Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Grass roots democracy in action

Grass roots democracy was in action this week when representatives of the 32 parish and town councils gathered at Civic Hall.

The Parish and Town Council Annual Forum is a business meeting for local councils to discuss how they work with Leeds City Council to best represent residents.

The meeting reviewed the parish and town council charter and its planning and highways supplements, which set out how they aim to work together for the benefit of local people.

Other items on the agenda included updates on accessing council information online, the community infrastructure levy and neighbourhood planning agreements.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:

“This meeting is important for local councils to discuss their ideas or any concerns. It is a chance to update them on matters that directly affect them and helps to maintain a good relationship with those local councillors that form the grass roots of local democracy. Here we have a solid opportunity to encouraging networking and share best practice amongst local councils.”

The parish and town council charter was first drawn up and agreed in 2006 and it requires the forum undertakes an annual review in order to ensure that it keeps pace with developments.

The Parish and Town Council Annual Forum meeting took place on Monday 27 January at 6.30am.


For more information contact the press office on 0113 395 0244

Superfast West Yorkshire picks up the pace

Issued on behalf of Leeds City Region

Superfast West Yorkshire today announced that work has begun on the first phase of its expansion of high-speed fibre broadband, which is expected to help create jobs and boost connectivity in the region.

Thousands of homes and businesses in 14 exchange areas are included in the first phase of Superfast West Yorkshire’s multi-million pound programme.

The high-speed technology will be coming to Barwick in Elmet, Hipperholme, Illingworth, Sowerby Bridge and Arthington for the first time. There will also be a substantial investment to make fibre more widely available in Halifax, Calder Valley, Brighouse, Hemsworth, Ilkley, Otley, South Elmsall, Royston and Sandal where many people can already get the technology. Engineering work to lay the new network in these areas has begun with local homes and businesses expected to be able to order fibre broadband by the end of June.

Ian Gray, chair of the Superfast West Yorkshire project board, said: “Our research suggests there are a significant number of homes and businesses experiencing broadband speeds that are lower than expected across West Yorkshire

“This project will improve coverage, particularly across rural areas, bringing superfast broadband to many places which would not otherwise have access.

“There are many benefits for businesses and residents from video conferencing, social networking and catch-up TV to internet shopping and banking. This project will boost economic growth and bring social benefits across our rural communities.”

Residents and businesses across West Yorkshire who want to keep up to date with progress of the roll-out are encouraged to register their interest. This will enable the Superfast West Yorkshire team to send out updates on the project and identify areas of high demand. More than 3,700 businesses and residents across West Yorkshire have already registered their interest through the website www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk.

From February, a Business Support Programme will be launched by the project together with Kirklees Council. This programme will demonstrate the benefits of high speed internet with targeted support and information to help businesses turn faster broadband speeds into business growth.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Planning a project of this scale, to get the very best value for money and maximum coverage, is a phenomenal task. BT and the Superfast West Yorkshire team have worked very hard to get to this point.

“This announcement however is just a first step. A team of specialist engineers will now work to extend and build a fibre network which will bring a better quality of life for residents and provide a major economic boost by attracting more jobs and businesses to even more parts of West Yorkshire.”

Superfast West Yorkshire plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire by the end of 2015. As well as providing high speed fibre, the partnership aims to ensure all premises in this area have access to speeds of more than 2Mbps.

Superfast West Yorkshire builds on BT’s commercial investment of £2.5 billion to roll-out fibre broadband 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 the private sector’s commercial roll-out plans and would otherwise have missed out on this opportunity.

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. Additionally, the project has received £4.62 million of funding from BDUK and £3.79 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).2

Some 708,000 premises in the project area will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the world via Superfast West Yorkshire and BT’s commercial roll-out. The service will boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer a whole new range of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents. Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently and having the ability to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time.

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so consumers and businesses in West Yorkshire will benefit from a highly competitive market.

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


For further information about this news release please contact the BT Regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or Victoria Thornton, Senior Communications Officer at Leeds City Region on 07891278049.

1. A map showing the area of West Yorkshire covered by this project can be found at www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk/coverage
2. The 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 www.communities.gov.uk/erdf
3. These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
4. Openreach 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.

Council looks to young people for feedback on apprenticeships

Young people give their views on apprenticeships from Leeds City Council on Vimeo.

Caption: Young people talking about the advantage of apprenticeships

Leeds City Council is working closely with young people to understand how to better communicate about apprenticeships and the opportunity to learn while they earn.

The council is currently running a number of workshops with young people who are looking to start an apprenticeship, are already working as an apprentice for their employer or those who have completed their apprenticeship.

By speaking to young people, the council wants to better understand how young people want to get information about apprenticeships, at what age and what kind of support they want.

At an event held recently at the Connexions shop on Eastgate, a group of young people came together to discuss how and what is the best way to communicate information on apprenticeships, but also why this is a good way to start your career.

Across the city at the moment there are over 100 live apprenticeships available, from accountancy and business administration through to engineering, catering and logistics alongside plenty of other career opportunities.

In the last 12 months 6,576 young people have started an apprenticeship with the support of their employer. The council, along with its partners is providing support to young people and the businesses seeking to recruitment them. The Apprenticeship Hub supports young people to understand the wide range of opportunities available and how to access these and the Apprenticeship Training Agency works with small and medium size businesses to help them recruit and training their apprentices.

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

“A key priority for the council is getting young people into work. An apprenticeship offers a great starting point where you can earn while you learn the new skills that are required by your employer now and build the foundation for your progression. Many young people go on to complete a higher level apprenticeship, degrees and professional qualifications.

“Some of the feedback we have received from young people indicates that they would like to receive information about at an earlier stage in school so they can take more time to make choices and are ahead of the game when it comes to finding out about the qualifications, training and jobs available to them.

“We have a large number of apprenticeships available across the city, and we want to make sure we are communicating with as many young people as possible, so these opportunities are not missed.”

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for children’s services said:

“It is really important that we take the feedback on board that we are giving from young people and make sure we listen and use their ideas about how to communicate with them.

“There are plenty of apprenticeship opportunities available in the city, and we want to make sure all our young people know about them and are given the support and advice they need to complete the applications they are interested in.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk

Special Leeds Civic Hall tours now open to the public

Two special tours of Leeds Civic Hall hosted by the city’s Lady Mayoress Edna Murray are set to be held next month.

Beginning from this Saturday, February 1, those in attendance will be able to view a range of rooms, including the Ark Royal Room, Council Chamber, Reception Hall Banqueting Suite, and find out more about the history and stories associated with the building.

This will include the chance to discover how much it cost to build the Civic Hall and what happened to the key that was used to open the famous city landmark for the very first time.

Entry to the tour is free, and as an extra treat, the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Thomas Murray will also be present at the February 1 event to welcome guests.

To book your place on the tours, please contact the Leeds Visitor Centre on: 0113 2425242.

Refreshments will be available after the tour for a small donation to the Lord Mayor’s Charity Appeal - the LOFFTY project, at both events, held on February 1 and February 8 from 11am.

The Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Edna Murray said:

"I am really looking forward to hosting these two tours of the Civic Hall, which will provide an opportunity for people to find out more about one of our city’s most recognisable and famous buildings.

"As part of the tour, this will include the chance to visit the Ark Royal Room, Reception Hall, Banqueting Hall, Council Chamber and hear more about the history and interesting stories associated with the Civic Hall."

Notes to editors:

Two tours hosted by the Lady Mayoress will be held at the Civic Hall from 11am on:

Saturday, February 1, from 11am.

Saturday, February 8, from 11am.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578
Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk