Category Archives: Job creation

Council warned over casino plans.

Rank's Grosvenor division already has 35 casinos but hopes to extend this by adding a large casino in Leeds aswell as the 24 outlets owned by debt-laden rival Gala Coral. Photo:©knowyourleeds

As expectation grows that Leeds will be the only major city to grant a large casino licence after a series of council meetings, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the NHS has warned the council about putting economical gain above resident’s welfare.

Leeds City Council said casinos will bring a “major boost to the leisure, visitor and night-time economies” after the licensing policy was passed through the Executive Board and Scrutiny process.

Large casinos are defined as having a minimum area of 1,000 square meters and up to 150 slot machines with a maximum jackpot of £4,000.

CAB’s response to the licensing consultation said “problem gambling” is highest where casinos are generally built in areas of high deprivation and unemployed with severe money problems.

They highlighted that 16-24 year-olds and people with serious health problems are most at risk. Referring to this government report in 2010, they said: “0.9% of the population in Britain can be defined as problem gamblers, suggesting that in Leeds there may be around 7,000 people who are already problem gamblers.

“If the development of a large casino in Leeds results in an increase in problem gambling of only 0.1% that would mean an additional 800 people becoming problem gamblers with the likely corresponding money problems described above.”

A spokesman for LCC working on the project said in a “post recession environment” casinos could prove a key catalyst in stimulating economic growth.

“Early economic impact assessments estimated that a large casino in Leeds could generate up to 620 new jobs and potential capital expenditure of £25million,” said the spokesperson in a written response to questions knowyourleeds had to send in writing.

“We don’t wish to speculate as to how many applications it may receive, other than to state that, as Leeds is the only core city with powers to grant a licence, it’s anticipating interest from the casino industry.”

Rank Group PLC unsuccessfully challenged the councils right not to award a casino licence if they receive more than more than one application which falls short of their set criteria. Rank – who confirmed today that they’re in talks about taking over Gala Coral –  run 37 casinos across the UK (included 2 casinos in Belgium), generating £238.6m in revenue, under the Grosvenor brand.

Nationwide ‘large casinos’ was given the go-ahead in 2007 in controversial decision by the then Labour government.

The council receives £15,000 a year in fees from the five casino licences in operation across the city. Large licences are worth £10,000 a year for each awarded.

NHS Leeds said the policy doesn’t acknowledge potential negative impacts which a large casino could have. In their response to the consultation, they said:

“People living in areas of deprivation are disproportionately affected by higher levels of income deprivation, employment deprivation, higher rates of ill-health and disability, lower rates of education, skills and training, lack of social housing, high levels of crime and poor living environments.

“Individuals living in areas of deprivation are at much greater risk of negative impacts associated with gambling. Low income is one of the most consistent factors associated with problem gambling worldwide.”

When asked how much the council has spent on the application process, they were unable to provide figures due to “commercially sensitivity”.

“Moneys spent as part of  the process are expected to be significantly outweighed by the financial contributions which may be received,” LCC said.

You can see the responses in the post-consultation report below.

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Councillors hear out plans for incinerator.

In a packed planning meeting, only a handful of councillors directly queired the 25 year incinerator contract. Photo:©knowyourleeds

At the Plans Panel East meeting earlier today, the general message was clear to Veolia.

Under light interrogation, the executives who delivered Veolia’s hour long pre-application planning presentation was told that councillors needed more clarity about the dynamics of the site and the impact of the 75ft chimney to the surrounding area.

“I asked a simple question and they haven’t been able to answer it,” said Coun Michael Lyons (Lab, Temple Newsam). He was adamant throughout the meeting that someone should answer his question.

He wanted someone to explain how the outsourcing of burning household waste on a 25 year contract worth £550m would be cheaper than using a nearby incinerator site run by Biffa.

The site will be 3.3 hectares and 300 metres from the nearest house. Photo:©knowyourleeds

When the environmental impact assessment comes out in April, Veolia will formalise its proposal to take over the former car-boot sale site in Cross Green Market.

Once they’ve submitted their planning permission application, the Plan Panel will decide whether to press ahead. The panel acknowledged they’ll probably extend the usual 16 week turnaround period to come to a conclusion though it looks likely to be passed.

Then the public will have 21 days to have their say before construction begins early next year.

Veolia said 300 jobs would be created for the construction of the 3.3 hectare site. And they’ll need 45 permanent staff when the plant goes into its 24-hour a day operation.

Up to 70 of Veolia’s own dump trucks will bring waste in and out of the plant everyday – the council has around half that many trucks collecting waste – which will pick up the household rubbish we produce directly from bins rather than a central location.

The incinerator will have greenery, cycle routes and a small car-park around the main facility. Veolia’s excutives also talked about a ‘green living wall’ which will have flowers and trees on the side of the buidling. But local residents won’t be able to see it as it only faces the main road, not the houses.

“Can we actually see the photos from the perspective of where the nearest houses will see it?” said Coun Peter Gruen (Lab, Cross Gates and Whinmoor). The nearest home is 300 meters away from the north side of the proposed incinerator.

Coun Ralph Pryke (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill), voted for the incinerator when the council was in a Lib Dem – Conservative coalition. But he had evidently done his homework asking considered questions.

“In all the documentation I have seen,” said Coun Pryke, “I’ve not seen anything about any payment for the site. Is Veolia paying rent to LCC for use of this site, or are you buying it from the council, or is it in effect free land and that’s why you’ve chosen to build your facility here?”

Veolia said they'll be no smell and minimal amount of chemicals released into the atmosphere as everything is treated in-house. Photo:©knowyourleeds/veolia

John O’Sullivan, Project Director at Veolia said: “Because the facility is essentially paid for by the council, in discussion with the council’s procurement process, it seemed circular, shall we say, for us to pay for the site that in the end we would have to recover that money back from the council.”

Veolia have consistently pointed out that 200,000 tonnes of black-bin waste in Leeds currently goes to landfill and is financially and environmentally unsustainable.

Councillors now have to weigh up how this controversial plant affects residents against the commercial imperatives of burning waste.

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Can Leeds’ creative industries flourish with local TV?

All six bidders are subject to a beauty parade for DCMS and Ofcom although not all their indenties are known. Photo: ©knowyourleeds

Timi Korus’s musical career is on hold. The executive director at online TV station Leeds TV told knowyourleeds he has to concentrate on one thing: local television.

As one of 20 “pioneer” cities, the government’s next ‘big society’ project will come to Leeds later this year when licences for local TV stations are awarded in the summer.

“The government proposals will take local TV to the next level,” said Timi, “we’ve got lots of companies producing documentaries, dramas, all types of shows in Leeds, but this type of industry will create opportunities around the community it serves.

“So many people don’t know about what’s going on in Leeds, so want to give it exposure and tell people what this city is all about.”

But television is expensive. And it’s been widely commented on that local TV won’t be technically or financially viable.

To help get the scheme going, the BBC will hand over £40m from the Licence Fee towards the project. Up to £25m will pay for infrastructure and hardware. The rest will go towards buying stories from the local stations.

Timi said his proposal to the Department of Culture and Media and Sport is based under the message of “one Leeds, one city”.

“I want all the creative industries in Leeds working together so content will come from lots of organisations. If we just run repeats, people will tire of local TV. We won’t just be covering local news and maybe one other show because it’ll sink,” said Timi.

Timi wants all creative industries to contribute towards a local station.

“If Yorkshire Post and YEP are already covering local news, it makes no sense for Leeds TV to start doing the same thing and be a rival does it? It’ll be a waste of resources and a waste of money we could have invested somewhere else. So why don’t we try to do something different and make this work?”

He hopes by giving students opportunities and pooling Leeds’ creative industries together will offset the concerns that local TV alone cannot compete with the ITV/BBC.

What’s more of a concern is how much local advertising a local station can pick up when revenues are sharply down for the regional newspapers and commercial radio.

As Leeds Citizen blogged, Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post receive a bulk of their advertising revenue from the £250,000 which LCC uses to advertise council notices. He’s quick to counter that the Leeds station will also cover Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield too.

“It’s quite expensive for businesses to advertise on mainstream television,” said Timi, “but on a local level it’s going to be far cheaper. Google can’t take every advertiser away from the media.

“There’s lots of opportunities to advertise directly to the community to the people who actually need it.”

Would be broadcasters for Leeds’ TV station are on a ‘beauty contest’, where they showcase themselves to DCMS and Ofcom who will only grant one licence per location.

As one of six bidders, Timi’s not alone. And as the decision time gets closer there will be questions about who should receive local TV licences and how equipped they’ll be to play a positive democratic role.

Although media companies have expressed interest in collaborating with other bidders, Timi said while he’s spoken with the Yorkshire Post, nothing is decided.

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What is high-speed rail worth to Leeds?

The green light for HS2 to Leeds looks increasingly likely, but more than 70 groups across the UK oppose it. Photo: ©knowyourleeds

The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it, writer Chesterton once said. And there’s one train all politicians are desperate to board, the second incarnation of high-speed rail (HS2).

These super-fast trains – capable of 200mph – on a Y-shaped route will link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds to a new rail network at a headline grabbing cost of £32.7bn by 2032.

Although you may not need to wait 20 years for a glimpse of how our local infrastructure will look like. Developments are already underway.

While electrification of existing rail lines towards York, Manchester and Bradford are under discussion, two new railway stations have been rubber stamped: Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge, the former of which, Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves campaigned for.

“I think high-speed rail could make a real difference to regeneration,” Rachel Reeves told knowyourleeds shortly before last week’s announcement.

“Obviously it will create jobs during the construction of it, but I think it will make cities like Leeds and Manchester and Newcastle, and potentially Glasgow and Edinburgh, closer to export markets and could give us a real kick start.”

Professor Chris Nash of Leeds University acted as a consultant on Network Rail’s New Lines study. He examined plans on how to deal with chronic congestion on Britain’s rail lines. The findings lead to the drawing up of HS2.

“Arguably getting it to Leeds is more important than getting it Birmingham,” said Professor Nash.

Dependent on final acceptance of the plans in 2014, the Leeds link to HS2 won’t be in operation until six years after Birmingham.

“Assuming it comes to Leeds and goes on the join the EastCoast line to York, it’ll funnel traffic from Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh onto the faster services. The time savings for Leeds will be much bigger than for Birmingham.

“The potential benefits for the Leeds link are very high and probably pursued as quickly as possible as part of the plan,” he said.

Opponents to HS2 have said it’ll create more jobs in London than Birmingham, have challenged the evidence used to support the case and questioned environmental impact and need for a ministerial vanity project at such a huge financial cost when money is scare.

Metro say Leeds has to be "high-speed ready". Photo: ©knowyourleeds

“Even now, because that decision has made about high-speed rail going to Birmingham, then onto Leeds, will influence businesses in terms of where they make investment decisions,” said WY Metro spokesman Martin Driver.

Although there are new stations being built, there is more in the pipeline. A decision on funding the trolleybus scheme – rejected before Christmas because the government wanted additional assurances on cost-ratio estimates – will be given in March.

Negotiations to introduce a London style Oyster card are proving complex, according to Martin, but it’s not out of the picture.

“Leeds has to be ready for the high-speed rail. It’s no good people coming up here and then having to chug across to Halifax on a 30 year-old train. What you’ve got to do is come here and be able to use fast, modern local transport,” said Martin.

“It’s a positive time but I guess we would always want more. We want to grow the economy and improve environmental and social inclusions; transport underpins it.”

Can the HS2 really help kick-start Leeds economy, and if so, why do we have to wait a full six years after Birmingham for it?

Knowyoursleeds decided to investigate. In this audioboo feature, we’ve spoken to Conservative MP for Pudsey and Horsforth, Stuart Andrew who defends the plan and thinks it’ll be money well spent. But we discover that Professor Nash’s isn’t as optimystic on the economic benefits and of HS2. In addition to hearing what local commuters at Leeds station think about the plans, WY Metro chairman and Coun James Lewis (Lab, Kippax and Methley), tell us what he’s pushing for in the council’s chambers.

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Final say on Leeds Incinerator?

Veolia will enter a 25 year contract next month to dispose of household waste. Photo©knowyourleeds

Veolia looks set to enter into a 25 year contract with Leeds City Council next month to burn Leeds’ household waste. With a £68.6 million Private Finance Initiative buffer, its estimated value is £550 million.

The proposal for the incinerator based at the old car boot sale site in Cross Green Market wasn’t the biggest. But the capacity to burn 180,000 tonnes-a-year meets the council’s requirements.

As head of east Leeds community activist group COVEN, Sarah Covell is angry that councillors and Veolia haven’t done enough to address the resident’s concerns over the plans.

“They’re saying it’s a landmark building. It is. I doubt don’t that for a second. It’s a very beautiful building. It’s just in the wrong place with the wrong things inside it.”

Artist impression of new multi-million pound incinerator

She’s dismayed that a lack of political pluckiness can dismiss widespread concerns, even when something is opposed so openly.

A group of Labour councillors walked out of a vote last November which recommended the incinerator.

“It’s called predetermination,” said one of the absentees, Coun Ron Grahame (Lab, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill). “Predetermination just takes me out of reckoning altogether.

“I’m not allowed to predetermine the situation for the incinerator prior to it coming to the East Leeds plan meeting. That’s why I walked out. I didn’t give in to myself whatsoever.”

It also took Labour councillors: Mick Lyons (Temple Newsam), Katherine Mitchell (Temple Newsam) and Asghar Khan (Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) out of the reckoning.

According to the YEP, landfill taxes would cost the council £16m a year by 2013. “If we don’t deliver on the timescale mapped out we will put this council is financial jeopardy,” said Coun Mark Dobson (Lab: Garforth and Swillington), the council’s executive member for environmental services, reported the YEP.

“It’s definitely in the wrong site. It should have gone to the Aire Valley where it belongs,” said coun Grahame to knowyourleeds.

Councillors across the political spectrum have expressed concerns over incinerator plans. Coun David Blackburn (Greens, Farnley and Wortley) said at the time: “To go for incineration is the worst decision the council has made for years.”

While Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) blogged: “Since taking power 18 months ago, the Labour Party have been very quiet on their waste policy. I assumed they were working hard on an alternative. Imagine my surprise that their alternative to an incinerator is…an incinerator!”

The proposed facility will create up to 300 jobs during the three-year construction period say Veolia and 45 permanent jobs.

“It’s not local people from East End Park who get the jobs. It’s not just we don’t want this in our ward. We want them [LCC] to look at other methods of residual waste disposal,” said Sarah Covell.

Critics say more recycling options needs to be evaluated. Photo©knowyourleeds

“Somethings gone wrong somewhere,” said Coun Grahame, “the incinerator itself is totally in the wrong place. When they tell you there’s 200 other sites to look at, you look at 200 sites and you think, well it comes down to an old car boot sale site (Cross Green Market) then there’s something not really right.”

Despite these criticisms, Veolia looks set to win the battle. But that’s old news.

The proposals for the incinerator began in 2006 but this week the proposal are open to public scrutiny for the last time.

First stop: Richmond Hill on Thursday, next St Philip’s Church on Friday before finished at 8.30pm, Saturday at Halton Moor Community Centre.

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Leeds’ Youth Debt

Unemployment rates at a 17 high while youth unemployment is at the highest since records began. Photo:©knowyourleeds

There was a sobering moment last week for us all. Government figures revealed that over a million young people are out of work, education or training.

Speaking in Leeds last week, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that £1 billion of taxpayers’ money will be given to employers in a bid to drive down the spiraling jobless numbers among the young.

The government said employers will be given £2,275 for each worker they take on in the next three years, meaning they’ll effectively be subsidising work and training placement schemes.

With the country in the middle of a what could turn out to be a decade long slump, employers can afford to be picky and choose from those with the most experience.

It’s not just ‘neets’ (not in education, employment, or training) to use the political parlance, who find themselves in an ever-increasing competitive job market. They also have to compete with the more experience job seekers as people from all sectors across country are vying for scarce jobs with companies continuing to make redundancies and tighten their belts.

Leeds West MP and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, told knowyourleeds that the scale of the problem isn’t as simple as giving people jobs.

“I think that the outlook is probably the toughest outlook that young people are faced with,” she said.

“Whether they’re leaving school, college or university in the last few years, 22% of young people are out of work. In the constituency that I represent, Leeds West, the numbers are much higher than that. Long term youth unemployment has gone up by around 80% since the start of the year. That’s the scale of the problem.”

In Leeds city center, jobseekers knowyourleeds spoke to said the main problem was that employers aren’t hiring them because they lack one vital attribute on their CV: experience.

You can here what jobseekers had to say in the Audioboo below.

Employers aren’t hiring because they want people who have worked before. Businesses aren’t to blame. But is the government right and are these proposal right for Leeds’ young people?

As an economist before she became Leeds’ only female MP in last years election, Rachel Reeves said that people with high qualifications are taking jobs that would’ve traditionally have gone to people fresh out of school.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves studied at the London School of Economics. Photo: ©rachelreeves.net

A mixture of graduates, school and college leavers in the job market with their more experienced elders has created a “crazy” situation she said.

“Everyone is applying for the same jobs, irrespective of their qualifications,” she said.

“This year was the best for GCSE and ‘A’ Level results. Yet youth unemployment has not been higher for 20 years.”

Rachel Reeves unsurprisingly believes the priority should be to make sure that young people leaving school and college get an opportunity to contribute and put something back in the economy.

“It just seems a huge waste, a criminal waste really, of the talents and skills of young people who we’re not harnessing and that we’re letting them languish on benefits. They could be contributing, paying taxes and making a difference, especially at the start of their working lives when it so important to get into the habit and learn those skills of work.”

 

What do you think? Are businesses to blame? Should the government be doing more for entrepreneurs?

Have your say in the comments section or as usual tweet @knowyourleeds



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