Thursday, 20 February 2014

Leeds and Bradford broadband connection voucher scheme launched




Caption: (L-R) Chris Glen (Federation of Small Business), Tom Bridges (Leeds City Council), Cllr David Green (Leader of Bradford MDC), Mark Goldstone (Chamber of Commerce, Steve Crow (Clarion), Simon Barratt (Four Door Lemon)

Connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 are now available to small and medium-size businesses across Bradford and Leeds to cover the cost of upgrading to superfast broadband, offering SMEs the opportunity to transform the way they do business.

Funded through the Government’s ‘Superconnected Cities’ programme, the connection vouchers are available to companies in the two cities starting this week (commencing Monday 17th February1).

The programme is being delivered locally by Leeds City Council and Bradford Metropolitan District Council and is part of a national programme, designed to deliver a step change in broadband connection speeds and reliability.
The programme covers 22 cities, with Leeds and Bradford securing a £10 million share – the largest outside London – of the total £100 million funding available for the programme.

Businesses can apply online for a connection voucher via a dedicated website (www.superconnectedleedsbradford.co.uk). The vouchers cover the installation cost up to a maximum of £3,000 with on-going monthly costs being paid for by the business.

The programme isn’t linked to any particular technology – wireless, fibre, cable, mobile and other types of connection are all covered by the programme. Provided the the business is an SME based in Leeds or Bradford, they should be eligible for a connection voucher.

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, speaking ahead of the launch of the Superconnected Leeds Bradford programme, said: “Access to high speed broadband is crucial in a competitive global market and that is the environment our businesses now work and operate in.

“Securing an upgraded connection enables companies to share large data files and communicate more effectively with each other and with their customers. Ultimately it helps companies to grow and prosper which in turn generates more jobs for local people and this benefits us all."

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for development and the economy, said: “The average UK business will need 10 times their current bandwidth within the next five years. This means that high speed broadband is becoming an absolute necessity for businesses. Support for SME businesses in our two cities is welcome and will help significantly improve productivity and competitiveness, in turn helping to grow the local economy.“

Mark Goldstone of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said the latest Chamber research showed 92% of companies see broadband as critical to their business: “Broadband is now considered by many to be as vital as electricity and running water and access to a high quality service is one of the key factors when companies look to expand or locate.

“High speed broadband is game changing and allows companies to think and operate differently. Technologies such as cloud computing, for example, allow for more efficient use of resources to store and access data, freeing up capital which otherwise would have been invested in expensive server hardware and associated costs.”

Simon Barrett of Bradford-based games development firm Four Door Lemon, said: “High speed internet is vital to our business. In a digital industry, deliveries to our customers – be it gamers or other businesses – are completely dependent on the speed of our connection to deliver updates.

“With quicker connections we can iterate faster when making improvements and adjustments to our products and therefore increase our productivity and profit. This scheme is a very welcome benefit to companies in Leeds and Bradford and will help us be more competitive in the global market we operate in.”

Notes for editors
1. The Superconnected Leeds Bradford programme will be officially launched at a business breakfast taking place on Wednesday 19th February, 8am – 10am, at the offices of Clarion Solicitors, Elizabeth House, 13-19 Queen Street, Leeds LS1 2TW
2. ‘Superfast’ broadband typically refers to download speeds of above 30 megabits per second. Connection Vouchers can be used to support a variety of technical solutions, including both wired and wireless connections. As well as meeting the ongoing running costs of the broadband connection, the SME will need to pay for the VAT on the connection charge. The scheme runs in Leeds and Bradford until 31st March 2015.
3. Companies simply have to complete an online application form and obtain two supplier quotes. Further details and the application form are available at www.superconnectedLeedsBradford.co.uk
4. The ‘Superconnected Cities’ programme is part of a national programme to improve broadband connectivity and is running alongside the Superfast West Yorkshire infrastructure programme, which aims to bring high speed connectivity to residents and businesses in more rural areas. For more information about superfast broadband in West Yorkshire and government funded projects to improve access visit: www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk


Media contacts:
David Baggaley, Marketing Manager, Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 226 4397
Email: david.baggaley@leeds.gov.uk

Jane Lewis, Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Communications and Media Relations Manager, Bradford Council
Tel: 01274 433526
Email: jane.lewis@bradford.gov.uk

HS2 building should begin in Leeds

City leaders met with HS2 chiefs yesterday to lobby for construction of the new high-speed rail link to begin in Leeds.

The HS2 board, chaired by recently appointed Sir David Higgins current chief executive of Network Rail, visited Leeds as a first port-of-call for wider consultations about HS2 to hear the city’s mandates.

A strong case to begin building HS2 from the North was put to the board by the Leeds delegation led by Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Keith Wakefield which was warmly welcomed by Sir David Higgins.

Senior councillors believe the start date of 2027 for the link to Leeds is too far away and must be brought forward by starting construction in Leeds – allowing the region to begin making the most of economic benefits and new construction jobs sooner.

With over 900 trains and 100,000 passengers everyday using the North’s busies railway station at Leeds it is expected economic benefits from early HS2 investment would ripple out across the region carried by a network of improved transport links.

Leeds City Council Councillor and Metro Chair James Lewis said:

“High-speed rail is an incredible opportunity for Leeds with the potential to create thousands of new job and homes – an opportunity on a scale we have never seen before.

“HS2 has unwavering support from Leeds. We are very enthusiastic to welcome high-speed rail to Leeds and have tightly integrated it into our ambitious regeneration plans for the city.

“Leeds has a projected rail user growth of almost 70 per cent by 2029 for this very reason alone it makes sense to start engineering and construction of HS2 right here.

“However we are concerned the route needs to be right to benefit our region and we’re asking the board to revisit this. Today was a chance to demonstrate our commitment to doing all we can to ensure we get the best possible benefits for our city and our region.”

Fresh investment thanks to a proposed iconic new railway station in Leeds is being seen as a catalyst for regeneration of the south bank area.

Leeds also heard more about HS2’s plans to provide a college that would train people to work on the rail project and voiced its aspiration for the new college to be built in the Leeds city region.

The HS2 board’s visit was further marked by the launch of a programme recruiting business ambassador’s. The programme sees local businesses pledge their support to HS2 while helping to keep people informed about the positive impact high-speed rail would have on their lives.

Fore Consulting, Town Centre Securities, Shulmans solicitors, Land Securities and Think Architecture have already signed up and more are expected to join.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Dan Johnson,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 24 74450
Email: daniel.johnson2@leeds.gov.uk



LGBT History Month event set to be held at Leeds Art Gallery

An innovative event marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History month will be held at Leeds Art Gallery this weekend.

Visitors will have the opportunity on Saturday 22 February 2014 from 1pm-4.30pm, to hear from a number of prominent speakers and take part in a discussion about ‘Queer Culture’. Set to be on the panel of speakers include author Cherry Smyth, Dr Helen Davies, Senior Lecturer in English Studies at Teeside University, and Dr Catherine Stones, Deputy Director of Research at the School of Design, University of Leeds.

Following the discussion, those in attendance can join a tour of the Gallery and have the opportunity to enjoy a queer reading of selected artworks from the collection. The event will launch the Queer Eye Group meeting from early March - this peer led group will explore queer visual culture and performance through various projects determined by its members. For more details on how to join the group please contact Jude Woods (jude.woods@leeds.gov.uk)

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

"I’m delighted that the Leeds Art Gallery will be getting involved with LGBT History month this year. Queer Culture isn’t perhaps an area that we often see much focus on in our venues so it’s fantastic that such a high profile special event is taking place.

"There will be the opportunity to hear from a number of prominent speakers on the subject, as well as opportunities to get involved in the panel discussion.

"What I’m really excited about is that this event won’t end on the day itself. The launch of the new Queer Eye Group will provide an opportunity for anybody interested to get involved in a range of interesting visual art projects over the coming months.”

Notes to editors:

Speakers at the event include:

Cherry Smyth is the author of Queer Notions, 1992 and Damn Fine Art by New Lesbian Artists, 1996. She is a critic, poet and novelist.

Dr Helen Davies who will present an introduction to Queer Culture by charting queer history alongside film and television, Helen is Senior Lecturer in English Studies and Programme Leader for English at Teesside University and specialises in Victorian and neo-Victorian literature, women’s writing, gender/sexuality in literature, queer theory, cultures of austerity, and disability studies.

Dr Catherine Stones will present work from her illustration project exploring the challenges of depicting women's self-disclosure through visualising gay women's coming out stories. Catherine is a Lecturer in Graphic Design and Deputy Director of Research at the School of Design, University of Leeds.

Leeds Art Gallery
The Headrow
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 3AA
0113 247 8256
city.art.gallery@leeds.gov.uk
www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/default.aspx

Free admission
Opening Times
Monday & Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 12pm – 5pm
Thursday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm
Closed on Bank Holidays

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