Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Landlord facing fines for empty home failures

A London-based property firm which left two properties in Leeds empty and falling into disrepair has been fined by Leeds magistrates following enforcement taken by Leeds City Council.

The council took the action following a string of failures to meet environmental and housing standards. The two long term empty properties in the Nowells in East Leeds were investigated by the council for a range of issues and despite attempts to encourage the landlord to bring the properties up to scratch, it was necessary to take legal action.

Leeds City Council and its partners have invested significantly in the Nowells over the last 18 months as part of the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach. The resulting new multi-agency area-based approach has seen nearly 40 long-term empty properties brought back into use in this area and improved standards in 127 homes.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Personnel said:

“The owner has failed to engage with the council to deal with these properties despite numerous attempts to speak with him. As a council we want to do our best to work with landlords to make sure decent homes are available for people in the city. However, if people fail to look after properties and treat tenants or the council with contempt, they can expect to end up in court and face appropriate legal penalties. In this case, it will cost HRKS Ltd almost £6,000. In fines, costs and victim surcharge.”

Rashpal Parmar, who attended court on behalf of HRKS Ltd, and represented the company, offered to pay the fines in instalments over six months, which was accepted by the court.

Notes for editors:

Fines were imposed as follows, and costs were awarded, plus a £120 victims surcharge -
i. Failure to comply with the s239 HA04 notice – £1000 fine, costs of £707
ii. Failure to comply with the s59 BA notice - £1000 fine, costs of £1300
iii. Failure to comply with the s4 PDPA notice, £600 fine, costs of £932.28

Media contact:

Phil Morcom
Communications and Marketing team
Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3602
Fax: 0113 247 4736
www.leeds.gov.uk

Local projects demonstrate impact of neighbourhood panels

Tenants from around Leeds are set to make the most of fresh opportunities to bid for funds which can make a significant difference in their communities.

More than 150 neighbourhood projects across the city have already received support from funds allocated by local Housing Advisory Panels (HAP). With over £600,000 allocated so far this year, the council is keen to stress there is still time for communities to make the case for funding for local projects.

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

“The Housing Advisory Panels provide a great opportunity for people living in our communities to find out more about plans for the city, to become actively involved in delivering projects that will add real value to the areas they live in and to make sure projects planned by the council link with the needs, wishes and values of the people who live in the city.

“I’ve seen great examples of the difference projects can make, such as Halton Moor Juniors football coaching and Rycroft Green community garden, improving the quality of local communities. I’d encourage anyone interested in getting involved to contact us to find out more.”

Ted Wilson, Chair of the HAP Chairs meeting, said:

“Tenants and communities can get in touch with the Housing Advisory Panels to let the council know what the most crucial issues they want to be addressed are and suggest projects and activities which could be funded to make a difference.”

Projects don’t have to be huge – some cost less than £100. Equally, there have been bigger investments of money over £30,000. The Leeds City Council investment for local Housing Advisory Panels (HAP) means there is a funding pot £1.32million.

The regular meetings not only look at finance and investment in community schemes, but also provide a chance for tenants to learn about local services and help shape them to better meet the needs of local residents. The event on 7th October was the first meeting where all HAP members met together to share progress, and was a chance for involved tenants to hear about the plans for investment in council housing in the city from Simon Costigan, Chief Officer for Strategic Housing and lettings for sustainable communities, from Chief Officer for Housing management, Liz Cook.

The Housing Advisory Panels support a range of environmental and community projects that benefit council tenants, and the communities in which they live. Anyone wanting more information about accessing funding help or any council tenants interested in doing more in their community by volunteering to be a panel member should email housingadvisorypanel@leeds.gov.uk, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/hap or phone 0113 378 1340.

-ends

Notes for editors:

Examples of some of the projects that have benefited include:
• Better recycling facilities for communal areas of high and low rise flats.
• Projects such as Chapeltown and Harehills Hope Kids Club, Pembroke’s Community Group Activity Club and the Ciaran Bingham Trust’s project to promote social inclusion of elderly people.
• Improvements such as security lighting, communal area enhancements, footpath upgrades, signage improvements and fencing.


Issued by:
Phil Morcom

Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 0244
Email: philip.morcom@leeds.gov.uk

Courts issue £12,000 Leeds car park fine

Just weeks after Leeds City Council decided to clamp down on dodgy car park firms, an unauthorised car park business has been hit by a £12,000 fine.

Roadside Retail Limited who operated an illegal car park at the former Yorkshire Chemicals site on Kirkstall Road were fined £12,000 plus costs in Leeds magistrates court yesterday (Tuesday 7th October) for non-compliance with an enforcement notice.

This follows the council’s commitment to clamp down on a range of illegal sites as Leeds City Council takes action on firms who have failed to gain planning permission or make authorised sites safe and secure.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Executive Member for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel said:

“I want car parks in Leeds to be operated legally and safely. This firm has been raking in money from people parking on the site but haven’t been doing so legally. I am delighted that the courts have backed us up and emphasised that dodgy car parks face prosecution.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member responsible for transport and the economy, said:

“We know action has to be taken against illegal operators. They are parasites who are not only breaking the law, but undermining other legal car parking organisations who comply with the rules and invest in their sites.”
Media contact:

Phil Morcom
Communications and Marketing team
Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3602
Fax: 0113 247 4736
www.leeds.gov.uk

Civic Hall to host World Mental Health Day celebration




Caption: Councillor Lisa Mulherin and Cllr Adam Ogilvie outside Leeds Civic all, which will host the World Mental Health Day event on Friday.

The doors or Leeds Civic Hall will be thrown open to welcome organisations from across the city to a celebration of World Mental Health Day this week.

A huge banner has been put in place on the front of the building ahead of the event this Friday (Oct 10) and details have been showing on the big screen on Millennium Square in the build-up to the day.

The event itself, which takes place in the Civic Hall’s banqueting suite, will see more than 30 organisations from around Leeds raising awareness and providing advice and information to people attending on the day.

Groups who will be attending include Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service, Leeds Mind, Leeds City Council Adult Social Care and Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust.

Public tours of the Civic Hall will also take place throughout the day, with information films shown in Ark Royal room.

Dancers and live musicians will also be performing, including the Zest Health for Life Line Dancing group and the band from the council’s Lovell Park Hub.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:

“This event will be a chance for us to open our doors and celebrate some of the fantastic work going on locally which is making a genuine difference to the lives of people experiencing mental health problems in our city.

“But as we celebrate what has already been accomplished, we must also take the opportunity to raise awareness about what still needs to be done.

“Whilst incredible progress has been made in removing the stigma around mental health issues, through holding events like this we must continue to break down barriers and ensure that people who need help have the both the confidence to ask for it and the information they need to find it.”

World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 with the aim of being a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.

Friday’s event will build on the range of work being done by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which has been working improve people’s mental health and wellbeing as part of their strategy for Leeds.

This June, the board sponsored an event entitled Mentally Healthy City which saw planning and urban design officers, mental health professionals, recreation experts and charities come together to talk about how the designs for current and future developments in Leeds can help support good mental health.

The event was hosted by Cllr Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

She said: “World Mental Health Day has become a key date in recognising the vital role mental health plays in people’s overall wellbeing and letting people know just how much support is out there.

“Improving people’s mental health and wellbeing is one of our key commitments and by getting everyone together and talking at event like these, we can plan for the future and make sure we have what we need in place to accomplish that goal.

“June’s event also saw some really interesting discussions about the major role buildings, parks, green spaces and other local facilities can all play in the emotional wellbeing of people living in Leeds. It’s important that we look at those factors in detail when thinking about how we can build healthy and sustainable communities.”

Young people will also be playing their part in marking World Mental Health Day with a challenge to design a special poster.

All schools and academies in Leeds are being asked to come up with ideas to promote positive mental health, by designing a poster with their five top tips for keeping mentally and/or emotionally healthy or helping their friends to do the same.

One winning secondary school and one winning primary school will be invited to the Civic Hall to meet the Lord Mayor of Leeds and have a tour as well as having their winning poster framed and twenty copies printed.

More information can be found here: http://www.schoolwellbeing.co.uk/pages/world-mental-health-day-competition

Schools can send a poster through the post to Lucy Barrow, TaMHS School Development Consultant, Health and Wellbeing Service, Children's Services, Adam's Court, Kildare Terrace, Whitehall Road, Leeds LS12 1DB by Friday, November 21st or email to lucy.barrow@leeds.gov.uk

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact:

Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937
Email: stuart.robinson@leeds.gov.uk
www.leeds.gov.uk

Essential maintenance work to close Leeds Inner Ring Road in October

Essential maintenance work to strengthen Westgate Footbridge along a section of Leeds Inner Ring Road will take place over two weekends in October.

Motorists are being warned to plan ahead as the A58(M) Leeds Inner Ring Road will be fully closed to traffic in both directions the weekends of Friday 17 October 2014 and Friday 31 October 2014.

The works are part of a programme of ongoing essential maintenance work to upgrade the Inner Ring Road and need to be carried out safely whilst part of the road is closed.

The first closure will start at 8pm on Friday 17 October 2014 and will finish at 6am on Monday 20 October. The next closure will start at 8pm on Friday 31 October 2014 and will finish at 6am on Monday 3 November 2014.

Westgate Footbridge is located west of Leeds city centre and carries a footway over the A58(M) Leeds Inner Ring Road. The council is proposing to strengthen the central reserve pier with associated upgrading of the safety fence, and the pier between the main A58(M) carriageway and the eastbound slip road.

The closures have been scheduled to avoid major city centre weekend events, where possible. An alternative signed route will be in place to help alleviate traffic congestion.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for transport and the economy, said:
“This is essential maintenance work which cannot be delayed and must be carried out safely, leaving no alternative other than to close the road. We understand that it will cause traffic disruption and have done everything possible to minimise the length of time taken for this work and give people advance notice so they can allow more time for their journeys.”

The extent of the closures will be between:-

Eastbound Traffic
The closure will be between the A58(M) exit slip at Wellington Street to slip road at Westgate point for Park lane.
Eastbound traffic will be diverted via West Street and the A58.

Westbound Traffic
The closure will be between the A653 Marsh Lane exit slip and the A58(M) junction with Wellington Street.
Westbound traffic will be diverted via the A653 Marsh Lane, the A61, The Calls, Swine gate, Wellington Street back to A58(M).

For information about bridges and highways structures and to download detailed documents about related works visit www.leeds.gov.uk/bridges


ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 39 50244
Email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk

The older kids are back at school – what’s on for the under fives


Caption: There are a number of fun activities for the under fives on offer this autumn.

A range of exciting activities and events for the under fives are available at two of Leeds’ museums this autumn.

Kicking-off the fun is Abbey House Museum, who will be providing ‘Messy Monkey Sessions’ every Friday afternoon during term time from 2pm - 4pm. Why not join in the fun and be creative with materials from paint to glitter, and maybe make new friends in the unique setting of the museum.

Also held at Abbey House, is ‘Little Scientists’, where budding boffins, geniuses and experts of the future, can take part in messy and creative science based fun, which has a different theme each month. Themes will include on 5 November, ‘Trains and Boats’ and on the 3 December, ‘Flying’.

A Toddler Treasure hunt will also be held throughout October, where they can hunt for clues through the Victorian streets and win a prize if they find all the projects.

A short walk from Abbey House is historic Kirkstall Abbey, and they too are ensuring fun and exciting for the little ones with ‘Muddy Monkeys’ every Tuesday morning, which includes free fun craft based activities.

In addition to the events at Abbey House Museum and Kirkstall Abbey for under fives, there is also 'Playground' at Leeds Art Gallery and 'Tiny Tiger' at Leeds City Museum. To find out more about what Leeds Museums and Galleries have to offer people of all ages, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"There is always a lot to see and do in our museums and galleries, and it is fantastic that this autumn we are offering activities for the under fives at Abbey House Museum and Kirkstall Abbey.

"On offer will include a number of messy and enjoyable craft events and in what promises something not to be missed, youngsters, as part of ‘Little Scientists’, will have an early chance to find out how much fun science can be."

Notes to editors:
Abbey House Museum is an interactive family-friendly museum overlooking Kirkstall Abbey in Kirkstall, just three miles from the city centre of Leeds. The ground floor of the museum is set out with three authentic Victorian streets illustrating a range of shops, houses and services from 1880s Leeds. Upstairs galleries feature the Childhood Gallery and the Community Gallery showcasing the nationally important collection of toys and games, as well as temporary exhibitions.

Admission to under five events:
Adults £3.90 (discount with Leeds Card),with children under five, free.

Mondays closed (except bank holiday Mondays) Tues-Fri and Sun 10am-5pm, Sat 12pm-5pm (last admission 4pm).

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most complete Cistercian monasteries in Britain. Founded in 1152 by Cistercian monks, Kirkstall was a religious centre in Yorkshire until 1539 when it was closed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Visitors can explore the abbey ruins to discover where the monks worked, lived and prayed over 800 years ago, from the majesty of the church to the peace of the cloisters.

The Visitor Centre is home to displays about the abbey, kid’s dressing up and a shop selling unique bespoke products. Entrance to Kirkstall Abbey is Free. There are regular events at the abbey throughout the year, including the Kirkstall Festival every July.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk