YEP Leeds 2015 Review of the Year: January to March

FEBRAURY 2015: Suzanne Tomlinson, celebrates breaking the �7m fundraising mark for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. PIC: Simon Hulme
FEBRAURY 2015: Suzanne Tomlinson, celebrates breaking the �7m fundraising mark for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Culture bid, budget fears and a charity celebration dominated the news agenda in Leeds between January and March.

JANUARY

* The year began with tributes to former Leeds United chairman Leslie Silver following his death at the age of 89.

The Yorkshire Evening Post reported how Mr Silver’s funeral at the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue cemetery on Gelderd Road was attended by United greats such as Howard Wilkinson, Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and Eddie Gray.

* New figures revealed that bosses at the Leeds-based ruling body set up to run the NHS had spent more than £7m of taxpayers’ cash on rail fares, flights and accommodation in just 12 months.

Tony Pearson, head of health for the Unison union in Yorkshire, said: “This seems to be a huge amount of spending on travel and accommodation, especially at a time when our frontline members are facing continuing job cuts.”

* Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson was back in his chair as a coach on the new series of BBC One singing competition The Voice.

The former Leeds College of Art and Design lecturer admitted he had been prescribed seasickness pills to cure his nerves ahead of his first stint on the show the previous year.

* Transport chiefs paid a moving tribute to popular Leeds bus driver Manni Howard following his death at the age of 50.

Bosses at First named a double decker after Manni – and, fittingly enough, the vehicle was pressed into service on the 49 route between Bramley and Monkswood Gate, where he was a regular driver.

* The YEP celebrated its forthcoming 125th anniversary by unveiling a new layout and tone in keeping with its place at the heart of life in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities.

The day of our much-anticipated relaunch was marked by a special report that revealed a string of high-profile developments would boost Leeds’s economy to a staggering £24bn by 2020.

* Bus lane cameras in Leeds had cost motorists in Leeds nearly £3m in fines over the previous two years, a YEP investigation found.

The city’s most profitable camera had clocked more than 25,000 drivers breaking the rules on Boar Lane in the city centre.

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FEBRUARY

* Thousands of fans flocked to the First Direct Arena in Leeds as it played host to the launch of the Betway Premier League Darts 2015 UK & Ireland tour.

Stars in action included Raymond van Barneveld, Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor.

* Leeds City Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield warned the authority was “at the brink of financial meltdown” as it struggled to cope with “near impossible” budget cuts.

Coun Wakefield said: “Northern authorities, and Yorkshire in particular, have taken a much bigger hit than [those in] the South.”

* A one-armed man from Leeds was given the chance to follow his dream of becoming a fully-qualified pilot – with the help of a prosthetic limb he had designed and built himself.

Steven Robinson, 51, got the go-ahead to take on 10 hours of solo flying time after his prototype was signed off by an aviation medical examiner.

* The family of the late Leeds cancer heroine Jane Tomlinson told of their pride as they announced the amount raised in her name had passed the £7.5m mark.

Jane’s daughter, Suzanne, said: “The goodwill and the kindness of people will never fail to amaze me. We owe such a big thank you to everyone who has helped.”

* A report revealed that disgraced Leeds entertainer Jimmy Savile abused patients at nearly a quarter of all acute NHS hospitals. Claims also emerged that a former nurse may have been warned about Savile’s activities at Leeds General Infirmary as long ago as 1954.

* Great-grandfather Brian Whitaker was hailed a hero after saving his wife’s life when she suffered a heart attack.

Brian, 76, from Beeston, Leeds, successfully performed emergency CPR on 75-year-old Ann, earning praise from ambulance bosses.

MARCH

* The YEP revealed details of an alarming catalogue of abuse and aggressive behaviour that had been directed at traffic wardens in Leeds. Wardens were physically or verbally assaulted on a total of 70 occasions during the first 11 months of 2014.

* Department for Education and Leeds City Council figures showed the number of children missing out on their first choice of local secondary school had risen from 11.6 per cent to 17 per cent.

* Leeds was plunged into mourning after two boys died in a road crash. George Wharton, 14, from Holbeck, and Rhys Baker, 13, of Churwell, were passengers in a car that came off Gelderd Road in Morley and hit a tree. A ‘shrine’ of flowers and football shirts quickly built up at the site of the accident as a tribute to the two boys.

* The official green light was given for Leeds to bid for the right to be European Capital of Culture 2023. Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for culture, said: “There’s certainly the desire from the city to go for it.”

* Top performers from the world of ballet took to the stage in memory of much-missed Leeds schoolteacher Ann Maguire. The Ann Maguire Gala was held at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre to raise money for the arts education fund set up in her name.

* The care being provided for vulnerable youngsters in Leeds was hailed by Government inspectors, completing a turnaround from the condemnation triggered by the Casey Mullen scandal.

Carl DAmmassa, Group Managing Director  Business Finance, Aldermore

Aldermore supports more than £1bn of asset finance to UK businesses in 2017