Thursday, 5 December 2013

Statement from Leeds City Council Leader re the death of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela pictured at the opening of Millennium Square in Leeds in 2001


Statement re the death of Nelson Mandela

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela. He was an extraordinary man, a global symbol of both freedom and the power of democracy. His patience, fortitude and willingness to forgive in the face of unimaginably testing adversity made him a true statesman.

“His selfless willingness to put the needs of his beloved South Africa and its people before his own, along with that incredible capacity for forgiveness, leave a legacy that will live on long after his death and provides great inspiration to me personally.

“Leeds people also hold him dearly in their hearts along with the city’s special connections to him. It was a truly momentous occasion and an enormous honour for Leeds when he opened Millennium Square and was greeted by crowds of thousands.

“In some small return we awarded the highest honour we could in making him an honorary freeman of Leeds as part of the celebrations marking the seventh anniversary of his achievements as a pivotal figure in bringing about the end of apartheid.

“The anti-apartheid movement in Leeds had a very strong presence, from restricting the sale of South African products in the city to influencing the naming of Mandela Gardens. This support was further reaffirmed by the successful partnership with Durban, which came about following Leeds’ support of Mandela and his values.

“Leeds as a city is extremely proud of its associations with him and the Chapeltown community is privileged to host the Mandela Centre, a permanent reminder of one of the greatest leaders and inspirations of the twentieth and indeed the twenty-first century. Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest international icons ever, yet also a very humble human that we can learn a great deal from. He will be sorely missed.”

Notes to editors:

In April 2001, Nelson Mandela made an historic visit to the North of England. He officially opened Leeds’ Millennium Square and visited the Mandela Gardens within the square.

A new, refurbished version of the gardens, along with a water feature, under the name From Freedom to the Future, were entered into the Chelsea Flower Show in 2004 in honour of 10 years of democracy in South Africa and Nelson Mandela himself. From Freedom to the Future (also known by its Zulu translation Sisuka enkululekweni siphikelele phambili) gained a Bronze award and was installed in Millennium Square when it returned to Leeds.

Links between Leeds and Durban have been established since the two became partner cities in 1998, agreeing to support each other culturally, economically and socially.

Former South African president and anti-apartheid champion Nelson Mandela received the Freedom of the City of Leeds when he opened the council’s award-winning Millennium Square

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office, 0113- 224 3335


Statement from leader of Leeds City Council following day of high winds in Leeds

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“Staff from across Leeds City Council along with our partners have been hard at work throughout the day in an effort to minimise the disruption the high winds caused to residents.

“Some travel restrictions and road closures have had to remain in place for most of the day, which may make the journey home longer than usual for many, but we are confident that it will be back to business as usual tomorrow.

“Inevitably the wind has meant it has been a challenging day for everyone, but fortunately by taking swift action and the proper precautions, we have weathered the storm well. I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping to keep the city safe today.”


Background information:

- Roads around Bridgewater Place including Water Lane, Victoria Road and Neville Street closed to all through traffic from 06.30am today (Thursday). Access to car parking for business was enabled. The area was reopened by 4pm. Diversions for high-sided vehicles were expected to remain until Friday morning.

- Officers from Leeds City Council’s Building Control and Emergency Planning departments along with the fire service attended Bramley Shopping Centre, where a number of panels were coming off the roof. After a full inspection, it was not necessary for any residents to be evacuated.

- The Forestry Service received more than 100 incident notifications during the day.

- Building Control officers attended the Leeds Grand Mosque on Woodsley Road to help prevent damage to the building’s roof.

- Council officers gave a helping hand to a number of people crossing Water Lane this morning.

For more details, contact:

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

Council concerned that energy efficiency changes could put vulnerable at risk

Council leaders are concerned that changes to national energy efficiency schemes could put vulnerable people at risk.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) currently places an obligation on energy companies to install energy efficiency improvements in low-income households and areas, and in properties that are harder to treat up until March 2015.

The council-run Wrap Up Leeds ECO scheme works with three partners to offer free boiler upgrades and insulation to some of the city’s most vulnerable households and helps people right across the city to heat their homes for less. Both of these offers rely on ECO funding.

Proposed changes to ECO have been announced today as part of the Autumn Statement.

Subject to consultation, utility companies could have more time to meet lower targets and the target for insulating solid walls has dropped to just 25,000 homes each year.

This means that people in older, solid walled homes - like the 70,000 Victorian homes in Leeds - could get smaller grants through ECO over the next three years.

However, it was also announced that there will be additional grants for privately rented homes, homebuyers and incentives for insulating lofts and cavity walls and for new district heating systems.

The council will be working closely with its partners to encourage people who are eligible to apply for the new grants and incentives.

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

“Everyone is agreed that we need to reduce fuel bills; people are paying too much to keep warm. However, the issue isn’t just the cost of fuel but how appallingly inefficient many homes in the UK are.

“We’re concerned that any delays caused by a consultation will bring more uncertainty and put more projects, and ultimately people, at risk.

“Investing in the energy efficiency of our homes is the only way to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable people from volatile energy markets.

“ECO is designed to do exactly that and that’s why we’ve been at the forefront of rolling it out. Since March this year, we have helped over 800 households to install major energy efficiency improvements, saving them almost £250,000 and cutting emissions by 1,500 tonnes of CO2 annually.

“With lower targets and longer timescales, fewer people will receive help. We’re concerned that vulnerable people could be left without help over the coldest months when they can ill afford it. The timing is particularly poor, creating uncertainty and delay when people need improvements to their homes the most.

“Harnessing ECO with our partners has brought benefits that go far wider than improving people’s bank balances and the environment; it is an important social tool that improves people’s health and helps reduce the burden on health services.

“We remain committed to cutting bills and emissions and helping people out of fuel poverty – there are too many financial, social and health benefits not to.”

People can apply for boiler upgrades and insulation through Wrap Up Leeds ECO now by calling 0113 3950757 or

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


Former winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition, Kathryn Stott, to perform in city

Former prize-winner of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition, Kathryn Stott, will perform this Saturday at Leeds Town Hall as part of the Leeds International Concert Season and Opera North’s Festival of Britten.

One of the UK’s most well-loved pianists, Kathryn will perform Britten’s only Piano Concerto on December 7, which he premiered himself in 1938. Under the baton of Opera North’s Musical Director, Richard Farnes, Leeds’ very own Orchestra of Opera North will also perform Elgar’s passionate Symphony No 2, which the composer dedicated to the late King Edward VII.

This concert is part of Opera North’s Festival of Britten which celebrates the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth and is supported by Britten 100 and the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Tickets are priced £12.50 - £31.50 and are available from the Box Office on 0113 224 3801 or online at 50% discounts are available for students, under 18s and jobseekers, with tickets also being available to purchase for people under the age of 26 at £5 if bought seven days before the concert.

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

"The Leeds International Piano Competition is an event that continues to capture the imagination, and it is fantastic that we are able to welcome back one of our former winners Kathryn Stott, who will be performing at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday.

"This promises to be a brilliant night, and as always, given how popular similar concerts have proved to be in the past, we would ask anyone wishing to attend to buy their tickets as soon as possible."

Notes to editors:

Kathryn Stott is internationally recognised as one of Britain’s most versatile and imaginative musicians. After studying at the Yeheudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music, she was a prize winner at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1978 and has since been made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music.

Conductor, Richard Farnes, is one of the most sought after conductors of his generation. He read Music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar, and went on to study at the National Opera Studio, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music. In 2004 he was appointed Musical Director of Opera North.

For further information please contact:

Alison Stockwell
Music Officer
Arts Planning Team
Leeds International Concert Season

Tel. 0113 247 8336
Fax. 0113 247 8334
Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AD
Follow us @LeedsConcerts

Listings information:

Saturday 7 December, 7.30pm
Orchestra of Opera North
Richard Farnes conductor
Kathryn Stott piano
Britten Piano Concerto
Elgar Symphony No 2
Tickets: £31.50, £29, £26.50, £21, £16, £12.50 (discounts available)
Box Office: 0113 224 3801 / Book online

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

Lord Mayor pays visit to World War II aircraft the ‘City of Leeds’

Caption: (L-R) - The Lady Mayoress Edna Murray, and Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Thomas Murray inspect the Swordfish.

An iconic World War II aircraft called the ‘City of Leeds’ has been paid a special visit by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Thomas Murray.

The Swordfish plane, which components were made in the Blackburn Aircraft factory based on Roundhay Road, and built at Sherburn in Elmet, played a key role in a number of important missions during World War II.

It protected many convoys and caused significant damage during one of its raids to one of the most feared German warships, the Bismarck, which rendered its steering gear inoperable. Famed for its superb handling qualities which made it uniquely suitable for deck flying operation, the Swordfish took off for this particular mission from the HMS Ark Royal, which also has a historic tie with Leeds, having been adopted by the city in 1942.

There are now only two Swordfish aircrafts left in existence, one of which is the 'City of Leeds’, Swordfish W5856. The planes are housed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Somerset, where repairs and refurbishment of the 'City of Leeds' is currently taking place.

It is hoped that Swordfish W5856 will once again be able to take to the skies and make a special flight to its adopted home in 2014.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Thomas Murray said:

"It was lovely to be able to pay a visit to RNAS Yeovilton and see how the refurbishment on Swordfish W5856 is progressing.

"Seeing such an old and iconic aircraft at close proximity was really amazing, and we are all looking forward to seeing the refurbishment complete with the ‘City of Leeds’ back in the skies where it belongs and hopefully paying a special visit to the city next year.

"This will undoubtedly be a very emotional and moving sight, and a time to remember the crews who flew in atrocious conditions, in open cockpits protecting convoys in the Atlantic. Keeping her flying seventy years later is a living memorial to the spirit, endeavour and bravery of everyone who served."

Notes to editors:

If you were involved at any stage in the building or flying of the Swordfish, please contact the Lord Mayor’s Office at Leeds Civic Hall on the following email: The Lord Mayor would be delighted to hear of your involvement and memories.

For more information on the Fleet Air Arm Museum, please see:

For media enquiries, please contact;

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


Delights of Christmas set to arrive at Home Farm

Caption: Blue the donkey, gets in the festive spirit at Home Farm with Phoebe and Lora Jordan.

The magic of the festive season is set to arrive at a popular Leeds farm this weekend.

As part of the ‘Christmas Weekend’ at Home Farm on December 7 and 8, a wide- range of fun activities will be available for visitors to enjoy. On offer will include wreath making, elves eye weaving, willow magic wands, Christmas crowns and colouring and badge making.

Santa Claus will also be taking a break from his very busy schedule to meet children at Home Farm, in what promises to be two days not to be missed.

Boasting over 400 sheep, poultry goats and pigs, along with an interesting mixture of recreated workshops and exhibitions, Home Farm continues to be a great place for the all the family to enjoy.

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

"With Christmas just around the corner, this special weekend at Home Farm promises to be a great way in which to kick-off the festive season in style.

"A range of fun activities will be available, including wreath making and badge making for all the family to enjoy, and if this is not enough, Santa Claus is also set to make a special appearance at Home Farm."

Notes to editors:

Home Farm offers the opportunity to explore life on a real working farm and meet some extraordinary characters. Over 400 sheep, cattle, pigs, poultry and goats are at Temple Newsam, and there is also the chance to enjoy traditional crafts or take part in demonstrations such as butter making and blacksmithing!

Explore the cobbled yards to discover an interesting mixture of recreated workshops, exhibitions and rare breed livestock, all in the original buildings, including the historical Great Barn.

Home Farm is open 10am until 4pm (winter hours) Tuesday to Sunday inclusive. Last entry is 45 minutes before closing.

Entry into Home Farm:

Adult: £3.40, Leeds Card £2.70
Child: £2.10, Breeze card £1.70
Family £9

Please note: There will be a £1 admission charge to visit Santa Claus.

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

Minister for local growth launches new festival on Briggate

A new festival celebrating everything to do with Leeds will be launching this weekend to coincide with Small Business Saturday.

Winter WonderLeeds- Briggate Spectacular, organised by Leeds City Council, launches this Saturday 7 December and the Minister for Local Growth, Kris Hopkins MP will be opening the event.

The festival is also a key event in the first national Love Your Local Market Christmas campaign, which is designed to encourage people to use their local markets and make the most of the variety of affordable, fresh, innovative local goods on their doorstep through markets. It is also part of the celebrations to show support for small businesses, including market traders, and the key role they play as part of a city’s retail and community offer.

********Media opportunity ********
All media are invited to the opening of the Winter WonderLeeds- Briggate Spectacular which will be attended by the Department for Communities and Local Government’s minister for local growth, Kris Hopkins MP, with a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the festival at 1pm on Saturday 7 December.
********Media opportunity ********

Hosted on Briggate the event launches a 17 day festival which will open 7 days a week and will consist of a large marquee with 20 trading stalls, with a mix of around 80 traders changing daily, and an event space which will showcase the cream of Yorkshire entertainment for shoppers in the busy city centre.

On Sundays the very popular Festive Farmers and Crafts Market returns with around 50 stalls alongside the marquee, and on 16th & 17th nationally renowned Judy’s Vintage Fair takes over the marquee.

The opening day will be hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds whose visit will include a speech on small businesses and their contribution to Leeds, as well as a presentation to three small independent businesses, to showcase their success stories. Guests will also enjoy performances from a school choir and local dance troupe.

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

“The 17-day festival is a great platform for all the independent businesses taking part to showcase what they have on offer to the tens of thousands of Christmas Shoppers who visit Briggate each day during the festive period.

“The combination of both a daily market and event space will offer something to visitors at a variety of times of the day and into the early evening so as to target a range of different audiences.”

The festival is part of Leeds City Council’s Winter WonderLeeds Christmas campaign which covers a whole host of festive events across the city including a number of other Christmas markets including – the German Christkindlmarkt on Millennium Square, Made in Yorkshire’s Christmas Festival Fayre on Victoria Gardens, and Christmas in Kirkgate Market and local markets in Leeds.

For more information about the event visit

Yorkshire Bank is the business banking sponsor for the festival as well as sponsors of the Leeds event for Small Business Saturday UK on the day.

Notes to editors:

The Briggate Spectacular will be open from Friday 6 December through to 22 December

Mon to Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday – 10am – 9pm
Friday and Saturday – 10am to 7pm
Sunday 10am – 4:30pm


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