Monday, 21 March 2011

Police Warning - Regarding the Census

Police Reminder To Check For ID
Monday, 21 March, 2011

Police are reminding residents to check for identification when officials visit homes in the region as part of the forthcoming 2011 Census process.

The actual Census day is Sunday 27th March, however, the field operation will run from March to mid-August and census field staff will be taking to the streets to offer assistance and collect questionnaires from residential households and communal establishments across West Yorkshire. Every household in West Yorkshire will have to complete a census form.

Members of the public should remember that:

Residents who return their completed questionnaires promptly (before 6th April) will not be contacted by the census field staff

All census staff will carry an ID card with photo, logo and hologram and should automatically show their ID and explain who they are They may ask for name and number of residents, but they will not ask for specific details (like credit card details, bank accounts etc)

Census staff should never enter the household unless they are invited and they may also need to make several visits to the same address to ensure a questionnaire is returned.

Residents will not be asked to leave their questionnaire on the doorstep for collection

Residents can request a pre-arranged appointment with a collector via the census helpline number – 0300 0201 101

Additional information/assistance can also be found on the census website
For people who live in communal establishments such as care homes, hotels, and halls of residence will have their questionnaires hand delivered as well as Gypsy and Traveller sites, caravans parks and marinas. A dedicated member of the Census staff will speak with the manager of the complex and agree a date and time to pick-up completed questionnaires. They will not necessarily speak with residents.

West Yorkshire Police are encouraging residents to be alert when dealing with callers at the door.

Chris Joyce, Force Crime Reduction Officer said: "It is a sad fact of life that some people will impersonate others to commit a criminal offence, so it is extremely important that members of the public remember to satisfy themselves that callers at their home are genuine and who they say they are.

"Most callers at your door will be genuine, but it is vital that you thoroughly check their identity before giving them any personal details or allowing them access to your property’

"The Census Team has ensured that their staff follows good practice when calling at residential properties. However, if you are in any doubt whatsoever about the identity of anyone who calls at your home, do not let them in, turn them away and then alert the Police if you are suspicious of their intentions."

Anyone who would like additional information about the 2011 Census process should ring the Census Helpline on 0300 0201 101 or visit

Monday, 14 March 2011

COVEN, Cllr Adam Ogilvie and the Richmond Hill Library

Copyright COVEN 2011
Following advice from one of our local Councillors COVEN asked to see Cllr Adam Ogilvie to talk to him about the importance of an accessible local library to our area.  He offered to meet us at the Civic Hall and 3 members of our group went along to talk to him on Friday 11 March 2011.

He first explained that due to government spending cuts the council as a whole had to make unpleasant decisions and his department alone had to find savings of £3,000,000.  When looking around for the best way to achieve this it was noted that some local libraries had become under used, very run down and would be difficult and expensive to refurbish but cuts had to be made in this area and that is why the consultation had begun to find out what residents thought.

We raised with him our concerns about, amongst other things, the quality of the consultation which we felt did not make it sufficiently plain that cuts were planned.  It appeared, certainly at first, as if we were being offered mobile library provision and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was as well as, and not instead, of a permanent library.  Cllr Ogilvie agreed that others has raised similar concerns about the quality and clarity of the consultation and took our points on board.

Next we raised the fact that though our library is only open 17 hours per week use is not consistent over that period.  We suggested perhaps targeting the opening hours to times of high usage might be more efficient and would allow for some reduction in hours without removing a permanent library from the area.

The actual building itself is a real problem.  We do not have a real library, only 1 room in a sports hall, it is extremely cramped and only available when the hall is not in use.  The library is very difficult to find and has no spare space were exhibitions or events could be held.  We feel that this is certainly one of the factors holding back its development.  It has been suggested, we understand, that space could be made available in either the refurbished Richmond Hill Community Centre for the computers - which would be available for all not just library patrons - or that a community space, including a library, might be incorporated into the Richmond Hill Primary School development.  We certainly think that both these ideas as worthy of serious consideration.

We stressed to him that there is a real need in this area not only for the facilities that a permanent building could provide in terms of computer access and books but also the valuable resource a library building here could be.  We would like to set up book clubs to encourage both parents and children to try new books, to explore reading or researching into items local groups across the city could bring to the library, as happens elsewhere in the city, this is especially important in an area like ours were educational attainment is below the city average but at the moment there is simply not the physical space for such ideas to by tried out.

Our area is poorly resourced in many ways, and though we know some other areas of the city are similarly disadvantaged our large number of constantly fluctuating residents makes a meeting space a real necessity.  With the schools here getting more and more crowded and home Internet access less common in this area than some other parts of the city it would meet many needs on many levels.

We can see that some residents, particularly the elderly or infirm, might really benefit from a mobile library service which comes to them given the difficulty of reaching the present library but if the opening hours of the library were more strictly targeted to the busiest times we feel that the unused library time could be provided by targeted mobile libraries in specific areas.

Cllr Ogilvie listened to our representations and confirmed that no final decision has yet been taken.  He promised to feed our concerns back to his committee and we will keep you informed of any developments as we hear about them.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

View from the Richmond Hill Forum

The meeting opened with Cllr Pryke (chair) stating that there had been complaints from [unnamed] people and council officers about the increasingly political nature of recent meetings, [said] they were refusing to come to future meetings if this continued. The meeting then began with Matters Arising but since most of the items in the last minutes were again on the agenda we moved on to the first item without the minutes being accepted as a true record as far as we could tell.

PACT Neighbourhood Policing Team

Sgt Coultate from the Burmantofts & Richmond Hill NPT team explained the general strategy for dealing with criminal activity in our area. He asked particularly that anyone noticing any kind of criminal activity report it to the police since the more documented reports of particular incidents they had on record the easier it was to tackle some problems. He took questions from the floor but was restricted in how much detail he could give regarding ongoing police action, though he mentioned burglaries in the Osmondthorpe, East End Park and Halton Moor areas linked to specific addresses which the police were aware of and were dealing with. In the end it was agreed to keep all the police priorities for our area the same. You can view these here.

Aire Valley Area Action Plan Consultation

Next up were the people from the AVAAP who had brought a smallish map and some leaflets to explain the plan for the regeneration (their word, not ours) for this area. Here is a copy of the leaflet including a map which we found worse than useless for working out what is going on.

The main problem with this presentation was it was all “hope”, “wish”, and “would like” there was nothing concrete about any of the proposals, it was all very aspirational but like the EASEL proposal that preceded it, it is long on rhetoric and vague promises but woefully short on concrete targets or achievements.

Residents raised the point that the land earmarked in this area for both housing and employment use is considered contaminated by previous industrial use and wondered if it would even be suitable for re-use especially for housing without extensive work, they also stated that they had serious doubts that businesses would be queuing up to locate next to not 1 but possibly 2 incinerators let alone home-owners.

A further cause for concern was the lack of nursery and school provision in the area now for existing children without the proposed influx if these development plans went ahead but again it was “hoped” that this project would fund the necessary infrastructure but again - no promises. When asked if this area was going to be included in the list of 10 Enterprise Areas proposed by the government we were again told that they “hoped so”.

Strong concerns were also raised about the lack of any public transport infrastructure in the proposed development area - how would people from our area access jobs there if they didn’t have access to a car, again wishes” but no concrete plan.

The feeling of the meeting was clearly ”come back and talk to us when these aspirations have become concrete proposals with firm start and finish dates until then well we’ve heard it all before”.

Sarah Covell, our elected representative on the IEAC, asked for the figures on the costs so far on the EASEL project in our area and this new AVAAP plan to be available at the next RHF meeting Cllr Pryke said he would ask but did not know if they would be available, if not a FOI request will be placed to get this information.

Concerns regarding health outcomes in our area now were raised, together with the possible added impact of 1 or even 2 incinerators and led on to the next item on the agenda

Waste Treatment Facility update

The Waste management team tried to answer some of the concerns of residents, as did a representative of the Environment Agency and the Planning department of LCC. We think it is fair to say though that there was no meeting of minds on the safety, advisability or necessity of this project. We were told that the main cause of pollution in our area is the York Road [you will remember that the Inner East Link Road has just opened in our area – great that will be a big help with air quality!]. Though the EA will monitor air quality in our area, and if they think the project would raise emissions above presently accepted safe levels they could refuse a permit. However we do not know how they would assess the effect of so many projects coming into the area at once, 2 incinerators with the associated traffic together with the added extra traffic generated by the proposed warehousing and housing developments in the area is bound to have a substantial effect.

It was clear from what was said at the meeting last night that the PFI Incinerator plan is still going full steam ahead though the winning bidder looks like being announced in the autumn of this year and not the summer as was previously stated. We were informed that a robust challenge has been made to one of the bidders, Veolia ES Aurora Ltd, because of serious concerns regarding their safety record globally and because of their association with the Israeli state in occupied Palestine which has caused UN and international condemnation of the company. We were told that this matter has been referred for legal oversight but we will keep you informed of any further information. With masterly planning the next item on the agenda was

NHS – Leeds Lung Cancer Campaign
It appears that this area has 10% higher rates of lung cancer in relations to other parts of the city and a team from the NHS have won funding for a scheme called three week cough in the area where anyone who has had
  • cough for more than three weeks
  • Suffers from breathlessness
  • Chest pain (unrelated to heart conditions)
can self-refer to 1 of 2 centres for a chest X-ray without going to their own doctor first. Since early diagnosis significantly increases the chances of a positive outcome for patients it is particularly important to get this done as soon as any  concerns
arise and special procedures have been put in place at these centres so that you simply walk in and explain your symptoms to get an X-ray.

Residents were keen to find out the most up to date figures on lung cancer and respiratory illnesses rates, especially childhood asthma, in our area compared to the rest of the city and asked for them to be supplied at the next meeting.

Area Issues:

Selective Licensing

There was a short report from the head of Selective Licensing, Robin Oliver, but it was difficult to hear what he said and it seemed to shed no new light of the process. Residents of the SL area are though, by and large, pleased with the way this has addressed some of the issues in their area though there are major concerns about some of the houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and the problems of unauthorised conversions of both homes and shops in the area. Sgt Coultate did suggest that Sarah Covell, in her position as IEAC representative should have a seat on this panel though Sarah declined due to pressure of other commitments.

East North East Homes

The officer from ENEHL gave a short report on the area he covered and the new measures to be put in place to deal with inter-agency co-operation regarding anti-social behaviour in his area. The police were asked by a resident why they did not intervene in a dispute between two neighbours if they were both home owners but referred complainant to the civil courts, Sgt Coultate said if this was referring to a specific issue he would be happy to speak to the resident after the meeting.

Sarah Covell, IEAC representative, gave a short report on the last meeting of that committee touching on the new Locality Manager who will be helping to implement these changes, which should in theory at least, mean that residents in our area will have more control over the quality and delivery of local services to our community.

She further informed the meeting of plans by Metro to bring in a Quality Bus Contract which would regulate fares, routes and ticketing across the whole area leading to an Oyster type card which could be used across the whole transport system in the city and drive up standards the of public transport.


Cllr Pryke returned to a matter that had been discussed briefly in the PACT part of the meeting. Travellers on a site in Leeds, who have been moved 6 times this year already, were due to be moved on again and Cllr Pryke was anxious that anyone seeing someone trying to gain unauthorised access to vacant land should immediately report it to the police and all incidents of anti-social behaviour/crime in that area, regardless of who is involved, should also be logged with the police even if this meant multiple reports of the same incident.

By now time was running out and in any other business Cllr Pryke told the meeting that the Angel Housing Group had lost the contract for housing asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their status and other tenants placed in the area by government agencies which would result in these people having to move out of the area but also meant that a large number of properties were now appearing on the market and there was great uncertainty about who would end up owning them.

Concerns were raised by C O V E N with both councillors and council officers that the promised temporary roof on the Old York Road Library was inadequate and did not meet the requirements set out in Schedule 1, it is understood that further inspection of this work will now be carried out and another report will be made to the next forum.

By now the meeting had run well over time and it was closed without giving the location, date and time of the next meeting which we will pass on as soon as it is available.