Thursday, 4 July 2013

Council agrees six figure boost to bring empty properties back to use

Leeds City Council has agreed to invest £100,000 in a social enterprise to support the council’s aim to bring empty properties in the city back in to use.

Bringing empty homes back into use is a top 10 priority for the council and earlier this year the executive board agreed additional funds to support work achieve this. The council has been working in partnership with a Leeds based social enterprise; Leeds Empties on new innovative ways of bringing empty homes back into occupation. To help support this on-going work the council has agreed to support Leeds Empties with funding of £100k.

It is planned that the investment will be used to expand the ‘Empty Home Doctor Service’, develop a one-stop website for owners of empty properties, and look at new funding options to help address empty homes.

The Empty Homes Doctor concept allows an independent person to work with an owner of an empty property to explore all available options to bring their home back into use. They can also let them know about contractors, solicitors and other organisations who they could contact to help them to bring their property back into use - a role which the council is unable to play.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member responsible for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:
“Bringing empty homes back into use is a top priority for the council and something that we are making good progress in. This funding will allow Leeds Empties to accelerate the great work they have already started.

“Their Empty Homes Doctor service has already proven that it can provide quick-wins for property owners and help them resolve issues to bring their empty homes back into use, without the need for council intervention.”

Rob Greenland from Leeds Empties said:
“We’re looking forward to working more with the council’s empty homes team to bring more long-term empty homes back into use. Our Empty Homes Doctor will be offering one-to-one support to owners of empty homes who aren’t sure what to do next. We’ll also be working out how to get more investment into green refurbishment of empty properties, which will help lift more people in Leeds out of fuel poverty.

“Our work so far has made it clear to us that there are lots of people and organisations in Leeds who want to help to turn empty properties into homes. So we’ll be working hard over the next 12 months to continue to engage a wide range of people in bringing empty homes back into use.”

Leeds Empties will also use some of the investment to further develop their website which provides home owners with help, advice and offers from organisations to encourage the owners to address issues which are preventing them from bringing their properties back into use.

The investment will mean home owners will be able to access support and advice to get their homes back into use – an alternative to the council’s more enforcement orientated approach. It will also allow the council’s empty homes team to focus their efforts engaging with properties owners who require a more formal approach.

Notes to editors:
Leeds Empties is delivered by Leeds-based social enterprise Social Business Brokers CIC. Social Business Brokers work with people to develop enterprising ways to tackle complex social problems.

Leeds Empties was developed to identify ways to bring more empty homes back into use. The main areas of work include:
• An Empty Homes Doctor service – offering one-to-one support to bring more empty homes back into use.
• Work to attract investment into green refurbishment of empty properties – to help take more people out of fuel poverty.
• Engaging local people and organisations – in particular local businesses – in bringing more empty homes back into use.

Anyone who owns an empty home in Leeds can contact the Empty Homes Doctor via the Leeds Empties website or by ringing 0113 815 2024

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

Fast food operator takes away fine from court

The owner of a city centre takeaway has been ordered to pay nearly £2,500 by magistrates for allowing staff to pile loose bags of putrid rubbish behind his shop.

Mohammed Butt, who runs Capones on New Briggate, pleaded guilty to two offences committed under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 when he appeared at Leeds Magistrates court last month.

Butt was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine along with £1,352.91 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

Environmental action officers received a complaint about uncontained waste to rear of takeaways on New Briggate last September. They found around 40 bags of leftovers and general rubbish piled on the ground, which had clearly been there for some time.

Knowing the area was already being treated by the council’s pest control team for a rat infestation, officers were keen to identify the source of the waste.

Items in the bags led them to Capones. While investigating, officers witnessed staff from the shop illegally dumping more bags on the ground in sight of a large trade waste bin.

Butt had previously been issued with a legal notice by environmental action officers in May 2012 to ensure there was a suitable bin to contain the shop’s rubbish and that waste must be put in the bin at all times.

Although Butt cleared the bags of rotting rubbish, he was prosecuted as he’d allowed waste to be illegally deposited, hadn’t put in place sufficient measures to prevent this and had let waste escape from his control.

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

“We have an £8million annual bill for street cleaning and when waste is strewn across streets because it’s not been dealt with or secured properly, this is another drain on our resources.

“Businesses are legally required to store and dispose of their rubbish and everyone has a civic duty to help us keep Leeds clean and green.

“When businesses fail to keep up their end of the bargain, we won’t hesitate to take action”.

Caption: Some of the waste environmental officers found piled behind Capones on New Briggate.

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


International rugby league tournament kicks off in Leeds

From left to right: Adam Newton of GB Police RL, Emma Slowe of England Women RL, Kevin Sinfield of England RL, Andy Wharton of England Wheelchair RL, Chris Gordon of GB Armed Forces RL and Alistair Leek of England Students RL.

Rugby league fans in Leeds are being encouraged to show their support for the sport in its grass roots form as the Festival of World Cups gets underway in the city this week.

The Festival of World Cups brings together five competitions - women's, wheelchair, armed forces, student and police, with teams from all over the world taking part.

The 14 international teams for the women’s, police, and student festivals are basing themselves in Leeds for the duration of the tournament, which runs from 3 July and culminates in a finals day at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on 14 July. Group stage games are taking place at a number of venues around Leeds and West Yorkshire including South Leeds Stadium, Provident Stadium in Bradford, The Big Fellas Stadium in Featherstone, The LoveRugbyLeague.Com Stadium in Batley, and The Tetley’s Stadium in Dewsbury.

The Festival of World Cups Finals Day takes place at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Sunday July 14 when the Police, Women’s and Students finals take place at 11.30am, 1.45pm and 4pm, respectively.

The festival is part of what will be a momentous year for rugby league with the 2013 Rugby League World Cup being staged in England and Wales this autumn.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member for leisure and skills said:

“We are delighted to welcome another international sporting event to the city, and this coupled with us being a host city for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup later this year, really cements Leeds' place as a capital for community rugby league.

“We're also welcoming 14 international teams and their supporters for the women’s, police and students tournaments, and as they are basing themselves in Leeds for the duration of the festival, tourism and local businesses around the city will also benefit.

“The Festival of Rugby League World Cups is a real celebration of grass roots rugby league, and the culmination of the tournaments in a finals day at Headingley Carnegie Stadium in July will be a wonderful and affordable family sporting occasion.”

England RL captain Kevin Sinfield said:

“It is great that Headingley Carnegie is hosting Finals Day for the Festival of World Cups. Headingley Carnegie has hosted some of the greatest names in our games history for over a century and I am sure this will be another great occasion.”

All four second-round student world cup games on Super Sunday will be played at South Leeds Stadium, with tickets priced at £5 for adults, with under-16s going free. Tickets are available at the stadium during office hours, or by calling 0113 271 2730. Tickets will also be available on match days.

Tickets for the Finals Day are on sale priced at £6 for adults and £2 for under-16s. Tickets can be bought online at: or by calling the RFL Box Office on 0844 856 1113. Tickets will also be available for purchase on the day.

Notes to editors

Super Sunday - Sunday 7 July Student World Cup at South Leeds Stadium, Leeds
12.00pm Scotland v Russia
2.00pm Australia v New Zealand
4.30pm South Africa v Ireland
6.30pm England v Wales

Finals Day - Sunday 14 July at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds
11.30am Police World Cup final
1.45pm Women's World Cup final
4.00pm Student World Cup final

The Festival of the World Cups will take place between 3 and 14 July in a range of venues.

The armed forces festival will be staged at Colchester Garrison, and the Finals of the Women’s, Police and Student festivals will be at Headingley Carnegie Stadium July 14th.

The Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup Festival will be staged at Medway Park in Gillingham, Kent.

For more information on the Festival of World Cups visit

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

Forthcoming roadworks schemes in Leeds

The following listed roadworks schemes are to be carried out in Leeds in the next few weeks:

A653 Dewsbury Road, Hunslet
Limits: A6110 Ring Road Beeston – Old Lane
Start/Completion: Sundays only – 7/14/21 July 2013
Road Closure/Works: Sundays only 07:30 – 17:30

A61 Hunslet Distributor Road Roundabout
Limits: A61 Hunslet Distributor Roundabout
Start/Completion: Monday 8 July 2013 – Monday 15 July 2013 (Not including weekends)
Road Closure/Works: Monday – Friday 19:00 – 05:30 (NIGHTS)

A63 Selby Road, Swillington
Limits: Swillington Lane – M1 Roundabout (Westbound only)
Start/Completion: Monday 15 July 2013 – Friday 19 July 2013
Road Closure/Works: Monday – Friday 19:00 – 05:30 (NIGHTS)

A6120 Selby Road, Swillington
Limits: Century Way – M1 Roundabout
Start/Completion: Monday 29 July 2013 – Wednesday 31 2013
Road Closure/Works: Monday – Wednesday 21:00 – 05:30 (NIGHTS)

A64 York Road, Burmantofts – Foundry Lane Roundabout
Limits: A64 York Road, Burmantofts – Foundry Lane Roundabout
Start/Completion: Monday 29 July 2013 – Tuesday 6 August 2013 (Not including weekends)
Road Closure/Works: Monday – Friday 19:00 – 05:30 (NIGHTS)

All the works are necessary to replace the existing carriageway surfaces and all will include diversion routes which will be signposted.

For any queries or to request further information on any of these schemes please email


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

City ambassadors wanted for Leeds

Volunteers with a keen interest in Leeds are being called upon to help make events in the city a success.

Leeds City Council and its partners are looking for volunteers to help out at a number of events in the city over the next couple of years.

The first two events are to help with are the opening of the new first direct arena each between 4.30 and 7.30pm on 24 July and 4 September.

The volunteers would be needed to help make visitors to the city centre feel welcome and get to the events on time.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said:
“We need people who can really add something to these events and help make them extra special for our visitors. They will be a vital part of something important, and get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve been part of fantastic team. We would encourage everyone to express their interest and be part of something big.”

The volunteers will receive full training to make sure they are fully briefed, trained and kitted out with tools for the job.

The volunteering team will be recruited over the next couple of weeks, and the training and induction event will be on Thursday 18 July 4-6pm

Further Leeds City Ambassador events will be announced during the coming year – sign up here and get advance warning of these.

People who are interested in volunteering as a City Ambassador can register their interest through the Leeds City Council website.

Expressions of interest forms should be returned to


Link to the webpage can be found here: Click on the 'downloads' tab for the expression of interest form.

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