Tag Archives: Wakefield Council

Dementia Friendly Libraries

Wakefield Council has introduced its eighth ‘magic table’ that gives people with dementia or learning difficulties the chance to have fun and to socialise through playing games.

The colourful new addition continues the Council’s commitment to offer a wide range of free services and activities to people living with dementia.

Libraries have also been adapted to make them safe and welcoming to these residents and their carers.

The technology of a ‘magic table’ works by projecting images of colourful objects, such as flowers or spaceships, onto a table. These can be moved around and made larger or smaller by hand movements. This stimulates the body and mind and encourages social interaction.

In May last year, the Council launched a range of dementia friendly services, from social groups to reminiscence boxes that contain a collection of multi-sensory objects, including photographs, smells, and sounds.

These have proved popular, with feedback to say the games and activities have given pleasure to people with memory loss who struggle with concentration but have been able to concentrate on these activities.

Councillor Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, and Sport, said: “We are delighted to have yet more available in our libraries. Making our libraries dementia friendly has helped improve the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and we are proud to continue our work in developing more services.”

“Many of our library staff have been trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to be ‘Dementia Friends,’ which means they understand the needs of our customers with dementia.”

The latest magic table is in Featherstone library with funding provided by Featherstone Town Council. Councillor Graham Isherwood, from the Town Council, said: “It is brilliant that residents can now take part in this activity on their doorstep.”

“The magic tables bring enjoyment to the lives of people with moderate to advanced dementia and the people who care for them, but they are also there for anyone to use.”

These tables are also available to book at Sandal, Wakefield One, Normanton, Airedale, Pontefract, Stanley and South Elmsall libraries.

For more information about the district’s libraries visit here.

Plan To Improve Local Housing Set To Be Agreed

A new Housing Plan that sets out how Wakefield Council will improve local housing is due to be agreed by senior councillors.

The new plan details what action will be taken to provide residents with homes that meet their needs over the next three years, from now until 2026.

It will replace the previous one that ended last year and has been updated to ensure it can meet the current challenges faced by local communities, such as the rise in living costs and home improvements that contribute towards reducing the effects of climate change.

There are twelve priorities outlined in the plan, chosen because they will have the greatest impact on people’s lives. They were agreed following a public consultation during which a wide range of views were received on what the proposed plan should contain.

Under the plan, housing-led regeneration projects across the district will continue, including 2,600 new homes to be built in east Wakefield, as part of the City Fields Masterplan.

The plan includes using the Public Rented Sector Scheme and working closely with private developers and Registered Providers to increase the number of affordable new homes.

The Council will work with its partners and developers through the planning process to improve the quality and design of new homes.

Owners of private rented properties will be targeted to ensure tenants live in homes that are safe and healthy.

An assessment of the housing market has highlighted that specialist housing need, whether for physical or mental disability, will increase significantly over the next 15 years. The housing plan proposes a number of measures that would create accommodation suitable for people living with a disability.

To tackle the risk of people losing their homes or going into debt because of higher energy bills the Council has committed to providing advice and support to help people cope.

The Energy Debt Fund will offer grants to those struggling to pay their bills and training will be offered to those who need it on managing household budgets through the Money Smart scheme.

The Council will continue to support residents to save energy, reduce their bills and carbon emissions with energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement schemes.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “It is important that all our residents are given the chance to live in high quality housing, as it gives them a secure base from which to live and work in the district.
“Equally important, at this time, is the economic turmoil we are facing and the impact that is having on people who used to be able to comfortably afford to rent or own their home. Our proposed plan is aimed at helping them too.”

The report before Cabinet also reflects on the achievements of the previous Housing Plan, from 2019-2022. They include:

  • 4,482 new homes completed
  • 424 empty properties brought back into use through a combination of support and enforcement action
  • 1,271 private rented sector hazards removed through reactive and proactive partnership building and enforcement action
  • £5m grant funding secured to deliver fuel poverty support schemes
  • Key Council owned sites being developed for affordable housing at Farm Lane, Chantry, and Castleford Baths.

Cllr Jeffery added: “Our previous plan has made a lasting impact on people’s lives. It was achieved during one of the most difficult times this country has faced, due to the effects of Brexit, the Covid pandemic, followed by economic uncertainty.”

“We’ve made encouraging progress and have developed strong and effective partnerships but recognise that we need to do more for our residents.”

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 14 February at 10.30am. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.

Wakefield Residents Invited To Share Views On Affordable Housing Plans

Residents are asked to have their say on plans to build 50 affordable homes on the former Chantry House site at Kirkgate, before a planning application is submitted.

As part of its drive to significantly increase the number of affordable homes in the district, and especially in town and city centres, Wakefield Council is working in partnership with WDH to bring forward brand new homes on this high profile site.

The Council acquired and demolished Chantry House on Kirkgate in 2020 and confirmed a partnership with WDH to build 50 affordable homes on the site for affordable rent and shared ownership.

Plans for the proposed development will be available to view at the West Yorkshire History Centre, 127 Kirkgate between 10:30am and 5pm on Thursday 19 January 2023. They can also be viewed here

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “The Chantry House site is just the beginning of our plans to deliver more, better and affordable homes in our district. It is so important to us to create and provide places for people to live and be proud to call home.”

“The Kirkgate area is a key gateway into our city, and this is the next vital step in our regeneration plans.”

“This is also the first site of many that we intend to bring forward for affordable housing across the district over the next few years.”

“Good quality housing is the foundation for economic growth and the priority is for Wakefield to have a high-quality housing offer that meets our residents’ needs.”

“I would encourage the local community to engage with the plans for the site and provide some valuable feedback in relation to the proposals, before planning permission is submitted.”

Sue Young, Executive Director of Investment at WDH, said: “Providing high quality, affordable homes in places where people want to live is our priority. This development enables us to do just that. The plans for the development include a mix of family homes alongside apartments, helping us to build a diverse community, meet local housing needs and support our economy.”

The site is also part of the Council’s wider regeneration plans for Kirkgate that have been delivered since 2015 – including the restoration of Kirkgate Rail Station, the new West Yorkshire History Centre and improvements to the local road network.

It also forms part of the Wakefield City Centre Masterplan, which sets out how the city centre will be transformed into a vibrant city for the future and an even better place to live, work, visit and invest.

It is expected that works will start on the former Chantry House site next year and be completed by 2026, subject to planning permission.

Volunteers Required To Help Plant Trees

Wakefield Council is calling for volunteers to help plant up to 50,000 trees to form two new woods.

The planting will take place over five weeks in January and February and there will be 12 days when members of the public are encouraged to join in.

The Council is planting between 30,000 and 50,000 trees on 19 hectares of land in the Gawthorpe area of Ossett and Snapethorpe area of Lupset. Last winter, more than 50,000 trees were planted on 24 sites across the district and 400 volunteers took part, including 176 children.

Councillor Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Planting thousands of trees is a big task and everyone is welcome to join us – individuals, families, schools, community groups and businesses.”

“I helped with a number of planting sessions last year when we planted more than 50,000 trees. We couldn’t have done it without our fantastic volunteers.”

“It’s a great way to get outside, get your hands dirty and do something good for your community – help tackle climate change and make Wakefield a greener and healthier place to live.”

“Every tree we plant will capture a tonne of carbon, help prevent flooding and provide habitat for wildlife, and the new woods will provide green havens for future generations to enjoy.”

The public planting days at the Snapethorpe site will take place on:
• Wednesday 25th January
• Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January
• Wednesday 1st February
• Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February
• Wednesday 8th February
• Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February

People are also invited to help plant at the smaller Gawthorpe site on:
• Wednesday 22nd February
• Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February

There will be two-hour sessions in the mornings and afternoons. Volunteers are asked to register to ensure there is enough equipment. For more details and how to register visit here:

The trees will be a mix of broadleaved and coniferous native trees, carefully selected to thrive in the environment.

Wakefield Council will continue to plant trees at various locations across the district over the next few years. The Council is a partner in the White Rose Forest initiative, which will form part of the Northern Forest of 50 million trees.

Creating new woodlands is part of the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, a mission to make the authority’s operation carbon neutral by 2030 and help the entire district achieve ‘net zero’ by 2038.

The Council is also inviting members of the public to help name the woods. There is still time to vote on a shortlist of three options for each site. People can vote on the Council’s Facebook page or by completing the online survey here. The vote closes on 27 January 2023.

Wakefield’s Vision For Zero Road Casualties

Wakefield Council is set to adopt an internationally recognised approach to improving road safety in the Wakefield district.

The new strategy, Vision Zero, aims to reduce road deaths and accidents to zero by 2050 and will mark a new direction in how road danger is reduced.

The focus of the new strategy will be on putting the needs of people and communities above those of vehicles across the district – a move away from the traditional approach of focusing efforts on roads where road deaths and accidents are more likely to take place.

Instead, there will be a number of initiatives across the board to make streets safer. They include better pedestrian and cycling routes and facilities, speed limit reductions, and promoting safer walking, cycling and links to public transport, along with measures being put in place at known casualty sites to reduce the number of people being killed or seriously injured.

On average, there are 10 vehicle related deaths a year in the Wakefield district. The number of people hurt or seriously injured is on the increase.

To prevent future road traffic fatalities and injuries the Council wants to introduce Vision Zero and the five principles that underpin it, to create streets that are safe for walking and cycling.

The five key areas that make up Vision Zero are: safer speeds, safer vehicles, safer roads, safer behaviours and improved learning from collision investigations.

Cllr Matthew Morley, Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways at Wakefield Council, said: “Road safety is a priority for us and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority who have made this vision a key priority in their latest local transport plan for the region which we are signed up to.”

“Any death and serious injury from a road accident is unacceptable and we are committed to taking action. All of us share a responsibility to reduce the dangers which vehicles pose to our safety, and we will be reaching out to communities and businesses to ask they work with us to implement this vision. We can achieve so much more if we work together.”

Vision Zero originally started in the 1990s in Sweden and has been successful across Europe.

The decision whether to adopt this strategy will be made at the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 17 January at 10.30am. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.

Residents Invited To Join Wakefield Question Time

Wakefield residents will get the chance to ask questions to the Council’s key decision makers about issues that affect the district during a live Q&A on Facebook.

Wakefield Question Time will take place on Tuesday 24 January at 12pm where Council Leader, Cllr Denise Jeffery, will be taking questions on any Council-related topic that residents would like to ask about.

Cllr Jeffery will be joined by Cllr Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport and Director of Public Health, Anna Hartley.
All people need to do is post their questions in the comments section on the live stream on Facebook and the panel will answers as many questions as possible during the one-hour session.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “These sessions have proven to be really popular, and it is important to us to hear what our residents think and need. So, a big thank you to everyone who has taken part previously and we hope you’ll be able to join us again.”

“If you have a question about anything, we may be able to help with, please do join the session and get in touch. We’re here to help.”

Join in on Facebook @MyWakefield at 12pm on Tuesday 24 January.

Please note that some questions may not be taken by the panel if not relevant to the Council, or if it requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.

Opportunity To Take Part In Wakefield’s WordFest 2023

Wakefield Council is calling on Creative people and businesses to be part of WordFest 2023.

The festival celebrates words in their broadest sense, bringing together a programme of music, performance, art, digital, spoken, and written word.

Creative people can apply now for commissions to be part of the hugely popular libraries-led festival that runs throughout May.

The theme for this year’s festival in 2023 is Beyond Words – Bringing Stories to Life and it uses different approaches for bring imagination life from the page, such as through illustration, game design, theatre, film design, traditional 2D graphics and illustration, 2D or 3D digital recreation or live performance on stage or screen.

Urging creative people and business to apply, Cllr Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, and Sport said: “We are really excited about WordFest 2023, and we want to commission talented people who can work with and inspire children and adults to get involved and take part in the visual arts and storytelling.

“If you have the skills and enthusiasm, apply for these commissions and be part of something that is very special.”

The Council is particularly looking for creative performances, and events and workshops for family and early years audiences:

  • A large high-quality commission (to include a school engagement element and 12 performances)
  • Music & movement focused activities for pre-schoolers (12 sessions over 6 days)
  • Music & movement focused activities for Primary school age (4 sessions over 2 days)
  • Performative arts aimed at families (8 performances over 4 days)
  • Digital workshops aimed at 10-14 yrs olds (4/5 days over Saturdays or half term)
  • Workshops for younger primary age 4-8 yrs old (6 sessions over 3 days
  • Workshops for older primary age 8-12 yrs old (6 sessions over 3 days)

    To apply visit the event website here

Children And Young People’s Summit A Great Success

Sixty-five children, young people and adults took part in an event in Wakefield last Saturday to talk about issues facing their generation, and what the Council and its partners can do to support them.

The sixth Build Our Futures Summit was held in Unity Hall, where young people, parents and carers, and professionals joined together to share their views and ideas, access workshops, watch performances and ask questions to a panel of professionals and local leaders.

As the event took place during Anti-Bullying Week (14 – 18 November), the focus of the day was to empower young people to ‘Reach Out’ to counter the harm and hurt that bullying causes, with discussion taking place on what everyone can do to stop bullying and enhance the experience of growing up in the Wakefield district.

There was also much discussion and updates around progress made on the young people’s priorities from previous summits, which form part of the Children and Young People’s Plan 2022-2025, and the work still to do.

Councillor Margaret Isherwood, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “This was another very successful day. We want to ensure that all children and young people receive the support they need to achieve their ambitions, reach their goals and we recognise it’s very important that we and our partners listen to their views and feedback.”

“We have some amazing young people in our district, and they are making a very important contribution to supporting the lives of others now and in the future.”

“I’d also like to thank Young Lives Consortium, Wakefield Libraries and The Big Conversation for their part in making this event a success.”

Find out more about the event and the activities and support for young people in Wakefield by going to wfyouth.co.uk

Happy Healthy Holidays For Children Over The Christmas Break

Wakefield Happy Healthy Holidays programme will once again be running over the Christmas break for all children and young people, from reception age to year 11, who are eligible for free school meals.

A number of venues across the district will be offering a range of activities between 19 – 23 December thanks to Wakefield Council, partners and the continued funding by Department of Education.

Over 35 voluntary and community organisations, local schools, childcare providers and Council services, will be running free activities and providing a meal to all children and young people who qualify.

Children will be able to take part in activities including dance workshops, pantomimes, arts and crafts, sports activities, cooking, food, nutritional advice and more.

Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “This is such a positive programme, which children and parents say is hugely beneficial, helping to boost confidence and try new things.”

“Our summer programme saw over 4,000 individual children access activities and free meals across the district, and we are pleased to offer these opportunities to children and young people who may otherwise miss out.”

Feedback from those taking part, included comments from children saying: ‘’I have been feeling really low lately and this has helped, if I hadn’t of come I don’t know what I would have done…probably just stayed in bed.” And: “The sports sessions have been such a joy as they showed us new sports – at first I was extremely shy but now I am more confident.”

Parents have been very positive, saying they love the programme as it supports them during the holidays. “I could not afford to do any of these activities myself and with them being free it took pressure of me”.

Another said: “My children feel safe and I am happy leaving them there and the kids love it.”

Eligible families can book onto the programme by visiting the council website here

Warm Spaces Helping Wakefield With Cost Of Living Crisis

More than 33 Warm Spaces have opened their doors to Wakefield residents – as part of actions to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Wakefield Council, Nova, and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector partners have set up the network – housed in community centres, libraries, help at the hub venues, and other locations across the district.

Warm Spaces offer people places where they can gather for free, in a safe, heated and welcoming space, to enjoy a hot drink or food and some company, and with opportunities to take part in activities.

Some of the venues offer games and puzzles, crafting, access to printers and Wi-Fi while others have yoga sessions, cooking and recycling workshops. Film nights are to take place in December and January at one of the venues, and the district’s libraries are also welcoming people by offering free hot drinks, access to books, history, free Wi-Fi, and more.

For residents worried about the rising cost of living, support is available at Help at the Hub venues across the district, where they can access support and advice on a range of issues including money, budgeting and benefits, jobs, skills and housing and other support services.

The service is provided by the Residents Recovery Group, made up of organisations such as Wakefield Council, Citizens Advice Wakefield District, WDH Cash Wise and Live Well who are working together to help Wakefield residents. Especially as they face rocketing energy bills, alongside other financial pressures such as rising mortgage rates, and an increase in goods prices that are putting many household budgets under huge pressure.

Cllr Maureen Cummings, Cabinet Member for Communities, Health and Poverty, said: “During this time of crisis we want everyone to know they are not alone and that we are here to help and support them.”

“Our Warm Spaces are open to anyone and those who use them are guaranteed a very warm welcome and a friendly, inclusive atmosphere.”

“I am also really pleased that many of our venues are also able to offer activities, as we all know that doing something you enjoy is a huge boost for physical and mental wellbeing.”

The district’s Warm Spaces have been funded by Wakefield Council. Dates and times vary from venue to venue with some available on evenings and weekends. For details visit their website here