordable housing are correctly located.”


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

More free time online as Leeds city centre WiFi expands

It is a key date in the diary for one of Leeds’ premier events venues as Millennium Square becomes the latest place to benefit from the city’s free WiFi service.

From Friday 29 March the Leeds Free WiFi goes live in Millennium Square, following a successful city centre launch in Briggate at Christmas, with thousands of users already signed up.

They will be connected automatically to the new service in Millennium Square, with new users easily able to register by searching for “Leeds Free WiFi” on their mobile device.

It will mean that people will be able to use it while attending any of the many events hosted there throughout the year- such as the Ice Cube, exhibitions or one-off gigs like that by indie rock band The Vaccines in May.

As it will be accessible all year round, it will also mean that any visitors to the square- whether shopping, passing through or taking a lunch break from work- will be able to make the most of it.

Since the launch on Briggate on December 19, people visiting the city’s main shopping street have enjoyed more than 475,000 free minutes of internet access.

The free mobile internet access has been made available thanks to a collaboration between Leeds City Council and Virgin Media Business. And unlike similar public WiFi arrangements where it is only free for the first quarter or half hour, the Leeds Free WiFi will remain free for as long as the user is connected.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, Leeds City Council, said:
“Expanding the Leeds Free WiFi service to Millennium Square enables even more visitors, residents and businesses to use it and it has the added bonus of making the experience of attending events easier to share.

“It has been great to see how popular the Briggate free WiFi has been since its launch just a few months ago. Leeds was one of the first places in the country to offer such a scheme and this is further proof of our commitment to high-tech digital infrastructure to help attract jobs, investment and visitors to the city.”

The service will be run by Virgin Media Business under an agreement that ensures there is no cost or risk to the council and it has put in place the infrastructure for the WiFi connectivity in conjunction with its partner, Global Reach Technology.

Kevin Baughan, director of wireless, Virgin Media Business, commented:
“Today the citizens of Leeds will begin benefitting from access to superfast public WiFi in Millennium Square, taking its place alongside Briggate which launched the service in December last year. Leeds City Council is setting an example for the rest of the country by showing what’s possible with the latest technology and collaboration.

“The public’s appetite for accessing data on the move on smartphones and tablets is bigger than ever before, and this kind of technology will be vital in helping to provide faster speeds as more people demand more data. Very soon cities will demand even faster connectivity and more capacity. By working in partnership with cities like Leeds and mobile operators we’re not only rolling out innovative public services, we’re also laying the foundations that will boost the mobile experience over 3G, 4G and beyond.”

People wishing to use the free WiFi will be able to set smartphones, tablets or laptops to locate the ‘Leeds Free WiFi’ service and then follow a simple registration process.

The development paves the way for a potentially expanding WiFi network and also the deployment of next generation 3G and ultimately 4G ‘small cell’ wireless networks, which will transform mobile access and meet the growing use of smartphones and tablets in the city.

Notes to editors:
The high performance WiFi service is free for anybody to use and is operated for Virgin Media Business by its partner Global Reach Communications Ltd, powered by Virgin Media’s fibre network.

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