YEP Review of the Year 2011: December

James Fleming with his Bugatti Veyron.
James Fleming with his Bugatti Veyron.
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Gary Speed and Alan Bennett have been among the names making the headlines during the final month of the year. Paul Robinson looks back.

DECEMBER began on a sombre note as the body of a hero Leeds soldier killed in Afghanistan was flown back to the UK.

Tributes to Rifleman Sheldon Steel, 20, from Bramley, were led by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said his “courage and dedication” would never be forgotten.

* The Leeds United family came together to remember club legend Gary Speed, following his death in November.

Speed’s former team-mates Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty joined an emotion-charged minute’s applause for the Welshman before United’s match against Millwall at Elland Road.

* Bosses at Leeds City Council warned that up to 600 more jobs could be lost at the authority as it battled to make around £50m in savings.

The council had already cut 1,000 posts in the face of grant reductions and an increased demand for its services.

* Leeds property developer James Fleming revealed he had sold his beloved Bugatti Veyron supercar for £800,000 – because he was afraid it might get vandalised.

James said: “I have never left a car unattended in Leeds and not been nervous. I could leave it parked anywhere in Monaco and not worry about it at all, but not here.”

* Writer Alan Bennett returned to his old school in Leeds for the unveiling of a plaque in his honour.

He attended Lawnswood School from 1946 to 1952, although at the time it was known as Leeds Modern School.

* The Yorkshire Evening Post highlighted the case of Brian Schofield, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia at the age of just 45.

Brian, from Belle Isle in Leeds, was an award-winning bus driver with transport giant First before being struck down by the brain disease.

* Men-only sessions at Harrogate’s historic Turkish baths were set for the axe following reports of “inappropriate behaviour”, it emerged.

Harrogate Council’s cabinet member for culture, Coun Caroline Bayliss, said: “My job is to uphold the reputation of Harrogate and that I will do my damndest to do.”

* The community of Pudsey was stunned by the discovery of the bodies of a family of four at their house on Sheridan Way in the town.

Husband and father Richard Smith was thought to have killed his wife, Clair, and children, Ben, nine, and Aaron, 13 months, before taking his own life.

* City council bosses said 300 sites across Leeds were being looked at as part of a search for suitable homes for possible new traveller camps.

* Leeds’s biggest bus company, First, said its fares would be going up by an average of seven per cent from January 2, 2012.

Another major bus firm, Arriva Yorkshire, also announced ticket price rises to take effect on the same date.

* Thalidomide victim Billy Burton, from Wetherby in Leeds, was released from jail in the Philippines after serving 19 years for drug smuggling.

The 48-year-old was granted a conditional pardon by the Philippine authorities on the grounds of his deteriorating health.

* Otley schoolgirl Danielle Bailey, 13, told of her dream of representing her country at swimming in the Paralympic Games.

Danielle, who lost her hands and legs after contracting meningitis at the age of four, hopes to compete at the Paralympics in Brazil in 2016.

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

Yorkshire’s cities face slowdown as South East prospers, says report