Friday, 19 July 2013

New outstanding children’s homes get the nod

Senior councillors in Leeds have agreed to replace two outdated children’s homes with three smaller homes, which will better meet the needs of children in care.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board earlier this week, members agreed proposals to close Inglewood Home in Otley and Wood Lane in Headingley, and invest the money generated from selling these properties into developing more suitable children’s residential care.

The two homes would be replaced by the opening of three new smaller homes in Leeds which would be located in areas where they can better blend with the communities in which they would be located.

In order to reflect the changing needs of children who are looked after by the council and to develop and enhance the provision, a review of residential care for children and young people has been completed. The review involved consultation with children living in children’s homes, care leavers, families, social workers, other professionals and partner agencies.

As a result of the review and changes in the age and profile of looked after children a strategy has been developed to create outstanding children’s homes. These would be small homes, situated in local communities, child-centred and outcome-focused, appropriately resourced and in good condition. The strategy intends to extend the quality, flexibility and range of children’s homes in Leeds, including the development of homes providing specialist care, to improve the outcomes for the children placed there and to reduce the dependence on expensive external placements.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“A key priority for us as a child friendly city is to ensure that children can be brought up safely with their birth parents or within their wider extended family network if at all possible. Where this is not possible then it is our responsibility to ensure we have an appropriate range of placements to meet the needs of children and young people in our care.

“By creating these new residential homes we can ensure more young people will be able to stay in Leeds and receive the outstanding care they deserve.”

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

Improved fees and allowances for foster carers and adopters

Members of Leeds City Council’s executive board have agreed a range of proposals to improve local placements for children in care.

The changes agreed include an increase in fees and allowances for foster carers, special guardians and adopters to support and enhance the vital role of carers in helping to look after children in care.

In order to address a change in the age and profile of children coming in to care over recent years the council has carried out a review in to the current provision of locally based placements – foster care, kinship care and adoption.

It has been agreed to increase the foster carer allowances to 90% of the Fostering Network recommended rates from October 2013 and to 100% from April 2014.

The newly agreed increase in fees and allowances, when combined with the corporate offer for foster carers announced earlier this year, will give Leeds a unique offer to foster carers. This combines high quality professional support, a clear fee structure and corporate recognition of the important role that foster carers play in caring for vulnerable children in the city. This will enable the council to be robust and competitive with neighbouring local authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies in recruiting and retaining foster carers.

The board also agreed proposals to support informal kinship care arrangements to help strengthen families and prevent children from entering care when they can be safely cared for within the wider family network. The board heard how research has highlighted that children who are unable to be looked after by their parents but are in the care of close relative have better outcomes than other looked after children. However, it is essential that kinship carers receive the support that they need to carry out their role. The Leeds offer has been reviewed and strengthened to increase the support to informal kinship carers.

A range of proposals to help recruit more adoptive parents and ensure that children are placed for adoption in a timely manner, was also approved at today’s meeting.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Making sure children in our care are well looked after and in the most appropriate placement for them is vitally important, which is why we are investing more in our fostering, adoption and kinship carer provision.

“These new measures demonstrate how much we value the people who care for some of the most vulnerable children in our city. By increasing the allowances for foster carers will ultimately benefit the children in their care.”

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

Council officer wins 10k in national local government challenge

A Leeds City Council officer has won a national competition for being the ‘best of the best’ in local government.

Miss Lana Fisher, who works across children’s and adult’s social care at Leeds City Council won the Local Government Association Challenge 2013 to claim the £10,000 Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship.

Lana took on nine other local government workers from across the UK as they battled it out to complete challenges included examining how to deliver high quality services during a period of significant change in Bournemouth, creating a joint management structure for a fictional county with four districts and four different council leaders and identifying ways in which London Fire Brigade and partners could further reduce accidental dwelling fires.

The final of the competition required the last three participants to hold a stall at the Local Government Conference in Manchester on the 2-4 of July to try and win delegates over to their cause. Along with this, the contestants also had to create a 10-minute presentation detailing how the local government sector would benefit as well as them personally and their council if they were awarded the £10,000 prize provided by the Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship.

She won over voting delegates and judges with her vision for local authorities to link corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the specific needs of local communities through building local networks and engaging with businesses, sharing a business case focusing on CSR as an investment rather than a gift or philanthropic gesture and developing a bank of business cases of localised CSR in the UK, USA and Europe.

Lana will use her prize money to attend a CSR course at Harvard Business School and the CSR Communication Conference in Denmark this September and to pilot the toolkit in Leeds next year.

Lana said: “The LG Challenge certainly lived up to its name and was really personally challenging, but I enjoyed every minute. I’ve learnt so much and had the chance to work with some fantastic people. I’m really grateful to Leeds City Council for being incredibly supportive of me every step of the way. Winning this scholarship will mean I can really push myself and my idea even further and I can’t wait to see where I can take it.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council said:

“We are very proud of Lana’s achievements. We have supported her through her various tasks and are thrilled that she has won this prestigious award.

“We look forward to seeing her prize winning ideas in action over the future months.”

Miss Fisher was awarded her prize at the LGA Conference by the Secretary of Health, the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP.

Notes to editors:
The LG Challenge is a nationwide competition which attempts to search for the best Local Government workers in the UK.

The Next Local Government Challenge will start in January 2014, with competitors already sizing up for the challenge. Entries are free for any Council Member whose employer is a part of the Local Government Association.

For further information on the LG Challenge visit

The competition was open to local government staff across England and Wales and a panel of judges selected the 10 most promising hopefuls from a number of different applications. It featured two rounds:

• Round One comprised the five monthly challenges, hosted by Bournemouth Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Breckland Council, London Fire Brigade and Northampton Borough Council.
• Round Two saw the three finalists going head-to-head at the LGA annual conference. Each contestant had a stand in the conference exhibition, where they had the opportunity to promote their ideas before facing a final judging panel.

The final judging panel comprised of Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive of the LGA; Dermott Joyce, Chief Executive of challenge sponsors Liberata CapacityGrid; Mike Burton, Editor of 'the MJ'; Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council; and Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council

The Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship is part of the Bruce-Lockhart Leadership Programme which was established in memory of former Kent County Council Leader and LGA Chairman Lord Bruce-Lockhart. The programme aims to develop the next generation of council leaders and chief executives by finding international best practice which can be applied locally.

For media enquiries contact Tom Clement
Leeds City Council Press Office
0113 3950244

Tonnes of furniture recycled in Leeds

Caption: Cllr Mark Dobson helping load the recycled furniture onto one of the vans.


Over a tonne of discarded furniture has been saved from landfill in Leeds to help the homeless and vulnerable.

Leeds City Council, West North West Homes Leeds and repairs contractor Morrison have worked with a network of charitable organisations to make sure any good quality furniture left behind by council tenants when they move out is never discarded.

The re-use network safety checks and stores the furniture until it can be collected by Leeds based charities that help the homeless and vulnerable, by selling decent, affordable second hand furniture in shops across the city.

The charities currently involved with the re-use network include St Jude’s, Emmaus and SLATE. It is not just tenants leaving furniture behind that means charities can recycle items. Any items that are in good condition, that people do not want any more can be most often collected or donated at shops across Leeds to help these charities.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for the environment said:

“While many tenants leave their property clear and clean as they should do, from time to time we find perfectly good furniture that has been left behind.

“It would seem crazy to just throw these things away when charities can directly benefit and we’re keeping items out of landfill.

“So far we have collected many pieces of furniture through this scheme, including TVs, sofas and chairs.”

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

Yorkshire in Bloom judges visit Leeds

Judges from Yorkshire in Bloom have visited Leeds to cast their expert eyes over the tremendous green spaces, squares and gardens that reside in the city.

As part of the visit, the judges, who were greeted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Tom Murray, were treated to a tour of a number of well-known and popular locations both in the city centre, and in outer area communities.

Included in the city centre viewing, was a trip to see the floral features at Leeds General Infirmary and a small communal garden at St George’s Crypt, which managed by the users, provides the perfect place for reflection and peace.

The delightful and relaxing features of Merrion Street Gardens and St John Church were also taken in by the touring party, who also stopped to see the fantastic colour and spectacle of Victoria Quarter and experience the tranquil surroundings of Victoria Quays and Centenary Bridge.

Next for the judges was a trip to see the fantastic work undertaken in outer area communities and specifically by the In Bloom groups from Woodlesford, Garforth and Barwick. A drive through Scholes village was also undertaken, along with a visit to the designated Leeds Nature Area, Hawthorne Farm.

The day’s judging was wrapped up with a trip to Roundhay Park estate, home to a number of Chelsea Flower Show gardens, two of which were awarded gold medals in the large show garden category.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“We were delighted to welcome the judges from Yorkshire in Bloom and have the opportunity to showcase the tremendous hard work which is being undertaken across our city to provide high quality green spaces, squares and gardens.

“There was certainly a lot for the touring party to see, and hope they were as impressed as we were at what was on offer, which I personally thought was fantastic.

“None of the work undertaken across the city would be possible of course without the efforts of a range of people from the council’s parks and countryside service along with friends of groups, In Bloom groups and community groups. I would personally like to thank them all for their tremendous energy and dedication.”

Notes to editors:

The city centre route included; Civic Hall, Leeds General Infirmary, St George’s Crypt, Park Square, Dortmund Square, St Johns Shopping Centre Garden, Merrion Street Gardens, Headrow, Briggate, Victoria Quarter, Victoria Quays and Centenary Bridge.

Visited in the city wide route were; Woodlesford Sattion, The Maltings, Thorp Park, Old George Roundabout, Gaping Goose, Garforth, Barwick, Scholes, Whinmoor Cemetery, Hawthorne Farm and Roundhay Park

The Feed Leeds partnership aims to promote and support community food growing projects across the city.

Results from the inspections by the Yorkshire in Bloom judges across the region, will be revealed at an awards ceremony on the 17th of September at York Racecourse.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578