Thursday, 15 May 2014

Clock starts ticking as Leeds begins final countdown to the Grand Départ

The final countdown to Leeds hosting the start of this year’s Tour de France officially begins this week.

As part of the celebrations to mark 50 days to go until the Grand Départ of the world’s largest annual sporting event, a unique countdown clock will officially start ticking down at Trinity Leeds shopping centre from 6pm on Friday night (May 16).

***************MEDIA INVITE***********************************
Media are invited to attend the switch-on of the Grand Départ countdown clock at Trinity Leeds shopping centre at 6pm on Friday 16 May. Interviews will be available with all partners in the project including Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, designer Barney George and students from the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering.
***************MEDIA INVITE***********************************

The stylish and striking clock entitled the ‘Grand Départ Mechanical Theatre’ was designed by Leeds-based theatre designer Barney George following an open commission process by Leeds City Council.

The ambitious design is a celebration of cycling inspired by the mechanics of a bicycle. Made from giant steel cogs and precision cut woodwork, the clock features a giant outer cog which counts down days while smaller inner dials count hours, minutes and seconds.

Such is the intricacy of the clock, manufactured in collaboration with the University of Leeds’ School of Mechanical Engineering, each cog is interconnected, bringing together a range of bicycles and cyclists which move around the outer rim. As the countdown reaches zero on the morning of Saturday 5 July, the finale will feature a series of chimes and confetti cannons to signal that the time of the Grand Départ has arrived.

Designer Barney George said:

“As the work comes to life we are reminded of the joy of cycling: the dreaming child, the elderly lady on a daily route, the super fit competition rider. Very much like a team in Le Tour, each urging the other to achieve the ultimate goal of triumph.

“Whether it makes people wonder about design and manufacture, or inspires them to get on their bike and go for a ride I cannot wait to see people’s reactions when my design is unveiled on Friday.”

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

“The finished clock is amazing – I’m sure people are going to be fascinated by it when they see it at Trinity Leeds over the next 50 days. Barney’s vision and imagination for the design has been fantastic and it has been brought to life brilliantly by the students at the University of Leeds.

“The next 50 days are going to fly by as the excitement builds and builds to us welcoming the world to watch the start of this incredible global event here in Leeds, and the clock will provide a lasting memory of the Tour for years to come.”

Gerald Jennings, Portfolio Director at Land Securities, the developer behind the Trinity Leeds shopping complex, said:

“We’re really proud to be hosting Barney’s winning design at Trinity Leeds so that millions of shoppers and passers-by will be able to see and enjoy it in action. This will be a momentous year for the city and one which is unlikely to ever happen again.”

Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds Dan Trowsdale said:

“The hours have been building up over the last few days to ensure the cycle mechanisms and electronic controls are fully operational, fingers crossed everything works as planned!

“Meeting the demands of the intricate mechanical theatre and electronic show design has been a real challenge and a great experience for the students. Working on this project has tested us all but it has been fun and enjoyable and the end result will be something everyone involved can be very proud of.”

Aside from the countdown clock, more of the official Grand Départ banners will be seen along the route in Leeds to mark 50 days to go, as well as the first of many bikes which have been specially painted yellow and placed at locations on the route.

To find out all the latest news and information for Leeds about the Tour de France visit or sign up for email alerts at

For the latest information on Yorkshire’s Grand Départ visit

Notes to editors:

The 2014 Tour de France begins in Leeds on Saturday 5 July, with stage one taking the riders 190kilometres to Harrogate.

Stage two on Sunday 6 July is 200km from York to Sheffield, while stage three on Monday 7 July is 159km from Cambridge to London.

It is estimated that 98 per cent of the population of Yorkshire will be within an hour of the route during its two days in the county, with the economic benefit expected to be in excess of £100m.

The University of Leeds is hosting a programme of activities to celebrate the Grand Départ, including free public lectures. More information can be found on their website at

Trinity Leeds is situated in the heart of the city with 1 million sq ft of shopping and leisure and includes over 120 new shops, stores and restaurants. For more information go to

Land Securities is the UK’s largest commercial property company. For more information see


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,

‘Walkshire’ adventure encourages healthy ways to travel to school and cut congestion

Primary schools in Leeds are taking part in an exciting new walking adventure designed to encourage healthy, congestion-busting ways of travelling to school.

The new web-based scheme, called ‘Walkshire’ encourages pupils to walk, scoot and cycle their way to school as part of a fun and interactive online challenge.

The scheme has been developed by the five West Yorkshire councils (Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro) who also host the website,

The aim of the challenge is to help two characters called ‘Footlings’ on their quest to save an imaginary place, Walkshire, from a dragon called Fumes whilst learning facts and collecting coins along the way. The challenge lasts for 6 weeks and schools record how many pupils walk, scoot or cycle to school every week. Pupil journeys are then converted to Walkshire miles. To complete the challenge schools need to increase the number of pupils walking, cycling or scooting to school by 10%.

‘Walkshire’ will be launched during national Walk to School Week, which takes place between 19 and 23 May 2014. A special event is taking place on 22 May 2014 at SS Peter and Paul School in Yeadon – the school piloted the initiative. Children will walk to school accompanied by a Walkshire character. They will then be treated to an interactive play all about the Walkshire story delivered by Histrionics, Theatre Company.

Media opportunity
When: Thursday 22 May at 8.30am
Where: Parents and pupils will meet at Argos car park Unit 1, West Side Retail Park, Guiseley, West Yorkshire LS20 9NE and walk to SS Peter and Pauls Catholic Primary School, Crofters Lea, Yeadon, LS19 7HW (duration: 10 minutes). They will be accompanied by a Walkshire Character in costume, a road safety trainer and staff from Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team.
Photographs will be made available after the event.

Diane Todd, head teacher at Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School, Yeadon, said:
“The children were very motivated by the idea of Walkshire and the magical land and characters that exist there. The children also enjoyed learning about the different places along the route and loved the medieval names for familiar places. They made a really big effort to walk to school so that they could save the Footlings from the dragon. Our school is always very keen to support initiatives like Walkshire which are a fun way to promote walking, cycling and scooting to school.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services, said:“Initiatives like Walkshire are a great way to capture children’s imagination and encourage them to lead healthier more active lifestyles by walking to school. It is also a great opportunity to teach children vital road safety skills and ensure they are alert and ready to learn at the start of the day.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member with responsibility for development and the economy, said:“It’s great to see so many Leeds schools promoting car-free ways to travel to school. Encouraging children to walk to school helps them keep healthy as well as helping to reduce traffic on our roads and avoid congestion outside our school gates.”
Walkshire is one of a number of initiatives being promoted to schools as part of the Leeds School Active Travel Project in the lead up to Le Grand Départ.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council communications team (0113) 247 5472

Don’t miss the post with your vote in Leeds

People voting by post in Leeds are being reminded to return their completed ballot forms in plenty of time to help the city’s elections team deal with what is the largest postal vote in the country.

Around 93,000 people are registered in the city to return their votes in the post for the Leeds City Council and European elections being held on Thursday May 22. Postal ballot packs started arriving in households across the city this week.

Susanna Benton, electoral services manager for Leeds City Council, said:

"Our staff deal with the UK’s largest number of postal votes and it requires a lot of care and attention to make sure that everything is in order in time for the counts. It would really help us if voters returned their forms quickly so we can begin that task, rather than waiting till close to polling day itself.

"If you haven’t received your ballot pack yet don’t worry- the delivery is so large it happens in phases in the run-up to polling day."

If you have any general queries about the elections you can find plenty of information on the council’s website at The elections team is available by email at , or call the elections helpline on 0113 222 4411. It is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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


First World War fighter planes to be displayed in city centre

Caption: An Eastchurch Kitten First World War bi-plane will feature in the exhibition on May 21.

For one day only, two First World War bi-planes will be showcased in the heart of Leeds city centre next week as part of a special exhibition.

In what promises to be a unique event, an RAF built example of a 1914 BE2c fighter and a recently restored replica 1917 PV8 Eastchurch Kitten from the Yorkshire Air Museum Collection at Elvington will be displayed on Victoria Gardens outside Leeds Art Gallery on Wednesday 21 May from 8.30am until 6pm. Included throughout the day, will be the opportunity for visitors to hear sounds not heard for almost 100 years, as a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten is set to take place on the hour.

Set to feature in the exhibition are live re-enactors representing men and women who fought through the war, and they will be on hand to talk to visitors, passers-by and school children throughout the event.

The 1914 BE2c fighters were part of the first three Royal Flying Corps Squadrons sent to France at the outbreak of the war. Many of the aircraft were built under licence by the Blackburn Aircraft Company in Leeds and the plane exhibited outside the art gallery will carry the famous 1914 Blackburn Logo. The 1917 PV78 Eastchurch Kitten was a very tiny aircraft, intended to be launched from ships in the English Channel to intercept Zeppelin airships making their way to British town and cities. Only one Eastchurch Kitten was ever built, and it was later withdrawn as its design was not considered suitable.

This display will form part of the city’s centenary commemoration of the First World War, which began in August 1914.

For more information on Leeds Museums and Galleries First World War Programme, please see:

Further details regarding the Yorkshire Air Museum can be found at:

Councillor Graham Hyde, Leeds City Council's chair of the armed forces member champion group said:

"The First World War left an indelible mark on our city, region and country, and we feel both proud and privileged to host this exhibition, which forms part of the Yorkshire Air Museum’s commemoration of the First World War.

“Visitors will have the chance as part of the event to see outside Leeds Art Gallery two First World War fighter planes, and also on the hour listen to a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten which really does promise to be something not to be missed.

"With live re-enactors also representing men and women who experienced the First World War in different roles at the exhibition, this will provide an opportunity to find out more and be given an insight into their lives during the conflict."

Ian Reed, Director of Yorkshire Air Museum said:

"We are delighted to help begin these four years of commemoration with such a unique event, to remember so many people who gave so much for our country 100 years ago.

"In 1914 Britain went to war with 113 aeroplanes. By the end we had over 4000, but 9800 airmen had been killed. In April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force, the first air force in the world, which has served our country well for the last 96 years, and continues to do so."

Notes to editors:
For more information on the global commemoration of the First World War Centenary, please see the Imperial War Museums website at: or the University of Leeds:

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