NEWS ROUNDUP: Vaccine update and Middleton school plans
More than half of all adults in Leeds have had at least one Covid-19 vaccination, a senior Leeds councillor has announced.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for health Coun Salma Arif told a meeting of fellow councillors that the milestone had just been reached, while work was ongoing to increase the take-up of the vaccine among BAME communities in the city.
Concern had been raised at the start of the vaccine roll-out about reluctance among some communities in the city to take it, and health chiefs say a “long term” approach is needed to increase uptake of vaccinations generally in all parts of Leeds.
Coun Arif told a meeting of the council’s decision-making executive board: “We have vaccinated 50 per cent of our adult population – it’s a significant milestone for our city. It is testament to our city and the testament to every single individual.”
“We are taking steps to increase uptake of the vaccine in all communities in Leeds. The heart of the planning is the principle that nobody is left behind – the approach is not about the numbers of people vaccinated, it is about ensuring that we’ve reached those most at risk of severe illness.”
She spoke of the drop-in clinics at the Bilal Centre and the Infinity Centre, both in Harehills, claiming the tide was now turning among older members of BAME communities who had been most reluctant to take up vaccinations.
“I was there this morning,” Coun Arif added. “The clinics are seeing numbers increase on a weekly basis. I’ve seen from the very beginning how confidence in these communities has grown and people are walking in and getting the jab.
“The key element is that it is a trusted community centre at the heart of the community.”
Leader of the Leeds Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter said: “I welcome the paper – it is very positive. Elderly members of BAME communities who are still taking up the vaccine to a lesser degree to people of the same age in the white community.
“But the younger generations of the BAME communities are beginning to take up the vaccines. What are we doing to promote among family members the need to take up the vaccine?
“If there is scepticism about authority, then to get younger members of different communities who have had the vaccine to persuade older family members to get the vaccine.”
Coun Arif said: “It was something that was recognised. Originally there was hesitancy, but with the provision of local community centres and community leaders encouraging the vaccination, I am anecdotally hearing that there is a shift that is happening.
“There are different reasons why people were originally hesitant, but the numbers are now narrowing down.”
Leeds City Council’s director of public health Victoria Eaton added: “This is something that has been heightened through Covid but has been there for other vaccinations. The issue is not new.
“This will need to be an ongoing long term challenge – this is not going to be a quick fix for the next few months.”
(LDRS | Richard Beecham)
Early plans to build a brand new high school in Middleton will finally go before Leeds City Council planning chiefs at a meeting next week, new documents reveal.
Plans to build the new Laurence Calvert Academy School building on the site of the Leeds City Council highways depot in Acre Road have been the source of much consternation between local and national government, as the plans have taken longer than local education chiefs had expected.
But it now appears plans are in the works, as a report is set to go before a council plans panel outlining early blueprints – known as a pre-application – which could see more than 1,050 new school places for the south Leeds site.
It is expected that the Cockburn Multi Academy Trust would run the school.
The idea dates back to 2017, when the council supported the application from the Cockburn trust to open a new seven-form entry free school on the depot site – also the site of the former Middleton High School – for September 2019.
The council then closed the facility and transferred ownership to the Department for Education in September 2018.
A document by Leeds City Council officers added: “The DfE are responsible for the delivery of the permanent Cockburn Laurence Calvert free school and their current programme shows a very constrained programme for the opening of the school for September 2022.
“To date the ongoing shortfall in south Leeds has been managed through placing temporary bulge cohorts and permanently expanding existing schools in the South.
“However, without the Cockburn Laurence Calvert free school opening for 2021 and potentially 2022, it is no longer possible to meet the full need through the existing school portfolio.”
No artist’s impressions are publicly available yet, but the document claims the proposed works include building a three-storey whole school block, along with external works, with space for 1,050 pupils.
The council had recently gained planning approval for a temporary school to be built in order to meet the urgent need for school places, and is due to open in September 2021.
Leeds City Council’s South and West Plans Panel will meet to discuss the plans on April 29. As this is a pre-application, no decision will be made, and more detailed plans are expected to be submitted to the council in the coming months.
(LDRS | Richard Beecham)
New photographs show a 168-year-old fountain undergoing a steam clean to welcome visitors for the summer season.
The Atlas Fountain, the centrepiece to elaborate gardens in the grounds of Castle Howard, North Yorks., has also been re-pointed as part of the spruce up.
Visitors to the stately home - where Ellie Goulding tied the knot in 2019 - enjoy the spectacle of multiple water jets along with the pleasing sounds of splashing water.
Fuelled by a half-million-gallon hilltop reservoir, the sculpture was first conceived in 1853 and restored to full working order in the 1980s.
A large globe of bronze dominates the fountain supported on the shoulders of Atlas, a titan who, in Greek mythology, was condemned to hold up the sky for eternity.
Four recumbent Tritons blow water through shells over Atlas kneeling on a pedestal.
Other jets fill the lower scallop shell basins, which overflow into the central basin producing a dramatic cascade of white water.
Despite changes to the design of the land - known as the parterre - the fountain has remained at the heart of the gardens.
Christopher Ridgway, curator, said the annual clean means the fountain is back to its "full glory".
He said: "It's a fantastically special fountain and piece of sculpture and we need to look after it regularly."
(SWNS | Ashley Pemberton)
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