YEP Leeds 2013 Review of the Year: January to March

MARCH 2013: Crowds gather for the opening of Trinity Leeds.
MARCH 2013: Crowds gather for the opening of Trinity Leeds.
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January began with the happy news that award-winning TV series One Born Every Minute was heading back to Leeds.

* The Yorkshire Evening Post revealed that highways bosses in Leeds had paid out more than £620,000 for damage caused by potholes.

The mammoth compensation bill stacked up over the course of five years, with 580 claims being submitted to the city council in the space of one 12-month period alone.

* TV presenter Gabby Logan was named as the first chancellor of Leeds Trinity University.

Gabby, daughter of former Leeds United star Terry Yorath, said she was “honoured” by the appointment, adding: “I hope I can help talented young people realise their ambitions.”

* Tributes were paid to a popular Leeds police officer following his death at the age of 58. PC Tony Sweeney, who was a former community officer in Lincoln Green, had been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in recognition of his services to Leeds in 2001.

* The Archbishop of York backed the fight to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds. NHS plans to axe the service meant poorly children in the city faced the prospect of a journey of up to three hours for treatment in Newcastle.

* A Metropolitan Police and NSPCC report revealed the full horrifying scale of the crimes committed by the late DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile. The report found that Leeds-born Savile had conducted a 54-year reign of sexual abuse, with his victims including 28 children aged under 10.

* A former Yorkshire Air Ambulance captain was killed in a horrific helicopter crash in London.

Captain Peter Barnes, 50, died when his craft spun out of control and plummeted to the ground after clipping a crane on top of a tower development near the capital’s Vauxhall station.

FEBRUARY’S headline-makers included motorbike racer Jonas Barber, who had two toes removed and attached to his hand after three of his fingers were ripped off in a high-speed crash.

Jonas, a 31-year-old dad-of-three from Guiseley, said: “They aren’t the prettiest of things, but I don’t really care.” The 12-hour operation was carried out by Professor Simon Kay, the surgeon who also performed the UK’s first hand transplant procedure.

* Businesswoman Jan Fletcher faced a £7m legal bill after losing a damages claim against Leeds council bosses over the way they ran the competition to develop the city’s new concert arena.

Ms Fletcher had been seeking more than £40m 
from the council after it decided against building the arena on land she owned in Holbeck. The local authority pledged to pursue the one-time businesswoman of the year for its £4m legal costs.

* A flock of sheep sparked traffic chaos when they invaded a roundabout near Birstall’s Ikea store. The 32-strong group of animals ended up grazing on the roundabout after escaping from a nearby farm when poachers cut a hole in their field’s fence.

* Council chiefs in Leeds warned they would have to save nearly £55m and shed more than 300 jobs during the coming year as a result of government funding cuts.

* A big wheel opened for business in Leeds city centre. The Observation Wheel Leeds - or OWL for short - stood nearly 60 metres tall and was situated close to Kirkgate Market.

MARCH saw Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams confessing to an attack of the butterflies as she collected her MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Nicola, from Ebor Gardens, said: “It was a bit of a mixture of excitement and nerves. I was talking to some of the other guests and they were just as nervous as I was. We were all calming each other down.”

* Campaigners celebrated as a judge upheld their legal challenge to the plans to end children’s heart surgery services at the LGI.

Sharon Cheng, from the Save Our Surgery group, said: “We are delighted for the Yorkshire parents and for all the people who have backed us.”

* The cream of Leeds’s culinary crop was hailed at 
the YEP’s annual Oliver Awards.

Restaurants picking up prizes at a ceremony held at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground included Dish (best newcomer), Kendells Bistro (best European) and Laynes Espresso (best cafe/bar).

* A cutting-edge radiotherapy procedure had slashed treatment times for cancer patients at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, the YEP reported.

The new technique involved more powerful dosages than normal, which in turn meant radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer patients could be delivered in less than two minutes.

* Medals won by football hardman Norman Hunter during his all-conquering Leeds United career fetched tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Top sellers included Norman’s 1972 FA Cup winner’s medal, which went for £11,000, and his 1968-69 league title medal, which was snapped up for £8,350.

* Thousands of visitors attended the glitzy opening of the new Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

The £378m centre recorded a ‘footfall’ of 83,260 people in the space of just six hours on a day that featured eye-catching arts performances from the likes of Cirque du Soleil’s Colette Morrow.

* Children’s heart surgery at the LGI was dramatically suspended amid a review into death rates.

Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew said it was “very odd” that the move had come so soon after the legal breakthrough in the fight to save the unit.

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