Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Council considers plan to help Kirkstall scheme forge ahead

Councillors will next week be asked to approve a funding package that could enable initial works on a major regeneration scheme and railway station at Kirkstall to forge ahead.

A new riverside community of affordable housing, office space and shopping and leisure facilities is planned for the former Kirkstall Forge site, where Kirkstall Abbey’s Cistercian monks produced their own iron.

It would create a thriving new family-friendly community in a beautiful, historic riverside setting with around 1,000 homes, 300 construction posts, along with an estimated 1,800 direct jobs and 300 across the wider area on completion.

There are also plans for a new Kirkstall Forge railway station to increase accessibility to the area from both Leeds and Bradford.

Leeds City Council’s executive board is to be asked at its meeting next week (June 19) to agree spending £9.9 million on highways infrastructure work to provide access to both the regeneration scheme and the proposed railway station.

Councillors will hear that the for Kirkstall Forge to get off the ground it will need a new access road from the A65 to the station with a road and pedestrian bridge over the River Aire, along with a new road junction with traffic lights on the A65 itself and temporary parking for 190 vehicles.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, Leeds City Council, said:
“Kirkstall Forge is a unique and very special development that offers a rare opportunity to create a thriving new mixed-use community on a brownfield site in a lovely historical setting not far from the city centre.”

“However, for it to be able to get under way the relevant road infrastructure needs to be in place and this is why the executive board is being asked to consider approving this spending upfront.”

The scheme itself is to be developed by CEG Ltd on behalf of site owners GMV Twelve Ltd, with whom an agreement is being negotiated to repay the costs to the council of the highways infrastructure spending, and a security package has been agreed to safeguard the council’s investment. The council would finance the works upfront through borrowing.

The contract for the works would not be let until the Department for Transport agrees the final business case for the Leeds Rail Growth Package, which it is due to consider in Spring 2014.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk


Car parking and permit charges set for discussion

Senior councillors are set to discuss a review of car parking and fees for residential parking permits next week (Wednesday 19 June 2013).

Having previously discussed the overall car parking strategy, members of the council’s executive board are being asked to approve; charges for on street parking in the evenings and on Sundays, a £5 tariff at the council’s Woodhouse Lane car park for arena events and opening the refurbished facility 24 hours a day.

In a separate report, councillors are being asked to approve initial proposals for charges for residential parking permits. These would be consulted on before final recommendations are brought back to executive board.

Leeds is one of a few remaining core cities which doesn’t yet charge for parking in the evenings or on Sundays and that still offers free residential parking permits.

The report on parking charges proposes a flat rate of £2 from 6pm until 10pm seven days a week. From 10am to 6pm on Sundays, parking for up to four hours would cost £1 while over four hours would cost £4.

The report on residential parking permits proposes to start a consultation on suggested charges which are: £50 per year for the first permit and £50 for additional permits. It is suggested that a flexible approach is taken to visitors permits to accommodate different needs with an annual visitor permit costing £50 and £10 for a pack of 10 day tickets.

If approved by executive board, a series of focus groups will discuss the initial proposals and around 16,000 existing permit holders in 98 residential parking zones will be contacted. Following the consultation, where all views will be considered, a decision will be made as to whether the proposals are taken forward or not.

The review of charging for both services was agreed in the 2013/14 budget as a measure to help the council find ways to save £54.9million.

46% of people who took part in the YouChoose budget setting challenge earlier this year said they’d increase car parking charges to help the council balance its books.

Both reports that acknowledge that charging for previously free services isn’t popular but that not introducing these charges could mean charging for other council services that may prove even more contentious.

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

“We certainly don’t underestimate the part that parking has to play in the economy of our vibrant city centre, however we’ve reached a financial point where we have to do things differently.

“The previous review of the parking strategy highlighted the complex need to provide a good turnover of spaces balanced against the need to keep the economy moving and encouraging people to make the most of public transport.

“We also need to take into account the influx of visitors that recent and upcoming developments will bring to the city centre. Making Woodhouse Lane a 24 hour car park and competitive event pricing is the next natural step in supporting the first direct arena for example.

“If agreed, the pricing structure recommended for on street parking is extremely modest and would provide a very competitive offer for a small proportion of the number of spaces we control compared to the thousands offered by private companies.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, said:

“As a council we are currently facing unprecedented financial constraints on our budget, and as such are having to explore all options in which to meet this challenge.

“Residents parking is one avenue that we wish to explore through a public consultation, because while we still need to address those areas where residents tell us they are having problems parking, there is currently a significant cost to implementing and maintaining residential parking zones.

“By undertaking a consultation if agreed by the executive board, we will be able to hear the views of those residents who may be affected, and use this information when deciding in the future whether or not to proceed with any proposals.”

The charges for extended on street parking would be implemented later this year. A report on charges for residential parking permits will go back to executive board later this year.

Blue Badge holders would still be able to park for free in residential parking zones and at council parking facilities.

The charges proposed for evenings and Sundays are below that of other commercial providers and would apply to 2,400 on-street council-controlled parking spaces.

Results of the city centre car parking consultation carried out in late 2012 and early 2013 revealed that of those who responded, 65% didn’t favour the introduction of evening or Sunday car parking charges. Those that did were in favour of flat rate charges.

A previous review of car parking identified over 18,800 parking spaces available in the city centre, with the council controlling 29% of these. The review also examined the impact of future developments on car parking provision as well as occupancy trends, pricing and income generated by parking charges.

It’s anticipated that population growth alongside new city centre developments will result in more people travelling to and from the city centre. The council’s car parking policy and charging for that parking has a key role to play in the transport strategy so increased travel can be accommodated in more sustainable ways.

Residential parking zones are introduced at the request of local people who are experiencing access or parking issues when there is an influx of additional people parking in that area.

Currently, free permits for residents and their visitors are issued for three years to give people priority to park near their home. It costs around £250 per space to put residential parking zones in place. Any charges introduced would help cover costs of introducing and maintaining residential parking zones.

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

New website comparing early death rates in Leeds

People in Leeds can view local statistics offering an insight into how rates for premature deaths from major diseases compare across England as a new website is launched.

Longer Lives, launched by Public Health England today, is intended to allow people and local authorities to see statistics on early deaths from heart disease and stroke, cancer, lung and liver disease.

These conditions account for 79% of all premature deaths in Leeds and people can also look into how these vary across the country and compare areas with similar populations, incomes and levels of health.

However, while noting the intention to make information more accessible in order to help tackle the most challenging health issues, Leeds City Council is also calling for more up-to-date information to be made available.

Cllr Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City’s Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing said:
“The data published by Public Health England is historic and shows the situation we as a council are inheriting as we take over local responsibility for public health from the NHS. We are well aware of this overall snapshot of the city’s health and the work already done on reducing mortality rates.

“For these serious health conditions Leeds is comparatively low in these rankings, especially for a big city. However, we remain deeply concerned about tackling long-seated health inequalities across the city and why some people are dying prematurely compared to others.

“This is why improving the health of the poorest people in our communities is top of the priorities outlined in the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy we have just published. Public health is best-placed in local authorities so we can tackle entrenched health inequalities and the socio-economic deprivation that they mirror.”

As an example of the approach the new board is taking, it has highlighted cardiovascular disease (CVD) as one of the main areas it wants to tackle. The priority within the strategy is to ensure people in Leeds have equal access to screening and prevention services.

Work has been under way since 2009 to ensure people in Leeds take the NHS Health Check, a vascular risk assessment for all those between the ages of 40 and 74. It was initially targeted only in the most deprived areas of Leeds but now covering the whole of the population. Over 27,000 NHS Health Checks were completed in 2012/13 alone and 87,000 since 2009.

In 2011 a retrospective audit took place in Leeds into the premature deaths of over 800 people from CVD to inform future health planning. There was a gap of nearly nine years in the life expectancy of those who had a GP, compared to those who were not registered with a family doctor.

Deprivation was also shown to have a significant impact on when someone died. The priority for 2013/14 will be to ensure those living in the most deprived areas of Leeds have a high uptake of the NHS Health Check programme.

One big improvement over the past 10 years is the major reduction in the number of people who smoke, as 77% of adults in the city are now non-smokers. However, while there is still a significant number of people who smoke, the city will continue to experience unacceptable levels of preventable disease and premature death. This is why Leeds is addressing all aspects of tobacco control as a priority.

Significant progress has also been made on increasing the early diagnosis of lung cancer in the over-50s with a targeted approach in inner East and inner South Leeds.

Notes to editors:
To arrange interviews or for further information on the Leeds City Council/Health and Wellbeing Board perspective contact the Leeds City Council press office.

To view the Longer Lives website, go to http://longerlives.phe.org.uk/ and for further information on its launch contact Public Health England’s regional press office, Yorkshire and the Humber Centre, phone: 0113 386 0388 email: yorkshireandHumberPressoffi@phe.gov.uk or visit www.gov.uk/phe

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Communications Manager, Press & Media Relations
Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk