Hyde Park Unity Day Community Reconigition Awards 2013

Pictured above on the left is Patrick Hall receiving one of this year’s Hyde Park Unity Day Community Recognition Awards: a beautiful engraved mirror in a frame decorated with a mosaic produced by Alison. Picture below on the right is Bill Mckinnon receiving an award from Unity Day organiser Amit Roy.


Rose Bank Food Garden – this Saturday’s event

Just down the hill from Woodhouse Moor is the Rose Bank, a public green space with one of the nicest views in Leeds. We are hoping to start a community food garden here. A place where people can grow food for free, transform their local area and meet their neighbours. On the Thursday the 25th of July we held an initial garden day and had lots of volunteers. Lots of local kids got involved and made themselves a herb bed. We are doing another session this Saturday the 3rd of August we are meeting on the bank between 12 and 4pm. If you want to find out more, help us with the food garden or just enjoy some refreshments and meet some new people please come down to the bank LS3 1HH. For more info contact Hyde Park Source.

Public meeting to discuss an application to build on the Chestnut Avenue playing field

South Headingley Community Association is holding a public meeting to discuss planning application 12/02491 which proposes building on the Chestnut Avenue playing field off Victoria Road. The meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday the 1st August at the Cardigan Centre.

The Chestnut Avenue site has been unused since the High School moved to Alwoodley to join the Leeds Boys’ Grammar School to form The Grammar School at Leeds. Now Holbeck Land and Chartford Homes, having paid a deposit on the site, want to:

  • demolish the sports hall and swimming pool and replace them with a 3-storey building comprising of a convenience store with 8 flats above.
  • build 25 houses on the playing field with some exercise space.

South Headingley Community Association is strongly opposed to the proposal because

  • Several public meetings have already called for the sports facilities to be saved.
  • The five schools in the area need an extra 40,846 square metres to comply with the area required by the School Premises Regulations. Brudenell, Quarry Mount and Rosebank have no playing field space.
  • Locally owned shops and convenience stores already struggle

You can object to this application either by submitting a comment via this link, or by sending an email to : planning@leeds.gov.uk, or by writing to the Development Enquiry Centre, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington St, Leeds, LS2 8HD. If you send an email, please be sure to include your postal address.

The sun comes out for Unity Day

After several days of wet weather, there were blue skies and sunshine today After several days of wet weather, there were blue skies and sunshine today for Unity Day. There was just a little light rain in the late afternoon, and then some heavier rain just before the event closed at 7pm.

As in the past, there was something for everyone, cake stalls, bric-a-brac, and music to dance to for those feeling energetic.

Launch of Parks and Green Space Forum

This afternoon saw the launch at Leeds Civic Hall of the Leeds Parks and this This afternoon saw the launch at Leeds Civic Hall of the Leeds Parks and Green Space Forum. The event was attended by over 130 people including Councillor Jack Dunn, deputy head of Environmental Services, Paul Bramhill head of Green Space, Sarah Royal, chair of the Birmingham Parks and Green Space Forum, representatives from the city’s various Friends groups, and various council officers.

Speeches were given by Sean Flesher, the officer in charge of Parks and Countryside, Councillor Dunn, Paul Bramhill and Sarah Royal. Coucillor Dunn said how green space has never been under such pressure from developers as it is now, and that he hopes the Forum will enable leeds to better resist that pressure. Mr Bramhill said the the Bristol Forum had helped Bristol to resist an attempt by Bristol City council to sell of 50% of the city’s parks. Sarah Bramhill told us that there is now a national Parks and Green Space Forum representing the various city groups.

Meeting to discuss community use of the Chestnut Avenue sports facilities

From left to right: John Davison, Martin Oxley, Will Ryder and Sophie Michelena

Tonight’s meeting was arranged by Sphere, a non profit organization dedicated to the promotion of sport. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Sphere’s bid to be allowed to use the Chestnut Avenue sports facilities on behalf of the community. Speakers included Martin Oxley (Futsal Project Coordinator), John Davison (Futsal Community Coach and local resident), Will Ryder (Active Learning), and Sophie Michelena (Development Trust Association).

Martin Oxley I’ve met with School governor Ken Morton who was very receptive to what we’re proposing. Without planning permission, the value of the playing field is about £12,000. No one is maintaining the site. When we inspected the sports hall, we found 9 inches of water on the roof with leaves blocking the flow of water into the drainpipes. The swimming pool’s filtration system doesn’t work and would need to be replaced. Black mould is everywhere and there are issues with salmonella and legionnaires disease. Also because it was it was a single sex school, there are only single sex changing rooms.

Cllr Martin Hamilton The School will be waiting for the outcome of its appeals on the Main School and Rose Court sites before deciding on whether to submit planning applications to develop the Chestnut Avenue site. Meanwhile, a perfectly good building has been left empty. Why can’t the School allow the Community to use it, on at least a 6 month, 9 month lease? They have nothing to lose, and if anything, this will give them brownie points with the public.

Sophie Michelena So far, the School has not considered anything on a non commercial basis. But since the recession hit, “meanwhile leases” have been used to allow property that can’t be sold, to be used for community use. “Meanwhile leases” protect both properties and landowners.

Tony Green That’s a fantastic idea. Who will be responsible for insurance?

Sophie Michelena The group would pay insurance and local rates.

Amit Roy Leeds Girls High School has always had the best facilities in the city, but they have been behaving like locusts. We looked after them, respected them, but like locusts, when they leave, they gobble you up.

What will be here in the future? In a hundred, 200 years. Will there be any grass anywhere? We are blessed in this area in terms of the groups we have. The students leave a little bit of themselves behind.

Bill McKinnon Do we have an idea of the costs involved with the swimming pool, in terms of fixing it and running it?

Amit Roy These facilities are on the doorstep of the local schools. The savings they would make by using these facilities could be used to offset the cost.

Tony Crooks What about affixing solar panels to the roof to reduce costs? Some businesses are doing this, using the electricity, and selling the excess.

Sophie Michelena In the last few weeks, grants of up to £150,000 have been talked about for developing facilities and pitches for the use of sports. The full details have not yet been released.

Sue Buckle This area has some of the worst development in Leeds. It is more densely populated than Moss Side in Manchester and Tower Hamlets in London. The area needs the project and needs the pool.

Local schools would support this project. They have just 29% of the government recommended amount of playing playing pitch space.

Woodhouse Moor is the most intensely used area of green space in Leeds. Small groups play cricket, football, basketball, because there’s nowhere else for them to play. The community needs more green space. There is a real need for what you are proposing, including the swimming pool.

Will Ryder We are looking for partners We will be looking for declarations of interest from other groups…

Martin Oxley It would be a requirement for the groups involved to be active in the community in terms of giving something back, e.g working in the local schools.

Nigel Republica Internationale adult and ladies football club would be interested in using the pitches. They would provide an income stream. However it is the community that takes priority. We need to get local volunteers involved.

Man How does the community get involved?

Martin Oxley We make sure the community is involved by all the groups using the facilities doing a degree of community coaching in the area.

Lady 1 So that the facility is not overwhelmed by clubs from other areas, we should have people involved from the local community on the board of directors, i.e from the local schools, so people in the area have a voice on its direction.

Martin Oxley No one particular group would have control It is a quite open project.

Lady 2 Will there be open access to the sports pitches? i.e Will it be open for people to just turn up and play?

Martin Oxley There may be health and safety issues with that, either in principle or practice.

John Davison It would be good to have some open access for let’s say a father and son, or other people turning up to play. I don’t know how it would work in practice. The facilities may get messed up, with dog mess, broken glass etc.

Sophie Michelena Maybe we could have the fields or one of the fields with open access for one day a week?

Sue Buckle The Royal Park Community Consortium are totally behind you. We feel this would be good for the RPCC and good for HEART.

Martin Oxley We can do something really good that will be self sustainable. We will try to do what people want.

Residents left out in the cold

Wrangthorn Church HallAt the last INWAC meeting on the 2nd April, the chair, Councillor Monaghan (Lib Dem, Headingley) promised to arrange a meeting between councillors and representatives of the three local community groups. The meeting was supposed to have taken place at 2pm this afternoon at Wrangthorn Church Hall. Unfortunately it never took place. Two days ago, Councillor Monaghan cancelled it on the grounds that it had been arranged to discuss the result of the consultation, and that since those results had been delayed, there was no point holding the meeting. But the purpose of the meeting had never been to discuss the results of a flawed consultation. The meeting was to discuss the concerns of local residents and had been offered solely as a result of the protests made by local residents at the last INWAC meeting.

The community associations who’d been invited made clear to Councillor Monagahn that they did not accept the reason he’d given for cancelling the meeting, and said that they would be attending as originally planned, and expected to see him and his colleagues at Wrangthorn. But when they got to Wrangthorn, the hall was locked. The councillors and council officers they’d been hoping to meet, never turned up.

Instead of deciding unilaterally to cancel the meeting, how much more democratic it would have been had Councillor Monaghan explained his point of view, and asked if the community groups still wished to proceed with the meeting. If residents’ views on such a relatively minor issue as a meeting don’t matter to our councillors, it helps to explain why they’re hell-bent on proceeding to the bitter end with a consultation exercise in which only 25% of us have received survey forms.

INWAC stifles debate on barbeque areas

Three MonkeysLocal residents left last night’s INWAC meeting outraged at the way debate on the barbeque proposal was stifled. People had gone to the meeting to hear councillors respond to the community’s assertion that barbeque areas are a bad idea. But only three members of the community were allowed to speak. One of those prevented from speaking was Sue Buckle, chair of South Headingley Community Association. Several of her members live very close to the Moor and are badly affected by barbeque smoke drifting into their homes. By not allowing Sue to speak on their behalf, her members were effectively denied a hearing. When Councillor Atha proposed a motion that the consultation be abandoned and that the existing ban on barbeques be enforced, the Lib Dem councillors vetoed his motion.

Our councillors remind me of the proverb of the Three Monkeys. They won’t hear anyone speak against barbeques areas, they refuse to see the negative aspects of barbeque areas, and they try to avoid expressing an opinion on barbeque areas.

The above photograph of the Three Monkeys is published courtesy of Antrix.