Councillors-In-Shock Shock

Astonishment at bus cutbacks plan:

Leeds City Council’s deputy leader today added his voice to criticism of proposed bus service cuts by transport giant First.

Coun Andrew Carter says he is “astonished” by First’s plan to axe nearly four per cent of the services it operates in West Yorkshire from the middle of next month.

“I told you this was going to happen over a month ago!” says Tiberius – wondering how much notice our councillors require to prevent them going into shock.

Still, to Carter’s credit, he does offer the following dazzling insights into Leeds’ transport problems:

Coun Carter (Con, Calverley and Farsley) said: “These changes are a major obstacle to any strategic attempt to get more people to use public transport.

“First are rapidly becoming part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

No kidding.

But, not to be outdone on stating the bleeding obvious, Coun Chris Greaves, chairman of Metro, says:

the company “seems fixated on increasing profit levels”, rather than helping the people who rely on its services.

“My God, it’s almost as though these companies have a legal compulsion to put their shareholders’ interests ahead of the general public’s!” screams Tiberius – worrying whether the next shocking revelation from LCC might be that Ronald McDonald isn’t concerned about the health of this city’s children.



Calls to tidy up mothballed Leeds Lumiere site:

The team behind mothballed skyscraper Lumiere have been issued with a deadline to tidy up the abandoned site or they could face enforcement action.

Work halted on the £220m scheme to build twin glass towers on Wellington Street around a year ago, then developer KW Linfoot Plc went into administration in February, sparking concerns it might be scrapped completely.

Co-developer Frasers Property took over responsibility for the scheme, but while other abandoned sites in the city have been temporarily transformed into green spaces, Lumiere – in a key city-centre location – has remained a blot on the urban landscape.

See Also: Dig For Community!; Denial – Not A River Through Leeds; The Maddening Truth – Pt II

The Health Of Nations

A couple of stories in yesteday’s YEP reveal some more of the symptoms of our sick city.

More Leeds hospital cuts to bridge £15.8m gap:

DRASTIC spending cutbacks at Leeds hospitals have been introduced to try to save £15.8m.

Strict controls on filling vacant jobs, overtime and the use of bank and agency nurses have again been brought in as managers struggle to balance the books.

And there are constraints on non-essential, non-pay spending.

And that headline quite-literally, doesn’t even cover half of it:

Additional cost-cutting is needed because it did not bring in extra income by treating more patients last year, as had been budgeted for.

That means a total funding gap of just over £54m

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust managers have identified £22.2m of savings and plans are in place to carry out extra treatments on patients which will raise £16m.

But that still leaves a funding gap of £15.8m – so the strict spending controls on staffing have been brought in while a new plan to save the cash is drawn up.

One might reasonably suspect that this gaping financial hole might have some implications for the health services for the people in Leeds –  a concern raised at a recent meeting:

Trust board non-executive director Mark Abrahams told a meeting of hospital directors: “This recruitment freeze has got to bite much harder and much deeper if its going to deliver what we need.

“What implications does that have for the level of service?”

[Trust finance director Neil Chapman] said the answer was that they had to maintain quality.

“Well, glad that’s been cleared up!” says Tiberius – while disinfecting his house and coverting the small bedroom into a make-shift Operating Theatre.

Meanwhile, not far away the University of Leeds is doing its best to ensure that the city’s medical care will be poor even into the future:

Leeds lecturers fear job axe repercussions:

VITAL training and health research will be lost because of budget cuts, university lecturers have claimed.

About 80 jobs are at risk at the University of Leeds as part of a restructuring exercise – up to 60 of them in the Biological Sciences department, and another 20 in the Healthcare faculty.

Yesterday, members of the Leeds branch of the University and College Union (UCU) protested against the plans on the steps of the student union building in Woodhouse.

“These plans are sheer madness,” said UCU spokesman Prof Malcolm Povey, Professor of Food Physics at the university. “We are talking about people who are researching cures for cancer, and nurse training for frontline staff in the NHS.”

And Tiberius suspects even the health-care provisions for ‘sheer madness’ aren’t what they used to be.

See also: Research Costs

The Kids Aren’t Alright

Downturn hits Leeds’s young workers:

RISING numbers of young people in Leeds are feeling the impact of the UK’s economic downturn, a new report revealed today.

Data analysed by the Prince’s Trust shows the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in the city claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has soared by nearly 70 per cent in the last year.

The estimated cost of benefits to claimants in that age group is now more than £330,000 every week.

And the Prince’s Trust fears youth charities in the region could soon find themselves struggling to cope with the amount of young people coming to them for help and advice.

Peter Branson, regional director for the trust in Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “Our region’s most vulnerable youngsters will be permanently damaged by the downturn, unless they receive the support they need.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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Exit Stage Left

No rescue for closure threat Leeds ITV studio:

ITV’s Leeds base has suffered another blow after Yorkshire Forward announced it will not be buying studios earmarked for closure.

The news comes as the beleaguered broadcaster outlined plans to strip out another £40 million in cost savings after reporting a 14 per cent slide in first quarter revenues.

A spokesman for ITV said they would not be breaking down where the £40 million cost cuts would be made but he could not rule out further job cuts in Leeds.

See also: There’s No Business In Show Business