Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Thousands of empty Leeds properties brought back into use

Thousands of previously empty properties are now homes to families across the city, thanks to the ongoing work and investment by Leeds City Council.

As part of national Empty Homes week (1 – 5 December) Leeds City Council is raising awareness of the assistance and initiatives available to help bring the city’s empty properties back into use.

The council has introduced a number of schemes over the last five years, to help private owners bring their empty properties back in to use, as well as turning previously empty properties into social housing. These initiatives have resulted in reducing the number of long term empty properties by nearly 2,000 to 4,747 since 2010. The council has also been able to help reduce the total number of empty properties from 16,700 in 2010 to 13,573 as at 31 March 2014.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member responsible for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“Bringing empty homes back into use is a top 10 priority for the council and over the past two years the council has invested significant funding to support work achieve this.

“We know these properties can cause a blight to local communities and with so many people needing affordable housing it is a great way to make sure more families can get a home which is a decent standard. It is a ‘win win’ for all concerned.

“By looking at innovative ways to invest, working with social enterprise organisations and forging close links with the private rented sector we can work together to bring these much needed houses back into use.”
One such project has been a partnership with a Leeds based social enterprise; Leeds Empties to develop- innovative ways of bringing empty homes back into occupation. To help support this on-going work the council agreed to support Leeds Empties with funding of £100k.

The investment was used to expand the ‘Empty Home Doctor Service’, to develop a one-stop website for owners of empty properties, and to look at new funding options to help address empty homes. Following the success of the pilot the council has now agreed a formal grant of £100k per year, for the next three years, with an aim to bring 50 long term empty homes back into use in year one increasing to 70 by year three. The council also works with other third sector organisations such as LATCH, Canopy and GIPSIL

In September 2012 the council invested £1m into the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach. A new team was established to target neighbourhoods with high numbers of empty properties and poor quality private rented accommodation. A pilot exercise was undertaken in an area with 44 long term empty properties which resulted in 39 long term empties being brought back into use. a Compulsory purchase orders being considered for the remaining properties.

As well as working with the private rented sector and private property owners, the council is also looking how to bring empty properties back into use as social housing. Last month the council was able to let a previously empty property to a social housing tenant as part of a ground-breaking scheme, funded by investment from the Council’s Housing Revenue Account supported by funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

The project has seen the council buying 20 properties, which were formerly council houses, then refurbishing them for letting as council housing. The first house let as the council house growth programme at Wellstone Garth has been fitted with a new kitchen, as well as being rewired and having external works completed.

The success of this scheme has prompted a further scheme to buy back 100 properties between April 2015 and March 2018, in a drive to provide more social housing in the city.

The new initiatives and the council’s continued proactive work with the sector will see the council sustain the number of empties brought back into occupation for the next five years and exceed the current average annual return of 395 long term properties.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Multi-agency operation tackles rogue landlords in Leeds

Leeds City Council, working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) and other partners across the city, carried out an operation on Dewsbury Road last week as part of a scheme tackling rogue landlords.

The multi-agency operation was targeting fire safety, environmental health and standards of accommodation, as well as offering residents and landlords advice and support to ensure accommodation and safety were highlighted.

Elements of the operation included:

- Inspections of 22 flats above commercial premises identified a number of serious problems with the flats relating to a lack of fire detection, overcrowding, entrapment in the event of a fire, excess cold, electrical hazards and falls. Formal action will now be taken against the landlords concerned to address the issues found.

- Status checked on 35 individuals working and living on Dewsbury Road by Home Office Immigration. Two suspected illegal immigrants were identified for follow up action and two premises are to be revisited with housing officers following intelligence obtained.

- Home fire safety visits carried out by WYFRS at 12 residential flats and 17 businesses. Five premises require follow-up visits with a further three requiring urgent follow-up due to inadequate fire separation between commercial and residential elements and a lack of fire detection linked to the flat above.

- Commercial waste issues were identified at 10 premises, with legal notices for ‘duty of care’ to be served on a further five premises and prosecutions proceedings being instigated against one food premises.

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

“This is another successful example of the value of teams and agencies from across the city and the region working together.

“It is quite concerning that the inspections uncovered such serious issues; overcrowding, electrical hazards, the potential to be trapped in a fire and lack of smoke or fire alarms doesn’t bear thinking about. That others have ignored their responsibilities to deal with waste or immigration rules cannot be tolerated. Various professionals will be following up to ensure action is taken swiftly.

“Health and safety is of the utmost importance for all premises and accommodation in Leeds, and we are firmly committed to taking appropriate measures to prevent anyone breaking the law as well as offering advice and support to keep people safe.”

The operation was delivered by Leeds City Council using government funds earmarked for tackling rogue landlords in the city. £125,000 was awarded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), following a successful joint bid by Leeds City Council and WYFRS to tackle quality and fire safety issues in flats above shops.


For media enquiries please contact:
Leeds City Council press office, 0113 395 0244

Leeds sexual health service providers pass the test

A new way to deliver sexual health provision to people in Leeds will come into play next year, following the award of a new contract by Leeds City Council’s Public Health team.

The changes will see Passionate about Sexual Health (PASH) - a consortium of Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and MESMAC - come together to deliver the new integrated sexual health service. The partnership has been awarded the contract based on a high quality bid informed by their combined experience of sexual health service delivery, knowledge of the particular issues faced by Leeds, and strong commitment to user involvement.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“I am really pleased to see this support will continue to be delivered by the NHS working closely with the third sector in the future. I’m very happy that these organisations can use their wealth of experience and knowledge of the city to continue to deliver the services the city needs. There’s been a lot of consultation and active involvement in the redesign of services with people who use them, as we are really keen to make sure health resources in the city reflect what works for people.”

Sam Prince, Executive Director of Operations, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted PASH has been awarded the contract to provide sexual health services in Leeds. The PASH consortium partnership we have developed is an exciting and innovative way of working which will ensure sexual health services in Leeds are responsive, personalised and confidential.”

Dr Amy Evans, Lead Clinician for Sexual Health at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“We will bring friendly and accessible support to people through our city-centre clinic which will be open six days a week, plus we will provide our help and advice in three clinics located across Leeds. All clinics will offer an evening and weekend provision to our communities. We will also be supporting GPs and pharmacies to offer high quality sexual health services.

“We will offer specialist care for STIs (sexually transmitted infections), HIV and contraception, and provide help and self-testing options from our new website. We look forward to building a service which supports excellent sexual health for all in Leeds.”

Tom Doyle Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC, said,

“PASH is a unique partnership, with the voluntary sector at its heart. PASH harnesses the clinical expertise and community reach of the partners, ensuring that services are tailored to meet the need of our communities at times and venues that are accessible and convenient.”

The current city centre premises will move from their current location as part of the changes and by next summer people wanting a sexual health check or contraception advice will be able to access them in a new, one-stop environment.

Online advice continues to be available at: http://www.leedssexualhealth.com/


Issued by:

Phil Morcom

Communications and Marketing team
Leeds City Council, 4th Floor West, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Mobile: 07891 276270
Tel: 0113 395 0244
Fax: 0113 247 4736

Leeds young citizens fire up local dragons with social action projects

Young people taking part in a national citizenship programme faced some local ‘dragons’ earlier this month, to put their social enterprise ideas to the test.

Leeds City Council’s youth service brought a Dragon’s Den style panel to 109 young people currently taking part in the council’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

The youngsters presented ideas for a social action project to the panel of ‘dragons’, which consisted of city councillors, business and charity professionals. The panel were able to provide the youngsters with useful feedback and offered opportunities to the teams of young people to help their projects become success stories.

Each team of young people prepared a ten minute presentation to introduce their ideas, outline how their project would work and explain what additional assistance they were seeking. The young people were then quizzed by the dragons, who offered the teams further ideas and shared relevant contacts with them.

The setting for the imposing Dragon’s Den event was the commercial office of Begbies Traynor Group in Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children and families said:
“These young people really rose to the challenge by presenting to these ‘dragons’. I’m sure it was an exciting but daunting experience. Getting involved in the National Citizen Service programme helps them build confidence ad allows them to develop useful skills for the future in public speaking, organisation and planning.”

The panel members were especially impressed by the calibre of the teams:
Lee Lockwood, a Director of Begbies Traynor, said: “The young people we met were full of energy, enthusiasm and great ideas, which will see them go on to do great things.”

Councillor Caroline Gruen, support executive member for children and families said: “I was struck by the young people's understanding of the complex relationships, attitude and cultural behaviours presented within a cosmopolitan society...there was a real willingness to tackle important but potentially controversial and challenging issues in the projects they were presenting to us. I left feeling refreshed and thoroughly reassured that our young generation is setting an excellent example of social skills, awareness and tolerance. An example that would put many of us to shame!"

Councillor Roger Harington, deputy executive member for children and families added: “It was very impressive to see the way the young people had worked together to pitch their ideas. Many of the presentations were not just informative but inspiring.”

The young people will now use the feedback they received and to hone their social action project ideas. Each team’s project is due to be completed in the next few weeks.


The Dragon’s Den panel consisted of

Name Role Organisation
Linda HorsburghRegional Delivery PartnerSomewhere to_
Cllr Caroline Gruen Support executive member for children and familiesLeeds City Council
Cllr Roger Harrington Deputy executive member for children and familiesLeeds City Council
Amy Downes Senior Community Life Co-ordinatorASDA
Lee LockwoodDirectorBegbies Traynor Group
Marvina Babs-ApataFounderAngels of Youth

The government sponsored NCS programme (National Citizen Service) is open to all 16 and 17 year olds in the Leeds area and challenges young people to go beyond their comfort zones, to join a team, develop new skills and identify issues of importance to young people and local communities. The four week programme culminates with a social action project designed and delivered by each team of young people and as part of this process, each team of young people was asked to present their ideas for a social action project to a panel of Dragons.

See www.thencsnetwork.org.uk for more information about the NCS.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at Leeds Museums and Galleries

Picture caption: Do not miss out on the chance to meet Father Christmas at Temple Newsam House.

With Christmas just around the corner, Leeds Museums and Galleries have put together a magical festive programme of events and activities not to be missed.

Venues set to open their doors with more than a slice of Christmas cheer and family fun include; Temple Newsam House, Lotherton Hall, Abbey House Museum, Leeds City Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds Industrial Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Discovery Centre and Thwaite Mills Watermill.

An event that needs no introduction is the much loved ‘500 years of Christmas’ at historic Temple Newsam House on the weekend of 13 and 14 December. Visitors can enjoy a Tudor banquet display, Tudor carol karaoke, Jane Austen music, Victorian merry making, carol singers, and a secret wonderland journey to see the one and only Santa Claus! Despite his extremely busy schedule, Santa has also agreed to be at Temple Newsam House from 16-20 December from 1.30pm-4pm to meet with children and hear what they would like to receive for Christmas. On the 21 December from 2pm-4pm, the Leeds Waits will also be holding their annual celebration for the 1622 owner of Temple Newsam House, as part of ‘Sir Arthur Ingram’s Christmas’. Audience participation is essential, in what is a prefect event to get into the festive mood.

Also hosting a special Christmas party this year is Leeds City Museum on Saturday 6 December. A range of sparkling activities and performances will be on offer for people of all ages to enjoy from 11am-3pm.

The fantastic surroundings of Abbey House Museum are always a lovely place to visit throughout the year, and this Christmas, it will also be the home to a very special Santa’s Grotto. Open on a number of dates in the run-up to the big day including Christmas Eve, admission is £4 and includes a present. The Grotto will accompany crafts, music and fun in Abbey House’s Victorian Streets.

Across the road from Abbey House Museum are the picturesque 12th century Cistercian ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, and on Sunday 14 December from 2pm-3pm, The Heritage Singers will return for their popular Christmas concert, where joining in is always a must!

If you have wondered how the Victorians celebrated Christmas, Thwaite Mills Watermill will show you how and also reveal a few secrets on Sunday 7 December from 1pm-3pm at their Victorian family Christmas event. There will be lots of hands on activities throughout the day and the chance to design and decorate your own traditional gingerbread decoration.

If the thought of Christmas shopping on a Saturday fills you with dread, Lotherton Hall have the perfect event to relax and escape the rush on 13 December from 11am-4pm. On offer will be live music, Christmas crafts, children’s entertainment and much more.

This year marks the start of the First World War one hundred years ago, and the Leeds Discovery Centre will be holding a poignant event exploring how Christmas was for those in 1914 on Saturday 13 December from 10am -12noon. Learn more about Princess Mary’s gift boxes for soldiers fighting in the war, and through pieces from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, see the differences between a soldier’s Christmas and one at home.

A range of family art activities will also be on offer from Saturday 20 December -17 January at Leeds Art Gallery, where there will be the chance to find out more about British mythical animals.

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

"Christmas is always a very special time of the year, and once again Leeds Museums and Galleries are offering a fantastic programme of events and activities that are perfect for all the family.

"All of our sites will be providing a wealth of family fun, and if this was not enough, there are a range of fantastic gifts available at our museums and galleries shops, which can also be bought online."

Events at Leeds Museums and Galleries form part of ‘Magical Leeds’ which is providing a variety of brilliant events across the city is this year. To find out more about ‘Magical Leeds’, please see www.magicalleeds.co.uk

If you are still struggling to find the perfect gift for a loved one, don’t worry, help is at hand at Leeds Museums and Galleries. A range of lovely presents at Leeds Museums and Galleries shops are available and can also be discovered online at: www.lmgshoponline.com

For more information on events at Leeds Museum and Galleries, please visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries or follow us on Twitter @LeedsMuseums #MagicalLeeds

Notes to editors:

Further events and activities also scheduled features:

Little Scientists: Flying
Abbey House Museum
Weds 3 Dec, 10am - 12pm & 2pm - 4pm
Under 5's
Join us at Abbey House to explore, create and have lots of science fun. No science knowledge necessary just curiosity!

Christmas Lunch with the Florist
Lotherton Hall
Weds 3 Dec, 11am - 3pm
All/Special event
Enjoy a walk around the estate to collect your foliage, followed by festive soup and sandwiches. Our florist will demonstrate and guide you in making your own Christmas wreath. You will need: a bag for collecting foliage, your own decorations, a warm coat and wellies. Meet at Lotherton Stables Café.

A Christmas Concert with 'NET Village Harmonies'
Lotherton Hall
Sat 6 Dec, 2pm - 3pm
You are invited to an afternoon of festive entertainment performed by a local choir who enjoy singing and having fun! All proceeds will go to NET (Neighbourhood Elders Team).

Edwardian Christmas Crafts
Lotherton Hall
Sun 7 & Sun 21 Dec, 11am - 3pm
Deck the Halls this Christmas; make your own traditional cards and decorations for home.

Garlands Galore
Temple Newsam
Thurs 11 Dec, 10.30am - 3.30pm
Ages 8+/Crafts
Come and build the fresh foliage garlands to decorate the house for Christmas. Mince pies and a cup of tea for all helpers.

12 Monks of Christmas
Kirkstall Abbey
Fri 12 - Sun 14 Dec & Tues 16 - Weds 24, 10am - 3pm
Find our 12 jolly monks of Christmas dotted around the abbey.

Crafty Country House Christmas Cards
Temple Newsam
Sat 20 & Sun 21 Dec, 11am - 12.30 & 1.30pm - 3.30
Make your own Christmas decoration inspired by all things Christmassy at Temple Newsam.

Splat a Sprout
Abbey House Museum
Tues 30, Weds 31 Dec, 10am - 12pm & 2pm - 4pm
Get Christmas out of your system with our silly crafts and activities.

Making Mischief!
Leeds City Museum
Sat 27, Sun 28, Tues 20 Dec, 10am - 12pm & 2pm - 4pm
Lo Saturnalia…The Roman winter festival full of jokes and merriment. Free activities where you can make something to 'trick' your friends!

Now available online! Visit www.lmgshoponline.com for all our special offers and gift ideas.

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