Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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Leeds – Tenants whose homes are potentially suitable for free solar panels are being contacted this week.

Leeds City Council is installing the energy generating kit on 1,000 council properties this year.

Council tenants will be able to use as much of the free electricity as they want during the daytime, cutting their energy bills and helping to reduce the city’s emissions.

Initial surveys have identified properties that might be suitable for solar panels and those tenants are being contacted this week to let them know they could benefit and the next steps in the project.

solar_panels_on_houseCouncillor Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:

“About a third of Leeds’ carbon emissions come from the energy we use at home, so it makes perfect sense to help tenants save money and reduce their environmental impact.

“Many other people and businesses are already reaping the environmental and financial benefits of solar panels so this is another step to becoming a more sustainable city.”

Councillor Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said:

“This is a significant investment in our housing stock that will benefit our tenants for years to come.

“Some people might think there is a catch but we can reassure them that there isn’t. We’ll be carrying out the work at no cost to tenants and they can use the electricity the panels make for free. It’s a win-win project for tenants and the city.”

Letters sent to tenants this week advise that a more detailed survey will be carried out by Better Homes Yorkshire. An assessor will check the size and angle of each roof, which way it faces and if it’s overshadowed by trees or other buildings.

If deemed suitable, solar panels will be installed. Tenants will need to sign a tenancy variation to agree to have the panels installed.

Any electricity tenants don’t use will be sold back to the national grid as part of the Government feed-in tariffs. After an initial outlay of £3.8 million, the solar panels will make the council around £6.4 million over 20 years, and tenants could also save around £4.4 million in electricity costs over the same period, working out at around £136 a year for each tenant.

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Leeds – Join the cycling revolution in Leeds as Sky Ride returns for its third year bringing thousands of cyclists and spectators to a traffic free city centre.

The free family friendly mass-participation bike ride takes place on Sunday 14 June 10am – 3pm. Registration is now open at www.goskyride.com/leedsskyride and people are being encouraged to sign up fast as places are filling up.

9244455965_f930547c13_oPrevious years have proved to be very successful attracting more than 8,500 people of all ages and abilities, with many more lining the streets to cheer along friends, relatives and loved ones.

For those not jumping on a bike there is plenty to get involved with thanks to the return of the “Tricks and Tunes” area featuring top DJs as well as pro BMX and mountain bikers performing jaw-dropping stunts not for the faint-hearted.

The 6.5km route of this year’s Sky Ride has been revealed today. Riders can look forward to starting from the same point, on The Headrow, as cycling legends during last summer’s “Grandest of Grand Départs”. They will also pass iconic city landmarks from Leeds University to the town hall and First Direct Arena.

Riders can challenge family and friends in the Sprint Zone, experience the sensory tunnel and find out more about cycling opportunities in Leeds. Bike experts at Halfords are offering a free bike safety check to everyone who registers and will be on hand to help out with any last minute problems.

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

“Sky Ride has been a massive success in Leeds so we’re delighted to be welcoming it back for its third year. Building on the success of the Grand Départ and the soon to take place Tour de Yorkshire finale at Roundhay Park we’re confident this year will be better than ever.

Sky Ride map
Sky Ride map

“Leeds is a keen cycling city, we continue to invest in cycle-ways across the city and have more people than ever before inspired to get out on their bikes. I myself only started riding a few years ago and Sky Ride has been a brilliant experience for me so it would be great to see even more people come out and join me this year.

“Sky Ride is fantastic fun and probably your only chance to enjoy riding the city centre free from traffic. The festival atmosphere last year was great so even if you’re not getting on your bike there are loads of fun activities to get involved with.”

The event is one of 15 to be held nationally and is part of a continuing partnership between Leeds City Council, British Cycling, Sky and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority which aims to encourage more people to get cycling.

Since the partnership was first formed, the number of cyclists jumping on their bikes in Leeds once a week has increased by more than 57 per cent.

Sky Ride Ambassador and six-time Olympic Champion Sir Chris Hoy said:

“We want more people to enjoy riding a bike – that’s why British Cycling and Sky have teamed up to bring you Sky Ride. We’ve made it easier than ever to get out on your bike and spend quality time with your family and friends.

“Sky Rides close big towns and cities for big bike events so you can ride safely on traffic-free streets, with a huge festival atmosphere and loads to do both on and off the bike. They are good fun and a great way to get on your bike.”

In addition to the mass-participation Sky Ride event, a series of free, fun, guided Sky Ride Local and women-only Breeze bike rides will also be taking place around Leeds this summer for cyclists of all abilities.

For more information on Sky Ride Local, Breeze and to register for Sky Ride Leeds go to www.goskyride.com/leedsskyride.

 

Leeds – A new campaign to encourage little changes to make a big difference to later lives is being launched by Leeds City Council. The oral health campaign will encourage families to look after the oral health of children with the aim of reducing a wide range of health problems which could face them in later life.

Tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England, but it is largely preventable. Leeds is targeting areas with highest amount of tooth decay in children to get smiles brighter. There are stark regional differences in oral health, with one in five of five-year olds with tooth decay in South East England contrasting with one in three in Yorkshire and the Humber, but there are even greater inequalities within local authority areas, including Leeds.

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

“We know there are huge differences in oral health across the UK, but this is matched with big differences across Leeds. I’m determined that people in Leeds get a chance to live healthy lives, and providing good advice and information is a key way in which we can do this.

4-kids-smiling1“We are committed to targeting our resources where they will make the most difference and help the people with the worst health make improvements. I hope everyone will keep an eye open for this campaign and take notice of the messages – it isn’t just the campaign we want to have real teeth – it’s young people as they grow older!”

Although children’s oral health has improved over the past 20 years, almost a third of five year old still had tooth decay in 2012, and it was the most common reason for hospital admissions in children aged five to nine years in 2012 to 2013.

Steph Jorysz, Leeds City Council, Advanced Health Improvement Specialist, said:

“It’s important to look after child’s teeth so they not only have healthy teeth now, but also when they are older. You should also start taking your child to visit the dentist when they get their first tooth.

“Having regular visits to the dentist and making sure everyone in the family brushes for two minutes, twice a day will make a real difference – something to put a smile on everyone’s face!”

Poor oral health can affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with other children. Poor oral health can also cause pain, infections, and impaired nutrition and growth.

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Leeds – Leeds could play host to another major international sporting event next year as the city is being considered to stage a round of the prestigious ITU World Triathlon Series.

If successful it would give Leeds’-own triathlon superstars Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee the chance to compete in front of packed crowds and in an atmosphere similar to the unforgettable Tour de France Grand Départ in the city last summer.

Being chosen would see Leeds join other major international cities such as Cape Town, Auckland, Gold Coast, Yokohama, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Stockholm, Hamburg and Edmonton which are all hosting International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Series races this season, with each race broadcast live around the world and attracting big crowds and significant media coverage.

Leeds' triathlon stars (l-r) Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee (shown here in Leeds celebrating their Olympics success) could be taking on the world's best in their home city next year
Leeds’ triathlon stars (l-r) Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee (shown here in Leeds celebrating their Olympics success) could be taking on the world’s best in their home city next year

National governing body British Triathlon selected the Leeds bid which has been led by Leeds City Council with support from Sport Leeds, Welcome to Yorkshire and other key stakeholders. Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and bronze medallist at London 2012 Jonathan Brownlee have advised on a potential race route in the city, which could see the Leeds-based brothers compete in front of a home crowd in one of the final races before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Olympic Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee said:

“The ITU World Triathlon Series is about delivering world-class racing in iconic locations and Leeds will guarantee to do just that. I am sure that spectators will line the route and the city centre will be full of fans cheering on the athletes as we cross the finish line.

“The Tour de France Grand Départ 2014 demonstrated how much the people of Leeds and Yorkshire love sport, and the opportunity for not just myself but also for athletes from around the world to race in front of crowds like that will create an unforgettable event. It will create a platform to inspire the local community to get involved in the sport and continue the proud triathlon tradition within Yorkshire.”

The event in Leeds would see Olympic-distance elite men’s and women’s triathlon races start with a 1500m swim in Roundhay Park, before making the transition onto a 40kilometre bike route into the city centre where they would complete a number of circuits before finishing with a 10km run through the heart of Leeds in front of possible crowds in excess of 40,000 spectators lining the free-to-view route.

The event would be supported by a mass-participation event which it is hoped would attract thousands of entries from people keen to take part in one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK.

Similar to the Grand Départ, the council would look to involve local schools, communities and stakeholders in developing a programme of cultural events and activities in the build up to and around the event weekend for everyone to get involved. There would also be the possibility for volunteers to help run the event.

The calendar of ITU World Triathlon Series events for 2016 is expected to be announced by the ITU in May, and Leeds City Council’s executive board at its meeting on 22 April will be asked to fully endorse the bid and the preparations which would be required in the event of the bid being successful.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“Following on from the success of our local athletes at London 2012 and the amazing Tour de France Grand Départ, Leeds and Yorkshire is now well and truly on the international sporting map and hosting a round of the ITU World Triathlon Series would be another fantastic world-class event to showcase our city and county live around the globe.

“I’m sure thousands of people would come out to watch the world’s best triathletes in action, and of course the possibility of seeing Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee race in their home city for free in front of a passionate Leeds and Yorkshire crowd would be something very special to see and experience in terms of an incredible atmosphere similar to the Tour de France. And with the mass-participation element and cultural events and activities like the Grand Départ it would be something everyone could get involved with. We are just waiting to hear with fingers crossed now if we have been successful.”

A leg of the series has previously been held in the UK since 2009 in London’s Hyde Park (except 2012 when it was the Olympic venue), but Leeds has now been put forward by British Triathlon as the preferred city to take over hosting a British round for an initial three years.

British Triathlon Director for Major and National Events Jon Ridgeon added:

“British Triathlon has selected Leeds to host a leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series following a UK-wide candidate city selection process. The selection process sought to identify the best possible option available to ensure that British Triathlon continues to host an annual leg of the series, which acts as a stunning shop window for the sport.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring the ITU World Triathlon Series to Leeds, which is a city with a great passion for triathlon and an equal ambition to make the event a huge success.”

If the bid is successful, staging the event would be a further major coup for Leeds, attracting another international sporting event with a global profile to follow on from the success of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ plus hosting matches in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, the new Tour de Yorkshire cycle race and Rugby World Cup matches being held in the city later this year.

It would also continue the strong sporting legacy in Leeds from London 2012 and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and would further endorse Leeds as a triathlon city as it is home to one of British Triathlon’s World Class Performance Centres at Leeds Beckett University.

The bid fits with the council’s ambitions to make Leeds the most active city in the UK, encouraging people to not only take up triathlon but the component elements of swimming, cycling and running and lead healthier lifestyles. It also matches the council’s focus on making more use of Leeds city centre for major events to raise the profile of the city and boost the local economy.

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

“Bidding to host a leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Leeds is a perfect fit for our aims and ambitions as a council and city as it would not only bring major benefits in terms of the economy and profile-raising, it would be ideal to help encourage people to get fitter and lead healthier lifestyles.

“Triathlon is an amazing sport and more and more people are taking it up, partly because of the influence of the incredible Brownlee brothers who are fantastic role models and ambassadors for Leeds. But also because it is made up of three elements – swim, bike and run – so even focusing on just one of those is a great way of getting fit.”

If Leeds is successful the cost of hosting the event each year is expected to be £230,000, but it would be expected to generate economic benefit to the city from visitors coming to watch the race and increased tourism from being seen around the world as with the Tour de France.

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Leeds – Visitors can once again experience the magic of one of Leeds and Yorkshire’s most popular visitor attractions, after Tropical World reopened its doors to the public following an exciting refurbishment programme.

Cllr Mark Dobson inspects a new water feature set in the design of a ruined Aztec temple
Cllr Mark Dobson inspects a new water feature set in the design of a ruined Aztec temple

Home to a wide range of animals from butterflies, birds, fish, reptiles, meerkats and nocturnal monkeys to bearded dragons and bats, Tropical World has now also welcomed a host of new arrivals to its ranks following the revamp. On offer includes an octopus, seahorses, stingray, dart frogs, Asian Tigerfish and a red bellied piranha that sit aside other improvements such as the introduction of a fantastic new aquarium, a new toilet block with changing facilities, rainforest themed mosaics and environmentally friendly electrical and heating improvements. After experiencing the delightful wildlife don’t miss on the chance to relax and enjoy a tasty snack or drink in the new conservatory extension to the café which overlooks the beautiful Canal Gardens.

Last year, a children’s party and education zone was also created and the entrance to Tropical World was given a facelift as part of the overall £1.5m refurbishment programme funded by the council, a grant and a very generous donation from the Ziff family, who continue to be great supporters of the venue and city in general.

In 2013, 390,000 people visited Tropical World, making it the Yorkshire and Humber’s third most popular paid attraction.

The new conservatory café at Tropical World
The new conservatory café at Tropical World

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for cleaner, safer and stronger communities said:

“I am delighted to say that Tropical World is now open to the public once again following a fantastic and wide-ranging improvement programme which was certainly worth the wait.

“There really is something for everyone so don’t miss out on your chance to see a variety of new exotic animals and experience fantastic attractions and facilities such as the new aquarium and café conservatory.

“The scale of the refurbishment would not have been possible without the continued support and generous funding from the Ziff family and on behalf of the council I would like to offer our deep thanks and gratitude for their help.”

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Leeds – On the devolution deal for the Leeds City Region announced today, Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“This does not match our ambitions for the people of Leeds and the city region.  We were promised by the Deputy Prime Minister that there would be no strings attached in relation to governance models so we are disappointed by the lack of devolution on transport and housing investment powers. Additionally, given that our Devolved Youth Contract is getting eight out of 10 young people into work compared with three out of 10 on national programmes it’s no surprise that this deal rightly gives us more influence over skills and apprenticeships.

Cllr Wakefield
Cllr Wakefield

“However, it is no compensation for the £470million of cuts that our councils have had to deliver and it falls far short of our ambition to shape our own economic destiny and create the 62,000 jobs that the people and businesses of Leeds and the city region need.

“We have demonstrated we have the appetite and ability to deliver far more to improve our economy. We shall continue to lobby and campaign for the greater powers and resources, including fiscal powers, that we need to achieve our ambitions and start the process of tackling the north-south economic divide.”

Reflecting on the chancellor’s budget, Councillor Wakefield added:

“The government has already cut Leeds City Council’s budget by 40% since 2010 and the budget announcement today means continuing austerity in the coming years that will have a significant impact on local government and vital public services in Leeds.  Given that some local authorities in the suth will continue to see their spending power increase  – that cannot be right.

“We desperately need actions and not words on investment in infrastructure in Leeds and West Yorkshire, especially in relation to transport connectivity, but there appears to be very little of any substance in the budget announcement in relation to that.”

Leeds – Leeds Young Film Festival celebrates its 16th edition with a spectacular, nationally unique new film event this Easter with support from British Film Institute and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

From 3-6 April 2015 Leeds Town Hall is being transformed into The Film House, a brand new attraction for families to discover the magic of cinema. The Film House offers a whole day out for all the family that’s filled with activities, events and exciting things for young people to do and learn about, where they can meet their favourite film characters in person, including The Gruffalo, Shaun the Sheep, Paddington, The Easter Bunny, Batman, Spiderman and Lego’s Emmett.

You’ll also have the chance to see Shaun the Sheep Movie, Paddington, Despicable Me and The Lego Movie on our big screen, and you needn’t be classically trained to join in with Frozen, where the words will be on-screen for you to sing along to. Bigger kids will be thrilled by our film car display, with a real life DeLorean from Back to the Future on show to celebrate the film’s 30th Anniversary!

The famous DeLorean car, which featured in the popular 'Back to the Future' film trilogy, will be on display
The famous DeLorean car, which featured in the popular ‘Back to the Future’ film trilogy, will be on display

Magic Light Pictures present a special screening of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, followed by a talk about adapting a beloved children’s book for screen, and The Gruffalo will be there for you to meet in person each day.

BAFTA Kids: Behind the Scenes with CBBC leads a unique and high profile range of workshops which give young people the opportunity to work towards an Arts Award. Animator David Bunting’s Masterclass shows the magic behind his work on Shaun the Sheep, Chuggington and Bob the Builder. You can work on your own How to Train Your Dragon, Frozen and Lego animations in our dedicated Animation Zone, and take part in a giant, living Minions comic book or learn skills in Documentary and Soundtrack making too.

The Film House also gives you the chance to explore secret parts of Leeds Town Hall that aren’t normally open to the public. You can journey back through history on the Clock Tower Time Travel Tour with storyteller Matthew Bellwood, who will show you how movies were first invented, or join the Easter Bunny on an Easter Egg hunt in the magical forest below The Film House and discover a hidden world of wonder.

You’ll find something to do in every part of The Film House all throughout the day, from challenging yourself to make the best Minecraft build to re-creating your favourite films in The Pop Up Booth, taking part in the biggest Movie Karaoke there is and watching the best film-themed video hits on the largest screen you’ve ever seen them on with the YouTube Jukebox.

Delicious food and snacks are available from a range of Street Food Stalls at the front of the Town Hall and in The Film House café, and facilities for parents with young children include a Buggy Zone and Baby Changing.

All-inclusive* Day Passes for The Film House are incredible value, beginning at just £6.50 per person. A limited supply of Early Bird Passes are available for £25, giving access for up to four people (including up to two adults). Entry is free for Under 3s.

For all this and much more, please visit www.thefilmhouseleeds.com to view the full programme and to purchase tickets. You can also purchase tickets by visiting City Centre Box Office on Millenium Square in person (The Carriageworks, Millenium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD) or calling 0113 224 3801.

*Day Passes do not include the Clock Tower Time Travel Tour or Easter Bunny Adventure, which must be booked separately once you have purchased your Film House Pass. Programme is correct at time of printing, but is subject to change.

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

“The Leeds Young Film Festival is a fantastic annual event in our city, which provides a unique platform for young people to enjoy the magic of cinema and also learn new skills to improve their own individual work and projects.

“As always an action-packed and diverse programme will feature in this year’s event, which is guaranteed to both captivate and entertain young people of all ages.”

Debbie Maturi, Director of Leeds Young Film Festival said:

“We’re really excited to add The Film House to Leeds Young Film Festival’s programme. It’s such a unique and interactive day out for families – in one of the city’s favourite buildings. And with so much to see and experience, it’s really great value too.”

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Leeds – Following a year of conversations with local communities, children and young people, flagship cultural organisations and the city’s independent arts sector, senior councillors will be asked to recommend next week that Leeds’ bids to become the European Capital of Culture 2023.

Forming part of a report to Leeds City Council’s executive board on 18 March 2015, members will have the opportunity to consider for the first time the views, opinions and results of a detailed public consultation on a potential bid which has taken place over the last 14 months and also approve Leeds putting its name forward for the title which will aspire through the bid to make a positive and long lasting impact on communities and the lives of residents across the city.

Leeds could be vying to become the 2023 European Capital of Culture if a report is agreed next week
Leeds could be vying to become the 2023 European Capital of Culture if a report is agreed next week

A wide range of questions were asked as part of the consultation, which aimed to put the thoughts of residents from all communities, backgrounds and ethnicities across Leeds right at the heart of the debate and process. Questions which were asked ranged from how can cultural activities be made more accessible and affordable for all, to the sense of identity and ambition that a bid could bring to the city. The potential costs and benefits of the title were also considered in the debate. As part of Leeds City Council’s ‘Annual Citizens Culture Survey’, which is the largest single consultation undertaken yearly by the authority with 3,000 residents, 77% of respondents said they would support a bid, while 94% of those who responded to a ‘Breeze Online Survey’ of children and young people also offered their support.

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

“For more than a year now we’ve been conducting an incredibly wide-ranging and engaging consultation process, asking the city whether it thinks we should bid to become the 2023 European Capital of Culture. There’s been a real buzz about the debate with diverse views on the impact a bid could have culturally, socially and economically for Leeds but the overwhelming response has been a positive one.

“We were always determined from day one that whilst a bid and the potential benefits to communities and residents would be appealing, we had to look at it very much from the head as well as the heart. An absolutely priority to us was to hear the thoughts of as many residents as possible from all backgrounds and cultures, and I am delighted to say that the overwhelming majority of responses we received were positive. This has given us the confidence that if Leeds were to put itself in the hat to bid, the support is there from a vast number of city partners, groups, organisations and residents who will all have a massive part to play to make this ambition of becoming the 2023 European Capital of Culture a reality.”

Cllr Lucinda Yeadon
Cllr Lucinda Yeadon

The council began the conversation to gauge whether there was an appetite for a city bid with a public meeting at Leeds Town Hall on 7th January 2014 which was attended by more than 300 people. Over the last 14 months the debate has continued with a series of blogs and opinion pieces shared across various social media platforms, focus groups with local communities and diverse groups, engagement with community committees, discussions with councillors, online surveys and video blogs from children and young people.

Leeds’ capital of culture ambition will aim to galvanise residents and communities whilst nurturing the creative talent of future generations by working with a range of partners, groups and organisations to firmly embed and reshape culture and arts in the heart and makeup of the city. The city is fortunate is already have a rich base of cultural organisations, groups and attractions, and all will play a key part in the bid to showcase Leeds’ offer to a national and international audience.

If Leeds is to move ahead on the proposal, an expression of interest bid must be submitted by December 2016 with a further and final bid submitted by December 2017, with a decision expected in 2018.

Cllr Yeadon added:

“If the executive board approve the report, the hard work will start straight away as we move forward on the groundwork and conversations around all aspects of the bid including its funding. We have tried to be as transparent as possible around the issue of cost whilst not wanting to reveal to any of our competitors the secrets of Leeds’ bid and the other partners we are approaching as funders! We know especially in these testing times that every penny counts but the experience of previous host cities shows us that successful bids attract funding from a whole range of individuals and organisations who are all keen to get a piece of this exciting once in a generation city event.”

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Leeds – The city centre is once again set to become a sea of green, white and gold as Leeds hosts its annual St Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday March 15.

In what is always a highlight in Leeds’ cultural calendar, the parade will begin with a colourful convoy of floats featuring live music and entertainment which will leave Millennium Square at 11.00am before making their way around the streets of the city centre. Accompanying the floats and taking part in the parade, which will return to Millennium Square just after 12 noon will be members of the Leeds Irish community, schools and sports organisations. People are invited to join the festivities on Millennium Square from 10am.

Opening the parade this year will be former Leeds United manager David O’Leary, and he will be joined by other guests on the day including the Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr David Congreve, representatives from the Irish Embassy and Mrs Ireland 2015, Natalie Marie Quinn.

The St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday, March 15
The St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday, March 15

As always a range of marquees, tents and entertainment will be available on Millennium Square from 10.30am-4pm. Taking to the stage will include bands playing traditional Irish music and dancers from the city’s traditional Irish dancing schools, and a range of children’s entertainment. Bands set to perform include ‘Beware Of The Pig’, ‘The Duets’ and ‘Leeds CCE’.

Leeds Civic Hall will also be hosting a number of displays which can be viewed from 12.30pm – 3.30pm.

Part funded by Leeds City Council, the Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade is a fun-filled day that people of all ages can enjoy, whether it is to celebrate their own Irish heritage or to just simply have a great time!

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

“We are really looking forward to this year’s Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade, which as always will be providing an action-packed day of fantastic entertainment and colour for all the family to enjoy!

“The floats which from part of the parade are always a must-see and this will be followed with a number of performers taking to the stage throughout the afternoon on Millennium Square and entertaining the crowd with traditional Irish music and dance.”

Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade secretary Hugh O Malley said:

“The St Patrick’s Day Parade would like all the citizens of Leeds to come to Millennium Square on the 15th March ‘to get Leeds going Irish’ at 10am. The parade is always fantastic, and we are looking forward to everyone enjoying the craic and entertainment in Millennium Square afterwards.”

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Leeds – A journey that started in 2000, one of Yorkshire’s most popular Chinese halal food venues, Fortune Cookies is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year.

Urban Echo caught up with Mohammed Ishfaq, manager of the chic takeaway based opposite Leeds University, to talk about how it all started and what their future plans are.

As we met at the Leeds branch on a busy evening, it was difficult to get through the entrance as hungry customers were ordering from the diverse menu. One dish in particular that was proving popular was the spicy wings, which has in time become the signature dish of Fortune Cookie.

77189_136457063206087_1128548274_nAs the manager takes a short break to talk to us, we ask him how Fortune Cookie came about at a time when Chinese halal food was not seen as appetising option fifteen years ago to south Asian households. He tells us, “We opened in Leeds in 2000. At that time, we were the very first halal Chinese venue in Yorkshire. After looking at the food market, we realised that there was a need for halal Chinese food because as we personally enjoyed the food, we found it frustrating that we could not eat the meat dishes as they were not halal.”

As the Leeds branch is based in the Headingley area at the heart of a vibrant student population, initially Fortune Cookie enjoyed a predominant student customer base and as word got around about the quality of food and wide variety of options, the business grew and started attracting Asian families who now had the option of enjoying a full halal Chinese food menu.

Ishfaq continues, “Our customer base is very diverse and they travel from all over Yorkshire and the surrounding areas to eat here. Our Chinese chefs are second to none as they produce a standard of food that cannot be matched by any other Chinese takeaway.”

320021_136457203206073_1063143771_nFortune Cookie pride themselves on ‘good value for money’ as well as the freshest and best locally sourced produce.

Asked about what their future plans hold, “Our success has meant that have now opened in Dewsbury and we will shortly be opening in Bradford in the heart of the student area. Our new venue in Dewsbury also has a wide range of desserts and milk shakes. The seating is very comfortable so that families can come out and enjoy the food in the comfort of a friendly environment,” Ishfaq concludes.

Fortune Cookie is a trendsetter and it was their realisation and dream of introducing Chinese food to the south Asian communities fifteen years ago that have undoubtedly made them the leading Chinese halal brand in Yorkshire today.

To visit Cookies Fortune, their branches are located at:

Leeds Branch – 81 Raglan Road, Hyde Park, Leeds, LS2 9DZ, Tel: 0113 244 2228

Dewsbury branch – 50 Bradford Road, Dewsbury, WF13 2DU, Tel: 01924 458800

 

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