Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Leeds Children’s Mayor competition is hotting up

Picture caption: "the Leeds Children's Mayor 2012-13 Oliver Larkin with 'Mango the Meerkat' at one of his engagements during his year of office"

Ten Leeds school children who are taking their first steps into politics are now campaigning hard to win votes to become the new Leeds Children’s Mayor.

Voting is now under way in this year’s competition, which saw the most entrants ever, with 28 Leeds primary schools submitting their best manifestos.

Year 6 pupils in primary schools were invited to enter the Leeds Children’s Mayor programme, by writing a short manifesto saying how they would improve Leeds if they were the Children’s Mayor. The manifesto had to be based on one of the 12 wishes for a more child friendly Leeds, which include; travel, healthy lifestyles, safe play areas, jobs and learning.

Last year, thousands of people voted and Oliver Larking from Bardsey Primary school was elected as the 2012-13 Children's Mayor of Leeds. Oliver was able to attend many prestigious events in his role, including the Leeds Lights switch on and the CBBC Live in Leeds event, and recently he attended the Children of Courage awards.

A panel of youth councillors, members of youth parliament, child friendly Leeds junior advisors, city councillors and our current children's mayor had the hard task of shortlisting the entries down to a final 10.

The ten finalists’ manifestos have now been uploaded to the Breeze website allowing people across the city to vote for their three favourite entries. Voting is open until 5pm on Monday 4th November.

The ten finalists will be invited for tea with the Lord Mayor on 7th November where the winner will be announced, who will then accompany the Lord Mayor to the turning on of the Leeds Lights – which will just be the start of a year of exciting opportunities representing the children of Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council executive board member for children’s services said:“It is fantastic to see so many excellent ideas coming in from young people across the city about how we can make Leeds even more child friendly.

“Part of our aim to be a child friendly city is about giving young people a voice and putting their ideas into action, and the children’s mayor competition is a wonderful opportunity for young people to do just that.

“I want to encourage everyone to take a look at these impressive manifestoes and get voting!”

Voting is open to everyone – not just children.
People can cast their votes at:'s_Mayor / or by email to

Notes to editors:

The manifestos that have been shortlisted are:
School Pupil Slogan
Allerton Bywater Haydn Quayle “A Healthy Leeds is a happy Leeds”
Bramley St Peter’s Norman Tembo “Quit Littering! Start Binning!”
Calverley CE Lia Manchella “Get rid of weeds, plant the seeds!”
Harehills Maisune Rafiq “Inspire Leeds, Inspire the World”
Hill Top Abdullah Aswat “Be proud of our city Leeds!”
Robin Hood Georgia Driver “A Child Friendly Community”
Swarcliffe Primary Jack Sheridan “An app created by children for children”
Carr Manor Gracie Clarkson “Leeds Safe & Sound Together”
Rufford Park Charlotte Williams “Life Cycle of Leeds”
Horsforth Newlaithes Matthew Simms “I dream of the day where all children can laugh and play”

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

Full route of Leeds Tour de France Grand Départ announced

Captions: Top image (right to left) Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Keith Wakefield (furthest right), Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity, Gary MacGowan from Transport for London and Leader of Cambridge City Council Cllr Tim Bick (furthest left) at today's route announcement in Paris

Lower image: Pupils from Carr Manor Community School in Leeds who were guests at the event in Paris (both images courtesy of Welcome to Yorkshire)

The full detail of the route the world’s largest annual event the Tour de France will take through Leeds next summer has been announced today.

At its annual announcement event in Paris, race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) revealed the official route of the 2014 race including road-by-road details of the route the legendary cycle race will take through Leeds when the Grand Départ begins in the city on the morning of Saturday 5 July.

After completing the official signing-in ceremony in front of Leeds Town Hall, the world’s leading riders will then line up on The Headrow for the ceremonial start of the Tour de France. The initial non-racing rollout will see the peloton ride along The Headrow to Eastgate before turning left onto Regent Street and following the A61 Scott Hall Road and Harrogate Road through Moortown and Alwoodley and on to Harewood.

Turning left at Harewood, Le Tour will enter the Harewood Estate taking in the ‘Capability’ Brown-designed grounds and passing the historic Harewood House. Upon leaving the estate and turning left onto the A659, the 190-kilometre stage one officially begins, following Otley Road and Arthington Lane through Pool in Wharfedale and on to Otley.

The route then follows the A65 through Ilkley and Skipton, before turning north and heading through the Yorkshire Dales. The final element of the stage sees the route return south passing through Ripon before the finish in Harrogate.

Stage two sees the riders follow a hilly 200km test from York to Sheffield, while the final day of the Grand Départ starts in Cambridge and finishes in London.

Among those at today’s Paris announcement were pupils from Carr Manor Community School in Leeds, invited as guests of Tour organisers ASO.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“The Tour de France Grand Départ will be the biggest event hosted in Leeds and Yorkshire in living memory. You can sense the anticipation level rising by the day as people start planning where they will watch from to be able to say ‘I was there’ at this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We are immensely thrilled, excited and proud that this global event will be on our doorstep and creating a unique window for the world to see our city, county and country at its best.

“This is an unrivalled opportunity not only to raise the profile of Leeds and Yorkshire to new heights, but also to inspire people of all ages to get on bikes and create a lasting legacy that is fitting for such a sporting phenomenon. This journey has already started and I’m so pleased that a group of young people representing Leeds have been able to share today’s excitement and sample a flavour of what is yet to come.”

Director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme said:

“We are excited to take Le Tour back to Britain again. I know the Grand Départ in Yorkshire will be visually stunning and technically challenging and the third stage from the cycling city of Cambridge to the historic heart of London will provide a fitting finale.

“The British cycling fans are passionate people and I am sure they will line the routes of the three stages cheering the teams and riders all the way from Yorkshire to London, providing an unforgettable start to the 2014 Tour.”

Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said:

“It was an honour to be able to represent Yorkshire at the presentation today and to showcase our proud county. Yorkshire’s will be the greatest Grand Départ in the history of the Tour de France. We will raise the bar for all future hosts with our Cultural Festival 100 days before the race, two stunning stages and a legacy that leaves a cycling imprint on the county which lasts for generations.

“The Grand Départ will put Yorkshire on the map as a destination capable of hosting world-class events in a world-class location, providing a springboard to greater things. We are excited, we are proud and we are ready to welcome the world.”

Among the festivities to be held in Leeds in the build-up to stage one will be the traditional presentation event where all the teams and riders are presented to the public. This event will take place in the new first direct arena on the evening on Thursday 3 July.

For those keen to view the race as it journeys through Leeds, there will be spectator ‘hubs’ including family-focused activities at Scott Hall playing fields and Harewood House with other locations also being discussed.

Also announced today was that the route of stage one is to start to be permanently waymarked so cyclists and motorists can follow the stage themselves in the build-up and following the Grand Départ.

Aside from the events directly around the Grand Départ, the 100 days leading up to the event will also see a cultural festival organised by Welcome to Yorkshire supported by Arts Council England taking place celebrating the best of the arts in Leeds and the county.

Routes of the Grand Départ including interactive maps can now be seen at a new version of the official website –

Notes to editors:
It is estimated that 98 per cent of the population of Yorkshire will be within an hour of the route during its two days in the county, with the economic benefit of the opening stages expected to be in excess of £100m.

Planning for the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France is being co-ordinated by TDF HUB 2014 Ltd, a not-for-profit company set up by UK Sport, working with local authorities, Welcome to Yorkshire and other partners. It is headed by Sir Rodney Walker, the former chair of UK Sport.


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

Bond Court refurbishment works completed

Work to upgrade and refurbish Bond Court in Leeds City Centre has now been completed.

The £90,000 project funded jointly by Leeds City Council and property developers Midland House Ltd has seen a programme of works being undertaken in the area to make it a more attractive space for visitors to the city centre.

The area has been revitalised by the addition of chess boards into the new seating area, and the petanque pitch has been retained. Along with these additions, the area has been repaved in granite and six new trees have been planted.


All media are invited to a photo opportunity at 8.30am on Friday 25th October at Bond Court to see the completed scheme. Cllr Richard Lewis and Jason Stowe of Wilton Developments will be available for interviews and pictures.


It is hoped that the work is the first step of a wider refurbishment of Bond Court, which may involve an extension of the high quality granite paving throughout the whole square, to complement proposed redevelopments of nearby buildings.

The work is part of Leeds City Council’s continued drive to ensure the city centre is an attractive destination for visitors and businesses.

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

“This scheme is a good example of how to achieve improvements to the city centre in a testing economic climate through working with the private sector to bring about refurbishments.

“By using really high quality materials in this scheme, we have set the standard for the next phase of the refurbishment of the area.

“Bond Court has the potential to be a real asset for the city centre’s business district and a genuine high quality destination for businesses”

Jason Stowe, managing director of Leeds based Wilton Developments said:

“Bond Court is a very important square for the city, being only one of a few office plazas in Leeds where the buildings are not separated from the public space of the square by traffic.

“The Square has so much more to offer its occupants and people using the Square, which we feel with a little investment can be realised. It is our intention to encourage other owners and occupiers to embrace the Square rather than backing on to it. As a forward thinking investor, Midland House see the advantage of investing private monies in to publicly owned space for the benefit of all.”

Notes to Editors

Groundwork Leeds were appointed as the landscape architects and the main contractor was Landscape Engineering.


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

Benefit cheat brothers pay the price for rental scam

Two brothers from Harehills who defrauded Leeds City Council out of £23,000 in housing benefit, were sentenced yesterday (Tuesday 22 October) at Leeds Crown Court.

Amrez Hussain (34) and Parvez Hussain (36) both of Alcester Place Leeds, were both given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, as well as 200 hours unpaid work, for their joint scam in which Amrez claimed housing benefit for a property he did not live at.

The scam was uncovered when the real tenant at the property raised concerns with Leeds City Council’s benefit fraud team, who then discovered that Amrez was claiming housing benefit there, whilst living at another property. The court also heard that Parvez assisted with the fraud by acting as the landlord for the property.

Investigations by the council’s fraud team, with organisations including the DWP, local doctors and education authority, proved that Amrez did not live at the property for which he had been claiming housing benefit between 2003 and 2010.

Steve Carey, chief officer for welfare and benefits at Leeds City Council said:
“This shows how thorough investigations can help wheedle out those people who are claiming money which they are simply not entitled to.

“Fraudulently claiming benefits is taking money away from those genuinely in need.

“We will always do our best to help those who need our help, but we will not hesitate to act when people take advantage for their own gain.”

The brothers have now paid all the money back to Leeds City Council.

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

Apprenticeship hub launched to support businesses and young people

Leeds has launched its Apprenticeship HUB to offer free and impartial advice on all things apprenticeship related.

Backed by funding from Leeds City Region, the HUB will be working with small to medium sized businesses across the city and young people aged 16-24 to help match businesses with apprentices and vice versa.

The HUB launched in September 2013 and has already engaged with over 60 businesses who are looking to create new apprenticeship opportunities, and has registered 450 young people through the various workshops and events it has held. Since 2011 nearly 15,000 apprenticeships have been created in Leeds, and currently there are over 200 opportunities available in the city, ranging from kitchen assistants, business administrators to engineers.

Case study – Kirk Newsholme, accountants and business advisors

Based at Thorpe Park in Leeds, Kirk Newsholme is an accountancy firm going the extra mile to engage the local community and help young people into work. They are signed up to the apprenticeship hub to offer more apprenticeships to young people as and when they become available.

The company have spent a lot of time engaging with schools in the local community to share with young people the advantages of the apprentice route into employment as an alternative to university. The company currently have three apprentices working with them, two of which have been with the company for two years and are due to complete their AAT studies next year and one that joined the company in September, who is working in the business services team as a trainee accountant and studying for her AAT qualification.

The company believes that the right Apprentice will be focused on a chosen future and will have researched that career and the type of business that they would like to train with. The employer will be able to identify those focused, mature individuals who have the drive and enthusiasm to join a team and start learning new skills and building new relationships from day one.

Jill Wright, director at Kirk Newsholme, said:

“Our Apprentices are enthusiastic, engaged young people who are very keen to learn.

“Once they join the team they start to learn their new roles very quickly. We invest heavily in the training and development of our Apprentices, and are supported greatly by our training provider BPP. We have found that with the right people, the level of enthusiasm and engagement they bring along is fantastic and a great addition to our company, so the investment soon pays for itself.

“We have engaged with a number of our local schools to share our stories of how successful the Apprentice route into a professional qualification has been for us and our students and we are grateful to those schools and colleges who have helped us to promote this.”

Apprenticeships are becoming a progression route of choice for many young people with learning available at different levels from an intermediate level 2, up to advanced and higher level at level 3 and 4. Taking an apprenticeship route gives young people the opportunity to work for a real employer, earn a real salary and gain a real qualification whilst gaining valuable workplace skills and experience.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for leisure and skills said:

“The apprenticeship hub is a great resource for businesses and young people alike.

“In Leeds we want to dramatically increase numbers of young people accessing apprenticeship opportunities in the city and grow the number of businesses that are delivering apprenticeships as part of delivering our ambition to become a NEET (young person not in education, employment or training) free City by 2015.

“Already this year the city has taken great strides in seeking to reduce youth unemployment among 16-24 year olds, and helping those who may need additional support to make the choices that help them to progress.

“Taking an apprenticeship route gives young people the opportunity to work for a real employer, earn a real salary and gain a real qualification whilst gaining valuable workplace skills and experience.”

The hub has already delivered a range of sessions for young people interested in starting their careers this way, including -making a winning application workshop, on-line ‘your hired’ interview skills sessions and promoting opportunities and vacancies to young people across the city. The school engagement programme has supported over 289 young people with information and advice.

A number of businesses in the city have already signed up to the hub to offer apprenticeships, and also offered their advice to other businesses about the benefits of taking on an apprentice -

For more information about the HUB call 0113 2476220 or visit,


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