Little Moor, with Woodhouse Cliff on the right, and the existing school access road on the left
It’s bad enough that Metro and Leeds City Council want to run trolleybuses across Monument Moor. Now, thanks to the efforts of a vigilant local resident, we have learnt that they also plan to tarmac sections of Cinder Moor and Little Moor, and possibly also the gardens of numbers 5, 6 and 7 Woodhouse Cliff.
Under their plan, Metro would :
Widen Cliff Road all the way from its junction with Woodhouse Lane to Woodhouse Cliif. This would be done at the expense of Cinder Moor and Little Moor.
Widen Woodhouse Cliff in order to carry traffic to and from City of Leeds School. This would be done at the expense of Little Moor, and possibly also the gardens of number 5, 6,and 7 Woodhouse Cliff.
Instal traffic lights at the junctions of Cliff Road with Woodhouse Lane and Woodhouse Street.
Close the existing road giving access to City of Leeds School from Woodhouse Street.
The reason Metro want to swallow up more of the Moor is because junction alterations required by the NGT trolleybus scheme at Hyde Park Corner will divert traffic along Cliff Road, which is currently too narrow to cope with the expected volume of traffic.
Little Moor, showing trees that would be cut down as part the proposed road widening
The first anyone outside of Metro and the Council knew about any of this was when a local resident witnessed two surveyors at work in the area. Subsequent enquiries revealed that they were employed by the Metconsultancy Group, carrying out work on behalf of Metro.
The traffic queues that daily stretch all the way from Headingley Hill to Hyde Park Corner are soon to become a thing of the past. And the jam that stretches from the city centre to the junction with Clarendon Road is also to be consigned to history.
The highways engineers behind NGT have come up with a scheme which will transfer both traffic jams onto the stretch of the A660 that crosses Woodhouse Moor. Currently this is a dual carriageway where traffic flows freely. And as a dual carriageway, it is much wider than the stretches of the A660 to either side of it which daily become jammed with traffic. By cleverly progamming the traffic lights on the the A660, the highways engineers hope to get traffic quickly off the narrower stretches of road, and onto Woodhouse Moor using what is known as a “vehicle stacking system.” By this means, the trolley bus will be able to travel more quickly along the narrower stretches of road to ether side of Woodhouse Moor.
It’s a sad indictment of Leeds City Council that it’s prepared to exploit an inner city park and expose its users, including families with young children, and students, to the emissions produced by stacked traffic.
Annn article in the Yorkshire Evening Post informs us that the NGT trolleybus An article in the Yorkshire Evening Post informs us that the NGT trolleybus scheme has been given the green light, but fails to mention that the proposed route will take it across Woodhouse Moor.
The original idea behind NGT was to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. But somewhere along the line, the planners have lost sight of that. Incredibly, the reason they want NGT to run across the Moor, is so that inbound motorists won’t be held up by the trolleybus at the junction of Woodhouse Lane with Clarendon Road. Don’t they realise that if motorists are held up by the trolleybus at this junction, that’s just the incentive they need to get them out of their cars and onto the bus?
Woodhouse Moor is the only one of our inner city moors to have escaped the motorway building frenzy of the sixties and seventies. Now it too is to be sacrificed to the motor car.
The documentary “1951 Festival of Britain, Brave New World” will be shown on BBC2 at 8PM on Saturday 24th September 2011. It will include footage from “Travelling Exhibition” local film-maker Eric Hall’s short film about the visit of the Festival of Britain Land Travelling Exhbition to Woodhouse Moor.
If you’re concerned about any of the following taking place in our area,
Demolition of historic and other important buildings
Removal of York stone paving
Loss of the area’s historic character
then please come along to Wrangthorn Church Hall at 2.00pm on Saturday the 12th March, where you’ll be able to express your views on proposals to establish a Conservation Area covering Headingley Hill, Hyde Park and Woodhouse Moor. A draft Conservation Area Appraisal has already been drawn up. You’ll be able to view the document during the Exhibition which begins at 2.00pm and comment on it and suggest changes to it. The public meeting will begin at 2.30pm and the city’s Chief Conservation Officer, Phil Ward will be present during it to talk and to answer questions.
Wrangthorn Church is the impressive stone Victorian church with a spire at Hyde Park Corner. Here is a map showing its location.
Every single complaint that has been made to the council’s Scrutiny Board about the barbeque proposal has been rejected by the Lib Dem, Conservative and BNP councillors who sit on the board. Why is this?
Scrutiny Board chair Councillor Ralph Pryke has described the opponents of the barbeque scheme as “vocal”. His Lib Dem colleague Sue Bentley used similar words a year ago when she described residents who wanted Woodhouse Moor to be included in the DPPO proposed for Hanover and Woodhouse Squares as a “vociferous group”. If those who oppose the Lib Dems are characterised by them is this way, is it equitable that they and their allies should be in control of the boards that scrutinise the workings of the council?
John Illingworth said at the most recent meeting of the Scrutiny Board, “Nemo iudex in sua causa” – No one should be the judge of his own case. And yet this is what happens every time a Scrutiny Board hears a complaint from the community about the barbeque proposal. It’s time for the overseeing of the workings of the council to be taken away from the Scrutiny Board and handed over to an independent body.
At this morning’s Scrutiny Board meeting, an application was heard from councillors John Illingworth and Linda Rhodes-Clayton for a reconsideration of the Executive Board decision to proceed with a barbeque area on Woodhouse Moor. During the course of the meeting, Councillor Mick Lyons asked, “If this is a trial, is it going to happen all over?”
This produced the following response from the councillor with responsibility for Parks and Countryside :
John Procter (Con) Mick Lyons is right. A few years ago disposable barbeques weren’t available. They’re an emerging phenomenon – cheap and easy. Parks were to cater for people who didn’t have gardens. Young people in the flats that have been built in the city centre want to go and have a barbeque. Other areas with city centre parks also have problems with barbeques – we’re at the start of something. When large numbers of our constituents are demanding something, we’ve got to listen. How did we think we could stop this ?
As a result of Councillor Procter’s statement, Labour councillors expressed concern for the city’s other parks :
Brian Selby (Lab) John Procter says “this is an emerging issue.” Looking at the flats that have gone up in Roundhay, there should be a trial at Roundhay Park, and at Temple Newsam. This seems to be happening because students enjoy it. Is this why Woodhouse Moor has been allowed to go ? Are we saying it’s too difficult with so many students ? Isn’t this the law of taking the line of least resistance ?
Tom Murray (Lab) It’s worrying that John Procter said that this is an emerging problem which could affect all our parks. So our policy at this stage should be that we will enforce our current byelaws. I’ve heard from residents about the trial that they would like. It embraces all the things that John Procter’s trial does. We’re talking about education, signage, and education. We could market it as “Parks for picnics.” Looking at this picture, I don’t see any criminals. Enforcement would be easy. The message would be “We have parks for picnics, not parks for barbeques”.
At a meeting earlier today of the full council, the leader of the Green Party, Councillor David Blackburn made the following statement with regard to the council’s proposal to establish a dedicated barbeque area on Woodhouse Moor :
“I cannot agree with this scheme. Parks are not for having barbeques and it should be stopped.”
Councillor Blackburn and his colleagues have an excellent track record on environmental issues. In 2007, they left the ruling Lib Dem/Conservative coalition over their opposition to the council’s proposal to build an incinerator to dispose of the city’s rubbish. Their courageous stance on the incinerator proposal helped to persuade the council to abandon its plans and to choose a waste recycling system instead. It’s to be hoped that their clearly expressed opposition to the barbeque scheme will also be heeded.
A few weeks ago, the Executive Board went ahead and approved the Lib Dem scheme to establish barbeque areas on Woodhouse Moor. Their decision was not a surprise. At every preceding forum where the issue has been discussed, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors have voted to a man in favour of the scheme. There was no reason to suppose that the Executive Board would be the exception. Even so, their decision was a blow to local people. A further blow came this week with the suppression by Lib Dem councillors of key messages that local people had sent to the council’s area committee protesting against the barbeque proposal.
But now, just as it seemed that the voice of protest had been silenced, fresh voices of dissent have begun to be raised in other parts of the city. Councillors in other wards who are free to speak their own minds are speaking out against the barbeque scheme, recognising that the attack on Woodhouse Moor, is also an attack on every park on the city.
Reflecting on all of this, reminds me of the closing lines of Longfellow’s poem “Loss and Gain” :
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
Earlier today, BNP councillor Christopher Beverley voted with Lib Dem and Conservative councillors to reject an application for a review of the Executive Board’s decision to proceed with the barbeque scheme. The application had been made by Councillor John Illingworth (Labour, Kirkstall) and Councillor Linda Rhodes-Clayton (Independent, Hyde Park and Woodhouse) who argued that the council’s decision to proceed with the scheme failed to take into account the needs of disabled park users, especially those with breathing disorders. They said that the decision would make the park a no-go area for people with respiratory problems. Councillors heard from COPD sufferer Kathleen Mason how cigarette smoke from a passer-by on the street can badly interfere with her breathing. Kathleen explained that she had acquired her problem as a result of smoking, and passive smoking, and that as a result, if the barbeque scheme goes ahead, she will not not visit Woodhouse Moor again, and neither will she allow her grandchildren to go there. Councillors were shown photographs showing extensive smoke pollution from barbeques on the Moor. Following a discussion, the application was rejected by six votes to five with Lib Dem, Conservative and BNP councillors voting to reject the application, and Labour councillors voting to approve it.