Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sign-up begins ahead of free sport and fitness scheme in Leeds

Caption: The new Leeds Let's Get Active scheme is now open for pre-registration

Leeds residents interested in taking advantage of free daily sport and fitness sessions can now sign up to take part.

The pre-registration phase for Leeds City Council’s new sport and health pilot ‘Leeds Let’s Get Active’ has now started for anyone keen to take part in free sessions at every council-managed leisure centre in the city as well as activities held in community venues such as Bramley Baths and parks.

Running from now until the scheme officially begins on Monday 30 September, those interested can find out more details and pre-register at

While open to all, the sessions are aimed in particular at encouraging those who currently do little or no regular sport or physical exercise in order to address health problems and inequalities in the city.

The scheme is to run for 18 months until March 2015 and is being funded through a total of £1million match-funding by Leeds public health and Sport England through the National Lottery, plus an additional £60,000 from Leeds City Council’s public health budget.

The Leeds Let’s Get Active scheme will see one off-peak hour each day made available at every Leeds City Council-managed leisure centre in the city for free gym and swimming sessions.

In addition to the core one-hour session, an additional hour each day will also be available at the John Charles Centre for Sport as well as Armley and Fearnville leisure centres, while at Middleton Leisure Centre a total of two hours of free activities including exercise classes and racket sports will be on offer.

The pre-registration has now begun, reinforced by a roadshow which will be touring one-stop shops and other venues in the city over the next month encouraging people to sign up. Pre-registration can also be completed at council-managed libraries which all offer free internet access.

Running alongside the free offer in leisure centres, community sport sessions such as running, walking and family-orientated activities will take place mainly in parks. Research will also be taking place with GP practices and public health service providers about how the project can support those referred to physical activity schemes.

The project will strengthen ties between sport and health services, with links to health checks and advice on healthy lifestyles being offered. It also aims to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the city, increasing participation in regular exercise and cutting the cost of physical inactivity which is estimated by Sport England to cost Leeds as a city £10.4m every year.

In addition, the scheme is part of the drive for Leeds to be the best and most active big city in England, and is a leading example of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games for the city.

Leeds City Council executive member for health and wellbeing Councillor Lisa Mulherin said:

“We are now just weeks away from start of Leeds Let’s Get Active and we are really excited about people of all ages and backgrounds signing up and wanting to get involved.

“This scheme offers the chance to make a real difference not only to people’s lives but also to the broader health and economic wellbeing of the whole city, so we are encouraging as many people as possible to sign up to take part.”

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

“The possibilities around this scheme are fantastic but the first thing is for people to pre-register and it would be great to start as we mean to go on with sessions packed out with people having fun and getting fit. We are calling on everyone to help spread the word and make Leeds Let’s Get Active a wonderful success.”

For more details and to pre-register for Leeds Let’s Get Active visit


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

Leeds' education leaders remind parents about new national schools absence policy

Education leaders in Leeds are reminding parents about national changes in the law regarding school term time absence.

Changes to government policy mean that schools across the UK, including those in Leeds, can no longer authorise any requests for children to be taken out of school to go on holiday during term time.

Previously, the council had supported headteachers in allowing up to ten days absence for holidays at their discretion.

But recent changes in the law nationally, which came into effect this month, mean that can no longer be the case, and the council is keen to keep parents across the city up-to-date about possible penalties.

From September 2013, parents who take their children out of school could face a fine of £60 for each period of unauthorised absence.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services in Leeds said: “These changes to schools absence policy in Leeds have come as a direct result of new legislation made by national government and we want to make sure all parents across the city are fully aware of the changes.

“Both the council and all schools must comply with this legislation and we have written to all of our headteachers to advise them of the new national guidelines.

“Until now we have always fully supported headteachers in allowing them to authorise up to ten days absence during term time for holidays at their discretion.

“However, this is no longer the case due to changes in the law nationally and parents may receive a fine of £60 if they take their children out of school without having gained prior authorisation.

“We will now work closely with them to ensure that this change to the law has a positive impact on pupil attendance rates in Leeds.

“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.

“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.”

Fore more details, contact:

Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937

Joined-up health and social care comes closer for Leeds

A more people-centred health and social care system for Leeds has come a step closer after the city was successful in the first round of bidding for Department of Health support.

More than 100 towns and cities across the UK responded to an invitation to bid for national backing to bring health and social care services closer together.

Now, Leeds is one of just a handful of cities that have been invited to develop their bid further.

Although closely related, the two services are delivered by very different kinds of organisations: the NHS and local authorities.

With front-line workers from both organisations working closer together, the people they help will benefit from better co-ordinated services and a more joined-up response to their healthcare and support needs.

At the same time, services will become more efficient and be delivered more quickly, with less duplication.

The next step is to set out detailed plans for meeting the challenge of making integrated care, designed around the needs of patients and service users, a reality by 2018.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board said: “In reaching this next stage of the Pioneer process, Leeds has been nationally recognised for its innovative approach to joining together the city’s health and care services. We are keen to build on the great work already done to move more quickly toward our ultimate goal, which is services truly integrated around the needs of people, not organisations.”

Examples of best practice that already exist in Leeds include:

• Integrated teams of community nursing and social care staff working together under the same roof, to ensure patients and service users receive more joined-up responses to their care and support needs.
• Early Start teams, which bring together local children’s centres and health visiting services.
• Development of an electronic record-sharing system that will give health and care workers secure and confidential access to both NHS and Social Care patient and service user files.
• The South Leeds Independence Centre, staffed by nursing and social care staff, which helps people regain the confidence to live independently following a spell in hospital.

Dr Andy Harris, Chair of the Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group added: “We will now enter a period of intense working with our many partners in the health and social care communities to come up with more detailed proposals, which have to be ready in September. The Leeds approach to health and social care, with the city wanting to go further and faster, has been developed collaboratively and I am confident that our approach is the right one. I believe this is why we have been invited to proceed to round two and collaboration will continue to be our theme.”


For more details, contact:

Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937

Council clamp down on uncontained waste in priority areas

Following a spate of prosecutions, the council is encouraging people to use their wheeled bins to stop household rubbish spreading across street and gardens.

While the majority of residents bag and bin their rubbish, some find it acceptable to throw loose waste into their gardens or leave it lying on the street.

The council has a duty to ensure that people are storing their waste properly. Uncontained waste is easily blown across streets making communities look untidy and which the council has to clear up as litter. Rotting food waste is also a magnet for pests.

Environmental action officers patrol priority areas where litter is an issue to ensure that uncontained rubbish isn’t causing additional problems. The officers are happy to offer a friendly word of advice and can hand out legal notices to ensure people put rubbish in their bin. Fixed penalty notices can be issued if people don’t comply and can result in prosecution.

Three south Leeds women were called to appear before magistrates last month having failed to heed the council’s advice and warnings.

Leanne Gill, Claire Parle and Rozma Kauser, all from Beeston, were issued with legal notices after household rubbish, including rotting food and soiled nappies, were left in open bags in gardens or dumped on the street rather than in their black bins.

The women were fined a total of £600 and ordered to pay combined costs of £1,873.68 at Leeds magistrates court.

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

“While every person’s home is their castle, their garden or street certainly isn’t a rubbish tip.

“Litter and uncontained waste isn’t an issue that’s unique to south Leeds. We need to make sure that people across the city are doing their bit. We’d simply like to ask that all residents bag and bin their rubbish and use their wheeled bins appropriately.”

Paper, cardboard, cans, aerosols and plastic bottles should be put in green bins for recycling. Glass can be dropped off at recycling centres and points. Remaining waste should be placed in black bins.

Bins should be put out for collection by 7am on the scheduled collection day and returned to your property as soon as is practical after collection.

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


Health leaders in visits to help ease pressure on urgent care facilities

Health leaders in Leeds met with staff and patients across the city this week as part of a new drive to ease the pressure on Leeds’ urgent care facilities.

Members of Leeds’ Health and Wellbeing Board visited eight sites including St James’s Hospital A and E and Harehills Children’s Centre.

The visits came ahead of the board’s meeting next month, when members will look at ways that health and social care services can work more closely together and improve local people’s access to urgent care.

Cllr Lisa Mulherin, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “These visits were an opportunity for us all to speak to patients and staff, see the issues and problems from the front line and potential solutions within A and E and other urgent care facilities.”

Figures have shown that patients needing urgent or unplanned care account for at least 100 million NHS calls or visits every year.
Those calls represent around a third of overall NHS activity and more than half of the costs.

Leaders in Leeds hope better use of preventative services locally, such as intermediate care facilities, early social care assessment, and minor injuries units can take the strain off A and E departments.

Monday’s visits saw board members look round the sites in groups of three or four, before meeting in the city centre for a debrief session.

Members discussed what they had learned from the visits, and will now take their finding’s forward to the board’s meeting on October 2.

Cllr Mulherin added: “With ever-increasing demand on acute services, the work of the Health and Wellbeing Board in joining-up Health and Social Care and leading on the reduction of ill-health and health inequalities in Leeds is vital in rebalancing the system.”

Other sites visited by the board were Hannah House emergency short break care centre in Rothwell, the Social Work Duty team at White Rose House in Otley, the Age UK Making the Link Service, the Acute Medicine Clinical Service Unit at St James’s, Leeds Mind’s Inkwell Centre and the Adult Acute Inpatient Service at the Becklin Centre.

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