Monday, 9 September 2013

Multi million pound partnership secures superfast broadband for West Yorkshire

Issued on behalf of the Leeds City Region:

Today a new £21.96 million contract between four West Yorkshire local authorities and BT has been agreed to transform broadband speeds across West Yorshire by the end of Autumn 2015.
The new project, “Superfast West Yorkshire” plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire. As well as providing high speed fibre, the partnership aims to upgrade 100 per cent of premises in this area to speeds of more than 2Mbps.

Superfast West Yorkshire builds on BT’s commercial investment of £2.5 billion to roll fibre broadband out to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014. Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council will work with BT to bring fibre broadband to premises in West Yorkshire which are not currently included in commercial roll-out plans and could otherwise have missed out on this opportunity.

Together with Kirklees Council, a demand stimulation and business support programme will be developed to demonstrate the benefits of high speed internet to residents and businesses. This part of the project has already registered demand from over 780 businesses and residents across West Yorkshire through the website
BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. BT is contributing £12.58 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas, with the four local authorities contributing £970,000. Alongside this partnership, the project has received £4.62 million of funding from BDUK and the remaining £3.79 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) .2

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said: “This £21.96 million project will deliver an incredible transformation in broadband speeds for thousands of homes and businesses in West Yorkshire. It will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95% of all UK premises by 2017.”

Fibre broadband will be of particular benefit to local businesses which can use the high speed technology to improve their competitiveness both nationally and internationally. This investment in infrastructure will enable a level playing field for small businesses to compete with multinationals on new business opportunities and aims to create and protect local jobs by attracting inward investment. Fast upload speeds will mean businesses can enable their employees to enjoy the flexibility of working from home to reduce office costs and encourage a good work-life balance.

The project will also be of significant value to local residents who will have improved use of daily online activities like shopping, banking and catching up on their favourite TV programmes.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities (AWYA), said: “This is an important day for West Yorkshire as we take a vital step forward in the digital age. Fast and reliable internet is becoming crucial to daily life and for residents in West Yorkshire, it will provide an equal opportunity to access essential online activities such as council services, healthcare and other public services as well as offering new leisure and educational opportunities.

“I believe it will help us strengthen our economy by giving small businesses a means to develop their potential and achieve their ambitions as well as encouraging new start-ups and job creation.

“This pioneering project will be of real benefit to many residents and businesses in West Yorkshire and we are continuing to work hard to bring the whole of West Yorkshire up to speed.”

“I encourage all businesses and residents in the region to take full advantage of this exciting opportunity and put West Yorkshire on the superfast map.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation Access, said: “This project is vital to the future economic strength of all the local authority areas involved in this project. It will go beyond BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband and take faster broadband to areas which are technically and economically more challenging.”

“An enhanced digital infrastructure in West Yorkshire will help consolidate the area’s reputation for technology, innovation and enterprise and make this large part of the Leeds City Region a more attractive proposition for business re-locations and start-ups – including the creation of new, high-tech jobs.”

“Broadband is completely changing the way we use the internet at home with existing and new services being increasingly delivered on-line. These services, whether for entertainment or education, are becoming more sophisticated and content-rich and depend upon fast reliable higher speed broadband.”

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis so consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market as this was an important stipulation to the tender process. Currently more than 80 service providers across the UK are trialling or offering fibre broadband over BT’s network.

Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) will be the main technology deployed which delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. 3

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP-on-demand offers the top current download speed of up to 330Mbps.4
Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports exciting new developments in internet services.

Superfast West Yorkshire will be announcing the installation schedule in the coming months and communities across West Yorkshire can look forward to improved access to online services and better connectivity for businesses from 2014 onwards.

1The area of West Yorkshire covered by this project can be found in the map at the top of this page.
2The Superfast West Yorkshire project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit
3These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
4Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product.

Notes to editors:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit

About AWYA
• The AWYA is an association of the five West Yorkshire metropolitan local authorities – Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. It was established in 1993 to provide a forum for the discussion and co-ordination of matters of mutual concern and interest.
• The AWYA acts as the local government voice of West Yorkshire, promoting and lobbying for its interests and identity. It provides a means for the five Councils to reach joint views on proposed legislation and other matters of concern to West Yorkshire, and to express these views to organisations such as Local Government Yorkshire and the Humber (LGYH), central government and other appropriate bodies.

About BT

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit
About BDUK

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information:
For press/media enquiries please contact: Tel: 07891 278049
Senior Communications Officer, Leeds City Region Partnership
Amy Walker, BT Regional Press Office on 07918900209

Leeds music centres start a lifetime of music for two Leeds brothers

Picture caption (Top) Carl Banks and (bottom) Mark Banks practicing their skills first learnt at South Leeds Music Centre"

Two brothers from Beeston are encouraging people across Leeds to start a life-long love of making music by enrolling in one of Leeds’ eight music centres, this weekend.

Carl and Mark Banks, who have notched up 70 years of music making between them, have South Leeds Music Centre to thank for starting them off on their musical journey 35 years ago. The centre, which this year celebrates its 40th birthday is one of eight centres provided by Leeds City Council’s music and arts service Artforms.

Enrolment has now begun at Leeds music centres, which provide tuition in a wide variety of instruments, as well as the opportunity to join bands, classes and singing groups. There is something for everyone and all ages. In a relaxed setting, students can learn an instrument, play in a band or an orchestra, or sing. Concessions are available for people on low incomes.

The Banks brothers joined South Leeds Music Centre over 35 years ago – and went on to enjoy a life-time of playing their instruments.

Carl joined when he was 12, he said:“A young person may be having half an hour music lesson at school, but if they don’t have an instrument at home, a music centre is the best place to go.

“It’s local, you can play anything, whatever kind of music you’re interested in is respected, you always feel included, it’s not at all cliquey. Private lessons can be too dear, plus you don’t get the chance to play with other people.”

At the Music Centre he was able to take up keyboard and drums, and was one of the youngest players in the Concert Band.

“Playing with more accomplished players, getting used to performing, having encouraging teachers – these helped me gain confidence and improve.”

So much so that Carl went on to the College of Music and then studied music at university. He has since played in many bands, written and produced his own music, been on radio many times, played at festivals and recorded albums. He continued:

“Music is a universal language – I went to live in Poland, and the first thing I did was look for a band to join. You meet like-minded people, make friends, you’re accepted.”

Mark started with the trumpet when he was small – his dad used to play, and when his dad put it down, Mark picked it up and had a go. Mark explains:“Through the Music Centre we had the opportunity to perform concerts at many different venues including going on trips abroad to Germany and the Isle of Man, which was an opportunity to show off what you had been learning. Back then it was really the only chance you had of playing live music. There is no better feeling you get when you perform and make people laugh, smile and clap. This is why I still want to keep playing and performing today!”

Mark also went on to study music and work professionally and semi-professionally - in the last 35 years he has only had 18 months off playing, touring and recording, all this whilst raising a family as well as maintaining a normal working life.
“Now I’m teaching drums as I want to give back some of what I have learned over the years.

“Playing alone at home is sometimes not enough. You have to play with other people to really progress.

“Music is a special thing – if you’ve got an interest, you need good teaching and support and it will give you a life-time of pleasure.”

Mark and Carl’s dad, David, has played the trumpet and piano throughout his life, and now, 75 years young, he has taken up the bass guitar and has performed with a jazz band at Bridlington Spa. David said:

“You might enjoy kicking a football in the street, but it really takes off when you join a club. That’s what music centres do for you.

“I first got interested when I saw my grandma’s piano when we lived in Harehills. It was an old upright, in her front room – no one was allowed to touch it, I was told off for lifting the lid and having a go.

“Children don’t know they have talent till they try, they need to experience playing and support from their family.

“When my aunty took me to see the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall aged 11, I was so amazed at the huge sound and all the instruments, it changed me, I wanted to learn more about them.”

“Mark told me recently: ‘I can’t do without music. I’ll never stop playing.’”

For full information about all the classes, times and locations for each music centre please visit or contact Artforms on 0113 2475499 or email
For information on Mark’s drum tuition programme please visit:

For media enquiries please contact:
Frances Bernstein
Music Centre Coordinator
07759 563 848

Mencap exhibition set to open at Leeds City Museum

A new exhibition is to open this week at Leeds City Museum, as part of learning disability charity Leeds Mencap’s 60th birthday celebrations.

Focusing on the ‘history of learning disabilities in Leeds’, a wide-range of areas will be examined, including changes in definitions, community care, institutions, stereotypes, and perceptions.

Working alongside students from the University of Huddersfield, the exhibition, which is co-ordinated by local charity Leeds Mencap, will be influenced in both its feel and content by people with learning disabilities currently living in the city.

As part of the display, which will run from September 10 to September 22, a collection of personal stories including interviews, photographs, audio-visual material, historical documents and artefacts will be available for visitors to view and listen to.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

"Leeds Mencap have done a fantastic job over the past 60 years supporting disabled people, and I am looking forward to this interesting exhibition at Leeds City Museum which will examine the history of learning disabilities in our city.

"The design and content of the display has been led by people with a learning disability, and this input will provide a telling insight into both the progress and challenges they have experienced over the years."

Ruth Fawcett, Leeds Mencap said:

"Leeds as a city has developed hugely throughout the years in how we respond to people with learning disabilities and this exhibition is the perfect way to celebrate this – along with the charity’s 60th birthday!"

Notes to editors:

For more information on Leeds Mencap please visit
or contact;
Ruth Fawcett, Head of Fundraising & PR, Leeds Mencap (0113) 2351331

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Leeds to host joint scrutiny committee meeting

Representatives from 15 local authorities across the region will meet in Leeds this week (September 13) for talks on the latest proposals for a national review of services for children and adults suffering from congenital heart disease (CHD).

Previously, the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) for Yorkshire and the Humber highlighted a number of concerns about the outcome of the original Safe and Sustainable Review of Children’s Congenital Cardiac Services in England.

The review would have seen the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Leeds General Infirmary closed –meaning patients would have had to travel to Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham for treatment.

But an examination of the proposals by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) supported many of the concerns raised by the JHOSC, and led to the Secretary of State for Health halting the Safe and Sustainable Review and ordering a new, independent review of services for children and adults.

At this week’s meeting at Leeds Civic Hall, members of the JHOSC will formally consider the IRP’s report and recommendations, which highlighted flaws in the original review process.

NHS England has been charged with taking forward a new review and Friday’s meeting will also see key figures from the organisation in attendance.

John Holden, NHS England’s Director of System Policy will outline initial thoughts on how the new review will be carried out.

JHOSC members will also consider an update on the on-going review of service quality at the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit. In June, services on the unit were controversially suspended ahead of a rapid-review of quality.

Services were subsequently re-opened, while the second phase of the review continued.

Andy Buck, Director of NHS England’s West Yorkshire area team, will provide an update on progress and any emerging findings.

Cllr John Illingworth chairs the JHOSC and wrote to representatives of NHS England requesting they attend this week.

Cllr Illingworth said: “I look forward to welcoming members of the JHOSC as well as representatives from NHS England to this week’s meeting in Leeds.

“Leeds City Council was pleased that the IRP recognised a number of flaws in the original review process, which were highlighted by the JHOSC, and that the Secretary of State for Health then opted to formally halt the Safe and Sustainable Review.

“It is vital that the new review is now carried out fairly and transparently to avoid history repeating itself and to ensure children and families in Leeds and across the region receive the best possible care.”

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Yorkshire and the Humber represents the 15 top-tier authorities and 5.2 million residents from across the region.

It was formed to be the statutory overview and scrutiny body for the region in relation to any proposed changes arising from the Review of Children’s Congenital Cardiac Services in England.

This week’s meeting of the JHOSC will take place at Leeds Civic Hall on September 13 at 10.30am.

For more details about the JHOSC, visit


For further information, contact:
Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937

New legislation signals an end to holidays in term time

In a push to improve pupil attendance levels across the country, new government legislation from 1 September 2013 means that headteachers will no longer be able authorise any requests for children to be taken out of school to go on holiday during term time.

Previously, schools were able to authorise up to 10 days of leave from school. However, the new law states that requests for leave can only be granted in exceptional circumstances, and family holidays do not fall into this category. Any requests for leave must also be made to the school in advance, as the Department for Education (DfE) has told schools that they cannot authorise any absences after they have been taken.

Nationally, five million school days* were missed in the academic year 2011/ 2012 because of family holidays in term time, which is 10.1 per cent* of overall absence in schools. This has prompted the government to make this important change to legislation.

From September 2013, parents who take their children out of school could face a fine for each period of unauthorised absence.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services in Leeds said:
“Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school, and we have always encouraged parents to think twice before booking holidays during term time.

"Until now, headteachers have had the discretion to authorise up to ten days absence during term time for holidays. However, due to new government legislation, this is no longer the case, and parents may receive a fine if they take their children out of school without having gained prior authorisation to do so.

“Whilst being sympathetic to parents, the importance of good attendance at school cannot be underestimated. Regular attendance is vital in helping children and young people to achieve their full potential and get the best possible start in life.

“Schools have to comply with this new legislation and we will work closely with them to ensure that this change to the law has a positive impact on pupil attendance rates in Leeds.”

For a penalty notice to be requested, a child must have been absent from school for five days in the same term or period of 12 weeks. If a penalty notice is issued, it will cover the whole period of the absence. So the fine would be the same amount for an absence of five days or 10 days. For example, a parent could be issued with a £60 fine for a child missing one day of school every week over a five week period, whilst another parent might be issued the same fine for a two week block of absence.

As well as losing the discretionary 10-day period, parents that are fined will also have less time to pay. From September 2013 the fines will be £60 per child per parent if paid within 21 days, and £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days. If the fine is not paid, parents will be reported for prosecution.

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