Planning permission given for police move

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for the police to move into premises on the university campus at 153
Leeds City City Council’s planning department today gave planning permission for the police to move into premises on the university campus at 153 Woodhouse Lane.

They dismiss the objections of local residents in a report which brushes under the carpet the fact that the move will exacerbate parking congestion in the Hyde Park and Woodhouse area.

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Post-script

The police had claimed that the move had been made necessary by the need for costly repairs to their Belle Vue Road depot. Today, Wednesday the 30th May, they finally responded to a request under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of estimates showing how much the repairs would cost. They have admitted that no such estimates exist.

Sue Buckle presents the community’s concerns about the police move to MP Hilary Benn

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The police want to move from their Belle Vue Road depot to a new location on The police want to move from their Belle Vue Road depot to a new location on the university campus. They say the move has been made necessary by the need for costly repairs to the depot, and the opportunity to reduce annual overheads from £130,000 to £20,000 per annum. This afternoon, Sue Buckle, chair of South Headingley Community Association, presented MP Hilary Benn with a list of the community’s concerns:

  1. Why has it suddenly come about that all these repairs are necessary?
  2. Why haven’t the police been maintaining their estate?
  3. Why are they refusing to produce a copy of any report showing what repairs are necessary and copies of estimates showing the cost of carrying them out?
  4. Why have the police only considered premises on the university campus?
  5. Why is there no report with cost benefit analysis showing the evaluation of a number of alternatives?
  6. Why are they rushing into signing an agreement they’ll be tied into for years?
  7. Why was Commander Oldroyd telling us on the 9th May that it’s a “done deal” when the deadline for objections to their planning application 12/01402/FU is today the 18th May? Surely they’ve not signed a tenancy agreement with the university in advance of obtaining planning permission.
  8. Given that Norman Bettison is so keen on co-location with the community, why didn’t they consider Swarthmore or Royal Park School?
  9. How will the police deal with complaints against the university, when the university is their landlord? Haven’t the police learnt any lessons from the phone hacking scandal?
  10. Why were elected members not consulted?
  11. Why has the local community not been consulted?
  12. Why are police of the North West Division moving to a site that’s on the boundary with the police’s City and Holbeck Division? How can it be efficient to base police officers belonging to the North West Division immediately adjacent to the City and Holbeck Division?
  13. How can it be efficient to base the police within the university campus, a site which already has its own security staff? This must be the safest location in the city. It will take PCSOs 10 minutes walking through the campus before they reach the residential areas to the north.
  14. Commander Oldroyd says the annual overheads at the Belle Vue Road depot are £130,000. He says the rent at the university campus site will be £20,000 and that there will be savings of over £100,000. How can the savings be so great, when the police own the Belle Vue Road depot and pay no rent for it?
  15. Why is the council’s Highways department accepting that there will be no parking implications when 170 police get transferred to the university campus, most of whom use cars? It’s true the university say they will allocate 22 spaces to the police. But the university doesn’t even have sufficient spaces for its own staff. In fact, the situation is so bad in and around the university that university staff park their cars on residential streets in Hyde Park.

Mr Benn promised to take these issues up with Commander Oldroyd.

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For an account of a recent meeting between the police and the community called specifically to discuss this issue, please see this article.

And for further information relating to the move, please see this article.

Introducing Councillor Christine Towler

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Newly elected Hyde Park and Woodhouse councillor Christine Towler, pictured here attending this evening’s special meeting of the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Forum. The meeting was called to discuss the proposed move by the police from their depot on Belle Vue Road to a site on the university campus.

Public meeting about the anti-social behaviour caused by residents of Devonshire Hall

A few weeks ago, a young man urinated in public on Cumberland Road. It happened early in the evening just a few feet away from me, well before you’d have thought someone his age would be the worse for drink. So when it was announced that there was to be a meeting to discuss anti-social behaviour in the Cumberland Road area, I decided to attend. The meeting took place in Devonshire Hall. Local residents described how student residents speed in their cars up Cumberland Road; how they shout to each other as they walk up and down the road at all hours; how they buy alcohol at the shops on Hyde Parker Corner and drink it as they walk back to the hall; how they run along the tops of residents’ car roofs, push over wheelie bins etc, etc. One lady described the distress she experiences when she hears female students screaming and worries that a girl might be under attack, although she realises (because it happens every night), that this is unlikely. Wardens from the hall explained that most of the trouble makers are known to them. They said that the first time a student transgresses, they’re spoken to. Then, for a subsequent transgression, they’re given a £50 fine. Amanda Jackson from the university’s community relations department said that the university takes the problem very seriously and replies to anyone making a complaint. I asked PC Carol Munsey why the police aren’t enforcing the Woodhouse Moor DPPO which covers Hyde Park Corner and extends up Headingley Lane. PC Munsey was let off having to reply as Councillor Monaghan said that the meeting wasn’t about Woodhouse Moor. The meeting ended with the Headingley councillors promising to look into installing more litter bins, lighting and mobile CCTV. The possibility was also mentioned of extending the DPPO. But what’s the good of extending something that the police can’t be bothered to enforce. Judging by tonight’s performance, things aren’t going to improve around here anytime soon.

What’s that helicopter costing us ?

If you’re an aviation enthusiast, you don’t have to travel to the airport to indulge your passion. All that’s necessary is to spend some time in Hyde Park and Woodhouse. For as well as lying under the flight path for Yeadon Airport, there’s a very good chance you’ll get to see the police helicopter – no matter what time of the day or night. And not only will you get to see the helicopter, you’ll also get the chance to hear it. In fact, you’re far more likely to hear it than you are to see it. Anyone who’s had it hover over their home for prolonged periods in the early hours of the morning will testify to that.

I wonder if anyone at West Yorkshire Police has ever weighed the cost of such aircraft against their benefits i.e has any cost benefit analysis been carried out to determine whether we’re getting value for money. One of the costs taken into account by cost benefit analysis is the “opportunity cost”. In the case of a police helicopter, the opportunity cost might be the number of policemen you could have instead of the helicopter. To work this out, all you need to know is the annual cost of running the helicopter, and a policeman’s salary. You then divide the running cost by the salary figure to determine how many bobbies on the beat the helicopter is costing us. According to West Yorkshire Police, the helicopter they use is an MD902 Explorer, and it’s in the air annually for 1,400 hours. According to consultants Conklin & de Dekker one of these helicopters has a variable operating cost per hour of $919 (£576). That means the helicopter has an annual variable operating cost of £806,400. To arrive at the helicopter’s total cost, you’d add on fixed costs such as the salary of the three man crew. This could be around £90,000 assuming the helicopter is manned by three constables earning £30,000, but it’s likely to be much more. So if the helicopter’s annual operating cost is £900,000, that would mean that instead of the helicopter, we could have 30 experienced police constables earning £30,000 per year, 39 new recruits earning £23,000 per year, or 56 PCSO recruits earning £16,000 per year.

In a letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post published earlier this year, Lib Dem councillor Martin Hamilton said that banning barbeques would divert the police away from other priorities. If spending just short of £1 million every year to keep a helicopter in the air is a police priority, then some people might say it’s time their priorities were re-evaluated.

References

West Yorkshire Police helicopter operating details
Conklin & de Dekker helicopter variable operating costs
Police pay scales

(Photo courtesy of Ulleskelf)

The double standards of our local police

The duty of the police is to apply the law impartially to all. But here in Hyde Park and Woodhouse, the local police do not apply the law impartially to all. They have a duty to enforce the byelaws and yet they turn a blind eye to the people who light fires, drop litter and play amplified music on Woodhouse Moor.  These are all activities which contravene the byelaws, and which in some instances result in criminal damage, and yet no action is ever taken against the perpetrators. That our local police pick and choose which laws they will apply and which they will ignore is illustrated by a letter that appeared recently in the Yorkshire Evening Post from Inspector Simon Jessup of our local neighbourhood policing team :

“It may seem like a low-level crime to some but  it ruins how an area looks and makes people feel unsafe. It is criminal  damage on large scale, costing council taxpayers thousands of pounds to  put right”

He’s not  talking about barbeques on Woodhouse Moor which ruin the look of a huge part  of our area and last year cost over £100,000 in fire engine call-outs. He’s talking about graffiti.

Local residents who are sick and tired of being unable to use their local park because of police inaction over anti social behaviour, have taken Inspector Jessup to task over his and his colleagues’ double standards. In a published reply to the inspector, Tony Green advises him that a few exemplary arrests would solve the anti social behaviour problem overnight. And Helen Graham asks the inspector how he can stand by and do nothing when there are people breaking the byelaws by barbecuing and leaving a horrible mess all over the park.

It’s time our local police realised that their behaviour on this issue is bringing their name into disrepute. Parking on double yellow lines doesn’t help either.

The views of the parties responsible for this fiasco

These are the views of the parties who were present at the multi agency meetings that took place in May, June and July last year.


Councillor Penny Ewens (chair)

“Where are people without gardens to have barbeques if not on the Moor?”

Councillor Jamie Matthews

The reports of anti social behaviour have been exaggerated.  If some people had their way, they’d stop everyone having fun”.

Amanda Jackson (Leeds University)

Concern that the media had exaggerated the scale of the problem.

Parkswatch

They say they’ve had instructions not to do anything about barbeques, and that the byelaws have nothing to do with them.

The two student reps

Students not to blame.

Police

About the endless partying on the Moor “It’s wonderful. A real carnival atmosphere.”

And like Parkswatch, the police repeatedly say that the byelaws have nothing to do with them.


With views like these, it’s no wonder that the parties to the multi agency meeting came up with a solution to the problem which by legitimising the existing situation, allows them to continue to shirk their responsiblities.  The only reason we have a problem, is because of the refusal by the police and the council to enforce the byelaws.  What’s happening on the Moor is not some kind of natural disaster outside their control.


References

  1. Councillor Ewens said this at the Civic Hall on the 10th May 2007.
  2. Councillor Matthews said this at an INWAC meeting on the 3rd July 2008.
  3. Amanda Jackson is minuted as having expressed this concern at the multi agency meeting on the 16th May 2008.
  4. This was said to one of the Friends by Parkswatch officers on the Moor on the 29th May 2009 when he asked them why they weren’t doing anything to stop illegal barbeques.
  5. The two student reps expressed this sentiment in letters to the YEP published on the 19th May 2008.
  6. The statement about the “wonderful carnival atmosphere” on the Moor was made by a police sergeant at Kendal Carr on the 19th June 2008.