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Coalition approval gives boost to the poorest areas of Leeds

An ambitious plan which would see to two of the poorest inner city areas in Leeds totally transformed has finally got Government approval. Councillors are delighted because the hold-up was costing around £1m a month due to rising costs.

The PFI (Private Finance Initiative) project which will totally revitalise the Little London and Holbeck areas had been delayed as it was subject to a Government Value for Money review. At long last the Treasury has given the green light for the £181m scheme and the council have appointed their preferred bidder (Sustainable Communities for Leeds). It is expected that the Coalition will sign the contract early in the New Year, enabling the work to start in the spring of next year. Sustainable Communities for Leeds will be building four hundred new council properties which will all be protected by a landlord insurance quote as well as refurbishing another 1,200 existing council homes and making some major environmental improvements to the area.

Councillor Keith Wakefield said: “This is a massive project for the city, representing investment of £180m in deprived inner city areas, so it is a huge relief that the Government have finally given us the go-ahead. We always had faith that this was a very strong project, which has made the hold-ups all the more difficult to accept. It is tremendous that we are now in a position to move forward. Hopefully this will bring an end to the uncertainty for the communities involved.”

The 20-year PFI contract will also include a repairs and maintenance service for all of the newly built and refurbished council homes. The delays in getting the approval for this project have been frustrating for everybody. The project will not just transform the communities; it will also provide job opportunities for the area over the next few years.

Tenant told to find new home for her pets

A council tenant in Leeds, who has devoted most of her life to caring for abandoned and feral cats, has been told by her landlord to get rid of them or she will be facing legal action.

Jackie Silcox currently looks after twenty-one cats in her one bedroom, ground floor flat in Ebor Gardens and uses a wheelchair whenever she is outside her home because of leg and back problems. Two years ago she contacted the local council to ensure there were no issues with her keeping so many pets; she was even visited by a housing official who assured her that there was no problem. In fact she claims the council were more concerned that she got planning permission for a large fence she wanted in her garden.

Ms Silcox said: “I don’t know how it started to be honest but I’ve been taking in cats for over 20 years. I had my own cats and people started bringing them because they knew I was a cat lover and wouldn’t turn any cat away. I have no problem coping with them. Once they are all fed and given a bit of love they all settle down.”

Despite saying there was no problem; East North East Homes who have thousands of properties which are all covered by cheap landlord insurance have given her a deadline of August 10th to get rid of all but two of the cats. The council say that Ms Silcox’s tenancy agreement clearly states that she is allowed to keep up to two cats in her home. They have given a previous warning and have now offering her a reasonable amount of time for her to find new homes for the other 19 cats. The landlords are also worried about the health hazards which could affect the welfare of other residents within the flats.