Friday, 11 April 2014

Leaders welcome HS2 compensation package

Council leaders have welcomed an improved compensation and assistance package for property owners affected by the route of HS2.

The government has published the revised package for phase one between London and Birmingham, but council leaders expect the same package to be available to people affected in the Leeds city region once phase two gets underway.

An express purchase scheme is being launched for owner-occupiers of properties closest to the line, in the area known as the ‘surface safeguarded area’ (generally within 60 metres from the proposed line).

Under this scheme, the government could buy properties at the full unblighted market value, plus 10 per cent (up to £47,000) and reasonable moving expenses, including stamp duty.

The scheme is designed to be quick, clear and as straightforward as possible to make it easier for owner-occupiers to sell their property to the government, if they wish to do so.

Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“These are very encouraging developments and are exactly the kind of packages we’d expect to see offered to people affected by phase two of HS2 here in Leeds.

“It is reassuring to see the HS2 board has listened to our calls to better compensation for those affected by the proposed route. This is what we have been calling for all along.

“We will continue to press the case for minimising any impact on communities that could lessen any social and economic benefits until we are satisfied that our concerns are fully addressed.”

A ‘rent-back’ option will also be available, which will mean those people who want to sell their properties but carry-on living where they are, may be able to do so. An exceptional hardship scheme will also continue to be available for those who have an urgent need to sell their home but are unable to do so because of HS2.

Pending further consultation, a voluntary purchase scheme could be introduced by the end of this year for owner-occupiers in rural areas outside the safeguarded area and up to 120 metres away from the line.

Following further consultation, the government intends to introduce a need to sell scheme and consider applications to buy properties at full unblighted market value from owner-occupiers who have a compelling need to sell, such as job relocation or ill health, but who are unable to do so because of plans to build HS2. This scheme does not have a boundary. The government hopes to have this scheme available in urban and rural areas by the end of 2014 when it will replace the exceptional hardship scheme.

Beyond this compensation package the government will consult on a homeowner payment scheme which would entitle owner-occupiers to a cash payment if they live between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line in rural areas. This could enable people in these areas to share in the benefits of HS2 as it will run near them but would not provide them with a direct benefit.

ENDS

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

Anti-Social Behaviour team celebrates success

Leeds approach to tackling anti-social behaviour is paying dividends with the majority of people who report incidents being satisfied with the outcome of their case.

The latest statistics show that overall 98% of people who contacted the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team in 2013/14 were satisfied with how their complaint was handled.

During the same time, 94% of people said they were satisfied with the outcome of their case.

The team, made up of staff from Leeds City Council, Housing Leeds, West Yorkshire Police and Victim Support took 4,783 calls from Leeds residents concerned about everything from littering and neighbourhood disagreements through to serious abuse, intimidation and drug or criminal related anti-social behaviour in 2013/14.

In an effort to stop problems escalating, the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team aims to resolve problems at the earliest opportunity. The team will work with people to provide support or intervention and enforcement where necessary.

Around half of the calls received were resolved at the time they were reported. The remaining cases – 2,223 - were serious enough to warrant a full investigation. These were resolved through a mixture of voluntary agreements, mediation, supportive referrals, warnings and cautions.

A small minority of cases resulted in enforcement actions including injunctions, possessions and premise closures.

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

“The statistics bear out the importance of early intervention so we can support residents and take action when appropriate to stop things before they get worse.

“The team are very conscious that residents can feel vulnerable or particularly stressed when dealing with anti-social behaviour so it is a great credit to them that people are satisfied with the way their case is handled.

“It’s also a ringing endorsement of our approach that so many cases are resolved to the satisfaction of residents.”

Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds district commander, said:

"Anti-social behaviour blights people's lives and it's therefore vitally important that we continue to work closely alongside our partner agencies to tackle it.

“We have invested a significant number of officers into the multi-agency team and are continuing to develop our approach to make our response to incidents even more effective.

"The main principle we are working towards is to be able to provide a joined up multi-agency response to every incident of anti-social behaviour."

Residents can report anti-social behaviour problems through their landlords or by contacting the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team direct on 0113 222 4402.

Notes:
91.1% of respondents were satisfied with the speed in which LASBT first made contact.
97.4% of respondents were satisfied with the Case Officers investigation into the complaint.
98.7% were satisfied that they were consulted about the action that the Case Officer took.
97.8% were satisfied that they were kept up to date for the duration of the case.
94.3% were satisfied with the case outcome.
97.6% of customers were contacted prior to case closure.
92.6% were satisfied with the support offered to them by the Case Officer.
98.0% were satisfied with the overall service provided by LASBT.


ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 395 1577
Email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk

Easter treats on offer at Kirkgate Market

Inspiration for your family meal, gift ideas, free chocolate and fun activities for the kids are all on offer at Leeds’ favourite market this Easter.

With an abundance of fresh food from Kirkgate Market’s varied traders, planning your great-value Easter feast with the family couldn’t be easier.

While the grown-ups are shopping for tasty treats, Easter eggs and other gifts, kids will need to keep their eyes peeled on Saturday 19 April from 11am until 3pm. The White Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland will be wandering around the market giving away free chocolate to kids who find them.

Also on Saturday 19 April, children can hop over to the play space in the 1976 hall from 10.30am to 3.30pm where they can have their face painted and indulge in some Easter themed craft activities and balloon modelling.

To help people make their Easter weekend preparations as easy as possible, Kirkgate Market will be open as usual on Good Friday but closed on Easter Monday, reopening on Tuesday 22 April.

Sue Burgess, markets manager, said:

“There’s certainly a lot to choose from for a delicious and fun Easter break at the market. We’re looking forward to welcoming shoppers – old and new – not just in the run up to the holidays, but throughout the year.

“We really enjoy putting on special events for our visitors, which will be even more exciting with the dedicated events space which is included in our refurbishment plans.”

The council recently gave the green light for the £12.3million refurbishment project to secure the markets future. The approval paves the way for a planning application to be submitted along with listed building consent.

Visitors to the market are reminded that the George Street car park is now closed. Information on alternative parking can be found on the market’s website. The facility closed to make way for the construction of the market’s newest neighbour – the Victoria Gate development.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk

ENDS