YEP 2016 in review: Strictly fever, Light Night and hello to Victoria Gate

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Your YEP takes a look back at what was making the news in September and October.

SEPTEMBER

* Spectacular displays of floral art formed part of a weekend of celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of Leeds Minster.

Rector of Leeds Canon Sam Corley said: “This site is the birthplace of the city. It was the place in the valley next to the river where people first gathered to meet and worship.”

* Ed Balls was paired with Katya Jones as the new series of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing got under way.

The former Morley and Outwood MP would prove the unlikely star of the show in 2016 thanks to a succession of occasionally awkward but always wholehearted performances.

* The number of people visiting Leeds had soared by more than five per cent since 2013, new figures revealed.

The increase was in part attributed to the success of major events such as the Tour de France, the MOBO music awards and the British Art Show.

* A Leeds-based speakers club that was previously women-only voted to let men join its ranks for the first time in its 40-year history, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.

Members of the White Rose Speakers Club – part of the National Association of Speakers Clubs – opted to make the change to try to bring the group into the 21st century.

The first man to join the club, self-employed engineer Simon Thompson, from Tinshill, joked: “I thought the only way I’d get in was by shaving my legs and wearing a dress!”

* Roundhay’s Frydays fish and chip shop took the honours in the YEP’s hotly-contested Chippy of the Year competition. Park Fisheries on Beeston Road came second while Pudsey Road Fisheries finished third.

* Leeds athletes played a significant part in propelling the UK to its most successful Paralympic Games performance in nearly 30 years.

Medal winners in Rio included powerlifter Ali Jawad, cyclist David Stone and Kadeena Cox, who took gold in cycling and athletics.

Ms Cox said: “Knowing that the people of Yorkshire are all behind us is amazing. They were there every step of the way in Rio.”

* Senior councillors approved the closure of three Leeds care homes despite some public opposition to the plans.

Middlecross care home in Armley, Siegen Manor in Morley and The Green in Seacroft had their fate sealed as the council grappled with the ongoing impact of budget cuts.

* Two of West Yorkshire’s main road routes – the M621 and the M606 – were among the four slowest motorways in the UK, new research revealed. The average speed for drivers on Leeds’s M621 was just 26.75mph during the first six months of the year.

Motorists on the M606 – which runs between Cleckheaton and Bradford – fared even worse, with their average speed of 24.62mph being the country’s lowest.

OCTOBER

* Some of Leeds’s most famous landmarks were given a dazzling new look for the city’s annual Light Night celebrations.

More than 50 installations, events and performances took place during the festival, with highlights including the projection of a 100ft digital waterfall onto Queens Hotel in City Square.

* Fire ripped through part of the old Polestar Petty printing factory on Whitehall Road in the centre of Leeds.

The factory’s printing presses had been shut down in 2014, nearly 150 years after Petty & Sons began operating in the area.

* Almost one in every five people reported missing to police in Leeds over a 12-month period was a child in care, the YEP revealed. Children in care went missing on at least 660 occasions in 2015/16, it emerged, with the city’s children’s homes identified as a hotspot for missing person reports.

* Leeds community stalwart Hanif Malik was presented with the OBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Malik, founder of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston, said: “It has been an exciting day and the usual mixture of emotions. The adrenaline is just about wearing off.”

* The design guru who headed up the spectacular revamp of King’s Cross Station in London got on board with plans to give Leeds a world-class transport hub fit for the 21st century.

Hiro Aso’s Gensler firm was part of the Atkins consortium that was handed a contract to develop a masterplan for the remodelling of Leeds City Station. It was hoped the transformation of the station would create up to 13,000 new jobs.

* Leeds showed why it is regarded as one of the country’s retail capitals with the opening of its new Victoria Gate centre. Around 2,000 people poured into Victoria Gate in the 15 minutes that followed its glitzy ribbon-cutting ceremony. The first item purchased from the centre’s flagship John Lewis store was a pair of red leather gloves.

* A father and daughter died in a fire at their home in the Stanley area of Wakefield. Andrew Broadhead, 42, was killed trying to save eight-year-old Kiera from the blaze. Mr Broadhead’s wife, Sara, and the couple’s elder daughter, Mia, were injured in the fire.

* An accountant who fleeced the taxpayer out of almost £180,000 while working as head of finance at Leeds Grand Theatre was jailed for five years. Peter Alp, 54, was told he had acted out of “sheer greed” after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.

* Dozens of bikers brought chaos to Kirkstall Road and other parts of Leeds during an unofficial Halloween ‘ride out’.

A police force has warned members of the public not call to them to report people throwing snowballs

Police force tells public not to call them to report people throwing snowballs