Monday, 24 January 2011

Local Democracy and you

With a local elections and possibly a Referendum coming up in May it is our intention at COVEN to offer our local Councillors the chance to write a guest Blog, giving their own thoughts and hopefully solutions to the problems particular to our area.

If you have any questions you would like to address to them please let us know by emailing us at and we will do our best to get the answers from them.

It is our intention that the Blogs be published in full and totally unedited but we are hoping that all of the Bloggers will resist the temptation to tell us what their opponents intend to do and what they have done wrong in the past – it is their own thoughts, plans and input we are seeking.

Nearer the time of the election we intend to extend this invitation to all candidates standing in the ward but we will reserve the right not to post any article which is considered to be unsuitable for a family Blog or in any way defamatory to residents or other candidates or parties though we will, should that becomes necessary, inform you that we have taken that action and why.

It is possible that some of the people we intend to invite may not wish to take up the offer and we will of course respect that but it will not stop others being offered the chance to fill the spot instead.

Our intention is to get a healthy political debate going on the future of our area, involving as many people as possible because COVEN firmly believes that working together we can start to make things better for the residents of Richmond Hill."

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A new chapter?

Walking in my local library yesterday, I was impressed by the huge banner, all pink and full of promises, A New Chapter.

Looking at it, you'd think that things couldn't be better where library provision in the city is concerned: there is mention of 2,000 extra library hours, 100,000 extra computer hours, "tailored" mobile services and £1million to be spent on books.

And there is a consultation going, and an equally pink leaflet to complete to give your comments.

The questions are to do with further opening hours ( how many more hours would you like Compton Road library to be open for? Is Monday 9 to 7 good for you or would you like to offer another suggestion?), and with proposed locations for mobile libraries in the area.

Funny how, library CLOSURES are carefully hidden in the document. When I first looked, I couldn't find anything about Richmond Hill library. And I wasn't the only one. The librarian couldn't find anything on our library on the leaflet either!

So I asked for further information, and surprisingly (?) there wasn't any.
I did find the executive report on line, in the LCC website.

And I did find the mention of closures in the "consultation" document: it's on the very top of the second page, literally in small print and it says:

The costs and level of use brings the viability of Richmond Hill, Osmonthorpe and Swarcliffe Libraries into question. We 'd like your views on the proposals bellow.

Ultimately, the "views" asked, are about possible locations for mobile libraries which "could" visit the area, as it is very subtly mentioned ( and that, according to my poor English, means that there is a possibility that they mightn't.)

So please, find some time to visit the library and fill in the questionnaire.
Or you can do it on-line at:

Residents in East End Park and Richmond Hill are used to living in a desert of public services provision: there is no sports' centre, no baths, and soon there will be no library. This is, according to the executive report because our library is underused. It is worth mentioning though, that Richmond Hill library only opens from 10 to 5 two days a week and half a day on Wednesday from 2 to 5, which means that it's no use to those who work or go to college. Still, it is used by the local primary school, by mothers and children, by old people, and by youths after school, if only for a brief period of time.

For me the library is very special: as a mother of small children in the area, it was my first port of call for information, books, printing, computers and more importantly as a place to go, to get out of the house and see other people, to teach the kids to appreciate the value of books and learning.

I know that the new mantra is that "we should all make sacrifices" (although apparently some of us will have to sacrifice more than others) but I also believe that some things, you can't put a price on.

Taking that very valuable service away from us, is bound to backfire:
We live in a poor area, where services are absent, internet use limited and with very little for young people to do.

I would like to paraphrase and old Greek saying for this instance that goes: where a school closes, a prison opens.

I would like to say: if a library closes, s**t happens..

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Community Works!

Excellent news, following a vocal and very vigorous campaign mounted by COVEN and local residents, friends and supporters across the city, local councillors, our MP, local council officers, the Civic Trust and the Victorian Society, the former York Road Library is now being fitted with a temporary roof to prevent further damage to this unique building.

The work is expected to take around 10 days and will be monitored by Phil Ward, Team Leader Conservation at the Sustainable Development Unit (one of the officers instrumental in helping to secure this work).

This is, of course, great news for the area but it is only the beginning. It means that the building will be weatherproof and hopefully suffer no further deterioration caused by rain or snow damage but what is really needed is for this beautiful old building to find a modern purpose.

It is a shame that such a special building has been allowed to fall into this state but now a small start has been made on saving it we should build on our success. The site is in a prominent position on one of the main thoroughfares into the city and it is in the middle of the area earmarked for the prestigious All Saints Centre development.

This Victorian gem would make excellent community space, offices, cafe, gallery space or a combination of all of these or even dare we say it a library - so the fight goes on not only to save the old library but to bring it back into useful life and return it to its rightful place at the heart of our community.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year - New Beginnings in 2011

With a new year comes a new chance to put our area on the map for all the right reasons!

Friends of East End Park is an active community group in East Leeds who are working hard to see that our wonderful Victorian park is valued, improved and its future safeguarded.

Like most community groups we are in need of new and enthusiastic members, particularly younger members of our community. We are hoping to step up our work and improve our profile over the coming year as council money dries up and we are forced to raise more funds ourselves.

Our next meeting is on TUESDAY 15 MARCH 2011 at 7.00pm at Edmund House Club, Pontefract Lane, Leeds, LS9 8QJ and everyone is very welcome to come along.

Have you any ideas on using the park you want to bring up? Do you have any suggestions for including all sections of our community? Any problems you want to highlight? We are keen to here everyone's thoughts.

The park belongs to the people of East Leeds and we hope to see as many people as possible interested and committed to its future, come along to our meeting, we will be very pleased to see everyone.

For more information on FoEEP please go to our Blog at where you can see some of the things we did in the past year.

We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.