Thursday, 13 June 2013

Leeds City Region Leaders' concerns about cuts to science museums


Issued on behalf of the Leeds City Region

Council Leaders from across the Leeds City Region have sent a letter to the Chancellor, George Osborne, expressing their concerns about potential further cuts to the national Science Museum Group’s funding, following the Government’s spending review at the end of June.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, the National Railway Museum in York, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Science Museum in London are run by the Science Museum Group.

The Science Museum Group, which has already made 25 per cent cuts since 2010, has to address a large projected financial deficit from 2014 onwards. The Science Museum Group has said that if an additional 10 per cent cut is made in the spending review at the end of this month, they would have very little choice than to close one of the northern national science museums, as their year-on-year financial deficit would rise from £2 million to £6 million.

These northern national museums play a crucial role in educating and inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers, to drive our country’s economy and its international competitiveness. The museums are also vital to the local and regional economies of Bradford, York and Manchester.

The National Media Museum in Bradford contributes over £24 million per annum to the city and district’s economy in indirect offsite expenditure. As an employer of 103 full time equivalent (FTE) staff it generates GVA (Gross Value Added) of around £3.7 million.

The National Railway Museum in York is at the heart of tourism in the city attracting 700,000 visitors a year with an economic impact of between £40-50 million GVA: a critical part of York’s visitor offer planned to be a significant factor in the city’s plans to double the value of tourism in ten years.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester provides a direct GVA, benefit of over £7 million as a direct employer and purchaser (supporting nearly 150 FTE jobs) and indirect offsite expenditure of nearly £28 million, generating GVA of nearly £8 million.

The Council Leaders are equally concerned about potential funding cuts to the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield. Funding for the National Coal Mining Museum is now contracted through the Science Museum Group. This funding is ring-fenced until 2015, but after then it’s up to the Science Museum Group how much funding the National Coal Mining Museum receives, so any further cuts to the Group will inevitably affect its future viability.

Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board, said:
"In our letter to the Chancellor we propose that funding for the Science Museum Group is moved from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Also that the current level of funding is protected, in the long term interests of our northern cities and the nation as a whole.”

Cllr James Alexander, Leader of City of York Council, said:
"The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has a £13 million ‘science and society’ programme and spends its money on a plethora of initiatives, but not on the Science Museum Group. This does not make sense because the science museums are trusted by the public and teachers and have the best experience of presenting science with the greatest impact and reach across the country.”

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, said:
"Meetings have taken place between Bradford, York and Manchester councils and with the Science Museum Group to discuss how we might support the future of the national science museums in our cities. Clearly, the economic and cultural impact of closing a national science museum in Bradford, York or Manchester would be devastating.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:
1. The Leeds City Region (LCR) Partnership brings together a group of 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council), its local enterprise partnership (LEP) and partners to support economic growth and a better quality of life for our communities.

2. To achieve this vision the Partnership is working to deliver a city region wide economic strategy, “The Plan”. The Plan’s objectives are to support business and enterprise, enable a skilled and flexible workforce, foster a low carbon, sustainable economy and create the infrastructure for growth.

3. To ensure effective delivery of these priorities the Partnership was one of the first to agree a ‘city deal’, securing Government support to deliver its flagship initiatives.

The Leeds City Region economy
1. The Leeds City Region is the largest city region economy and financial centre in the country outside London. With a £54billion economy representing 5% of England’s economy, over 100,000 businesses and a 3 million population, the city region continues to be at the forefront in driving the economy of the North and accelerating national economic prosperity.

2. For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit www.leedscityregion.gov.uk.

ENDS

For press/media enquiries please contact:
Maraki.Thomas@leeds.gov.uk
Senior Communications Officer
Leeds City Region Partnership
Tel: 07891 278049

ENDS

Insulation scheme wraps up award nomination

Leeds City Council’s free insulation scheme reached the finals of a top green award.

Wrap Up Leeds was a finalist in the climate change category of the Yorkshire Post’s 2013 environment awards.

Throughout 2012, the partnership between Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Energy Services insulated 10,007 lofts and cavity walls in 8,098 privately owned and rented homes for free. Around 500 of these households have been lifted out of fuel poverty.

Domestic properties account for around a third of all emissions in Leeds so with residents using less energy to heat their homes, CO2 emissions are expected to be cut by over 5,600 tonnes each year.

This will go some way to helping the council and Leeds as a city reduce its emissions by 40% by 2020.

Residents are also expected to save a combined total of £1.4million on their energy bills every year having had their loft and cavity walls insulated for the first time or having their existing loft insulation topped up.

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

“Although we didn’t win, being in the final three is still a great endorsement of all that Wrap Up Leeds has achieved.

“Not only will the project make a significant dent into Leeds’ emissions year on year, many vulnerable people will feel the benefit of a warmer home and save on their fuel bills.

“While winning would be the icing on the cake for Wrap Up Leeds, we’re delighted that the environment and our residents are the real winners.”

Vincent McCabe, managing director at Yorkshire Energy Services said:

“The Wrap Up Leeds scheme was a great success and has really helped our company develop proficiently over the past 12 months. Not only have we been able to generate and safe guard jobs, but been able to create a strong working relationship with Leeds City Council which we hope to build on through future carbon reduction programmes that will continue to help residents reduce their fuel bills and save energy in the home.”

The awards, now in their fifth year, celebrate the very best of the environmental work being done throughout the region.

The work started by Wrap Up Leeds has been continued in the Wrap Up Leeds+ project, offering grants and interest free loans so people can make energy efficient home improvements.

The council is also set to announce details of a new partnership to offer the Green Deal to Leeds residents prior to a city region-wide Green Deal offer being launched in 2014.

ENDS

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

Vital bridge works to keep community connected

Caption: Cllr Richard Lewis (sixth from right) and representatives from Leeds City Council, Canal & River Trust, Thornhill Estates and Colas officially open the revamped Parkin Lane Bridge.

A special opening ceremony has marked the completion of vital works to keep a Calverley bridge open.


Between November 2012 and May 2013 engineering work was carried out to the Parkin Lane Bridge.

The 160-year-old Victorian structure was showing signs of serious deterioration, threatening the only access for vehicles to the small community.

Working with the local community, Thornhill Estates, the Canal & River Trust and contractor Colas, an innovative scheme was developed to carry out the strengthening work whilst maintaining access across the bridge.

As well as providing access, the bridge carries the Calverley Cutting over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Calverley Cutting is a track created in 1856 to replace the old packhorse track through Calverley to Apperley Bridge.

Parkin Lane Bridge also forms part of the Calverley Millennium Way, a special walk around the boundary of the village created by local people.

The work involved installing new structural steelwork that supports rather than replaces the existing cast iron bridge. Lifting equipment mounted on pontoons on the canal was used to lift the steelwork into place.

Exposed metal work was repaired and repainted, including the beams and the decorative parapet railings. Repairs to the road surface were also carried out.

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

“At this site we were faced with the real potential of there being no road links into the community. We therefore had no other option than to invest in these vital repair works to ensure that local people stay connected. At the same time, however, we considered an approach that incorporated heritage matters, thus ensuring that the works were in keeping with the local area.

“Close partnership working on this scheme meant that a challenging construction project was successfully delivered and the bridge will continue to service residents for many years to come.”

Edmund Thornhill, Thornhill Estates, said:

“This is a good news story and another example of Leeds and Thornhill working well together. The superbly refurbished and strengthened bridge provides access also to the magnificent woodland providing a beautiful backdrop. It has been a pleasure being involved in the project and seeing it to its conclusion.”

ENDS

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

Free micro-chip day for dogs a success

Leeds City Council teamed up with the Dogs Trust to hold another of their regular events, where dog lovers were invited to bring along their dogs to Middleton Park for free dog chipping.

The day was a great success, with more than 40 dogs receiving their free micro-chip over the course of the 4-hour event. Throughout the day, responsible dog ownership was promoted, with owners being reminded of the importance of cleaning up after their dogs in order to tackle the city’s wider problem with dog litter.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment, said:

“I was very pleased to hear that the day was such a success and that so many people got their dogs chipped.”

“It created a great opportunity to give people advice; reminding them of what it takes to be a responsible dog owner and encouraging them to pick up after their dogs, which remains an issue that residents throughout the city are fed up with.”


Caption: Picture above shows Hilary Rodgers from New Farnley getting her dog Abbey chipped by environmental action officer Darren Banks and Dogs Trust Leeds education officer Laura Jane Muscroft. Picture below shows Michael Hulswit from Beeston with his dog Barney receiving a micro-chip from dog warden Gavin Jarrett and Laura Jane Muscroft.


ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Francesca Foulkes, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
email: francesca.foulkes@leeds.gov.uk

Essential repair work to Billams Hill culvert in Otley

Works to repair a damaged culvert is due to be carried out on Billams Hill in Otley from 22 July 2013.

The work will be ongoing for five weeks to allow for essential repair works to the reinforced concrete slab which supports the road which carries the B6451 Billams Hill in Otley, immediately north of Otley Bridge.

The repair work that needs doing was originally discovered during a routine inspection of the structure, at which point temporary barriers were installed to narrow the road and prevent traffic from using the damaged area.

Temporary two-way traffic signals will be installed whilst the repairs take place. The traffic signals will be manually controlled at peak times to reduce the impact on the traffic flow as far as possible.

The programme of works has been scheduled to take place during the school holidays, when traffic is lighter, to minimise the disruption to traffic.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for development and the economy said:

“We have deliberately scheduled the work to the culvert on Billams Hill to take place during a period when traffic is much lighter, and at a time we hope will cause the least disruption to traffic.

“The work needs to be carried out to ensure the structure is safe and can deal with the level of traffic flow that uses it.

“Unfortunately, some congestion during these works may be unavoidable and I would like to thank the public in anticipation of their patience whilst we undertake these works.”


Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk