Friday, 21 February 2014

Crack down on antisocial behaviour and rough sleeping in New Wortley

People who live in council flats in New Wortley will soon notice a reduction in antisocial behaviour and rough sleepers, thanks to a new injunction awarded to Leeds City Council this week.

Leeds City Council sought the injunction from Leeds County Court in response to reports of anti-social behaviour, drug use and rough sleeping in communal areas, from residents of the Clyde and Wortley flats in New Wortley.

At a hearing earlier this week, the council successfully obtained an open-ended injunction against ‘person’s unknown’ to prevent drug use and possession, toileting and sleeping in the communal areas of these flats.

In a novel use of section 153 of the Housing Act the council was able to obtain injunctions against “persons unknown” to protect residents of the blocks of flats and protect the council’s ability to manage the properties, enabling them to take action even when the identities of the individuals are not known initially.

If the injunction is breached the council can then apply to have the individual excluded from the area and if they return again they will risk arrest and contempt proceedings.

His Honour Judge Andrew Saffman, who granted the injunction commented that “that this type of behaviour shouldn’t be happening at all” and so saw no sense in placing a time limit on the injunctions.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member responsible for neighbourhoods, planning and support services and chair of the Safer Leeds Partnership said:

“Our residents should not have to put up with this type of anti-social and extremely unpleasant behaviour in the communal areas of their homes, so it is great news that the court has granted us these rare powers to take action against people – even where their identity is unknown.

“By working closely with the police and third sector organisations we can help make the living conditions much more pleasant for the residents of The Clyde and Wortley flats.”

Residents of these flats had previously reported groups of transient people using the communal areas to sleep rough, toilet and use Class A drugs. The issues reported included people being found asleep in stairwells and chute rooms, urine and faeces being found on stairs, in chute rooms and in the lifts, and people being found injecting drugs with the associated mess left behind of blood spills and discarded needles.

Leeds City Council’s antisocial behaviour team, West Yorkshire Police and CRI Street Outreach Team and BARCA Leeds are carrying out joint enforcement action at these locations over the weekend – so filming and photography opportunities are possible. Please contact Leeds City Council press office on 0113 2474713 to discuss.

Leeds City Council’s antisocial behaviour team and housing officers have been working alongside West Yorkshire Police and third sector organisations to tackle this problem and have sought this injunction from the courts in a bid to make the flats a safer and more pleasant place to live.

S153A of the Housing Act allows the Council to prevent conduct “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance” and is tied to the Housing Management Function.

The partners working together to tackling the issues in New Wortley include Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, CRI, BARCA, St George Crypt and staff from the local primary school and family centre.

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

Council applies for city wide injunction to prevent encampments

Leeds City Council is applying for a wide ranging injunction to prevent travellers from setting up unlawful encampments on key environmentally sensitive areas of land across the city. The council has identified six sites across the city that the application will cover.

The sites that have been identified are: Roundhay Park and Soldiers Field, Holbeck Moor, Wykebeck Valley, The John Charles Centre for Sport, Gassy Field at Armley Gyratory and land around Kirkstall Abbey.

The council has submitted papers to the court this week and if successful, the injunction should forbid trespass on these areas of land.

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

“We have looked at all our options very carefully when considering submitting this injunction. All of these sites have suffered due to unlawful encampments in the past. The encampments tend to cause disruptions to local people and incur a cost to the council with the tidying up and court fees associated with moving people on.“

“We have already had success with toleration agreements and injunctions against individuals set up against certain groups or individuals, but we want a more robust solution to tackling unlawful encampments in these very visible and well used locations.

“If we are successful with obtaining the injunction we will send a clear message that unlawful encampments will not be tolerated.”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Phil Morcom, Leeds City Council press office Tel: 0113 394 3602

Can you give a teenager in care a fresh start?

People who think they might be able to give a teenager a fresh start in life, by becoming a foster carer, are being invited to an information event next week.

Leeds City Council is on the look-out for people who have the right skills, time and space, to look after a teenager who is currently in the care of the local authority.

People from across the city who are interested in finding out more, are invited to come to a ‘foster a teenager information evening’ on Wednesday 26th February 2014 (7pm till 9pm) Waitrose Supermarket (Cafe area), Meanwood, LS6 4RJ.

The event will give people the chance to hear from foster carers what it is really like to look after a teenager in care, as well as hearing from fostering experts from Leeds City Council’s fostering team about what help, advice, support and training is on offer to potential carers.

The council is looking to recruit foster carers for young people aged 13 and over, who would be able to look after a young person beyond the usual leaving care age of 18, in order to provide an effective stepping-stone to independence.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Fostering a teenager can be a challenging but extremely rewarding thing to do. Adolescence can be a turbulent time for any young person, but this is often compounded for young people in care, who have often had a troubled early childhood.
This is why we need to find those amazing people who are robust, energetic, empathetic and caring and able to rise to the challenge.

“There are no particular people who make successful foster carers for teenagers. They include single people, couples, and gay and lesbian carers. Before fostering they have usually had experience of caring for teenagers, either through raising their own family, or through having contact in other ways, for example through their work.

“What is important is that they share a genuine enjoyment in working with teenagers and a commitment to promoting their welfare and helping them become independent adults.”

Over recent years there has been a move towards young people remaining in foster care after they reach 18. The recruitment of the new specialist carers will offer a stepping stone between foster care and independent living and provide young people with an opportunity to acquire skills to achieve this transition successfully.

The council has two dedicated fostering support teams and carers have access to professional training and qualifications.

By working for Leeds City Council, carers will help ensure all the available funding for fostering goes towards children and young people and that Leeds children are fostered in their home city, which at times can help them remain in their local school and community.

John and Stephanie Forbes have been fostering teenagers in Leeds for 32 years. They have recently won the Child Friendly Leeds award for looking after children and young people, and in 2009 were awarded an MBE for their services to fostering, having been nominated by people who had previously been fostered by them.

Mr and Mrs Forbes saw an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post promoting an information evening about fostering with Leeds City Council back in 1982 and they discovered how we needed foster carers for older children and teenagers. Their greatest reward is meeting with adults who they fostered while they were teenagers, and seeing them parent and care for their own children, knowing they had an influential part in that process.

They said: “Most teenagers go through a difficult time, but a looked after child, in the majority of cases, has come from a very complex situation far different from the experience of our own youngsters. Sometimes you can work with the young person’s birthparent to return the child into the care of their families, in some cases after many years of separation. This is something we have done on a number of occasions and feel a great deal of satisfaction from it.”

Interviews can be arranged with Mr and Mrs Forbes, through Leeds City Council’s press office.

Visit or call the dedicated foster care recruitment line on: 0113 2477443 for more information.

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