Leeds Today: bettakultcha, biscuits, brutalism, Batley, buses, business and Sir Jim.

Morning! It’s Monday again but for many of us it will be a short week. And what a week! But first, the news.

The publication of the public transport inrastructure plan has provoked anger in Yorkshire and Humberside transport authorities and MPs, reports the Yorkshire Post. 84% of the funding earmarked for transport improvements is going to London, and the long hoped-for trolleybus scheme for Leeds has been put on hold again by the DfT.

The BBC has more details on how much is actually being spent on transport regoinally: £2,700 per head in London vs £5 per head in the North East (which is frankly appalling, given the rural community aspects of public transport up there) and £201/head in Yorkshire and Humberside. And it’s against this backdrop that First have announced fare rises in the New Year, with a £1.90 fare rising to £2 and the cost of a dayrider going up to £3.80. (their comment about fare prices not changing in 16 months is a little disingenuous, as the “simplifying” fares idea that came in earlier in the year saw many bus journeys increase in price.)

The BBC is reporting that ten fire stations in West Yorkshire are to close in restructuring plans to save the Fire Authority £18m. The stations that are closing are Gipton, Stanks, Rawdon, Otley, Brighouse, Elland, Hemsworth, South Elmsall, Batley and Dewsbury, to be replaced with five new “super stations” at Killingbeck, Menston, Rastrick, South Kirkby and Batley Carr. 102 jobs are expected to be lost.

Campaigners in Morley have been celebrating keeping their local library open with a storytime session, says the Morley Observer. The library, which was one of those scheduled for closure by LCC, will change ownership to the Friends of Drighlington Community net year, but in the meantime remains open thanks to the 35 volunteers who give up their time to keep the space open.

The departure of a playgroup from Howden Clough Community Centre in Batley means that there is spare capacity in the timetable for more daytime activities, although the centre is in need of some renovation work (Batley News). More volunteers are needed to help run the centre, too – but community groups in the area will be more able to find somewhere to meet.

The YEP has an article on a Leeds-based pancake maker that has benefited from a £9k grant from LCC’s Business Growth Fund. Local businesses can apply for up to £10k from the fund for refits and new kit.

Also in the YEP is a report on the Sir Jimmy Savile tribute walk that happened on Saturday around Roundhay park. The organisers – relatives of Sir Jim – were trying to raise funds for the spinal care unit at LGI. The weather meant that turnout was quite low, but plans to make this a regular event are well underway.

A Leeds soldier has told the BBC of how his standard issue radio saved his life as it diverted a Taliban bullet. Cpl Paddy Dyson, from The Yorkshire Regiment, was under fire in Helmand and survived partially thanks to the backpack radio.

The YEP has details on the Catch-Up Exhibition at the Top-Up art gallery in Holbeck last Thursday. The plans are to open up for the third Thursday in each month for the next six months, and using the old newsagents on Water Lane as the site is all part of Holbeck’s emerging character.

LCC has announced the return of the Ice Cube, with a change in design and some new facilities being put into place, including a nursery rink and a bobsleigh simulator. It will open on Jan 27th, more details (including pricing and booking details) will be coming soon.

This week is a busy one at the Corn Exchange; cultural phenomenon Bettakultcha will be in situ on Tuesday evening (where at least one BGL staffer will be presenting), quickly followed by Cornucopia, a foodie festival that back in October was a big hit. The stalls for Cornucopia will be in place from Wednesday to Friday, with a supperclub session on Friday from local folks who run occasional restaurants from their domestic kitchens.

My Life in Leeds is looking for writers; if you’re local to the city and are able to write then Darren would like to hear from you.

Finally today, two articles from the Culture Vultures. Jayne Rodgers takes a closer look at some of the brutalist architecture in the city (well, the University) and Irna Qureshi asks What does your favourite biscuit say about you? More details will be coming out at her Bettakultcha talk tomorrow night, I’m sure!

And that’s it for today. Don’t forget we shut up shop on Wednesday where we’ll announce the winners of the BGL alternative photo competition 2011, and thank a lot of people who have given us support, stories and inspiration since we opened up back in May. Thanks for reading; Ells will be with you tomorrow.

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