Friday, 20 May 2011

View from the Civic Hall

Our local library’s faith was sealed on Wednesday, when the Executive Board of the Leeds City Council met to vote on the recommendations. COVEN was present at the meeting, in order to follow up a campaign that we fought consistently, through involvement with the community, through our representation to the Leeds City Council and through this blog.

The good news from the meeting was that NOT all libraries earmarked for closure are going to be closed down. Communities all over Leeds fought to keep their libraries open and some succeeded. We didn’t.

Our neighbourhood is going to lose a very important resource, another one of a number of services closing down in the area, with purpose-built buildings increasingly left boarded up, such as the former Day Centre and soon, the hostel on Walter Crescent. Furthermore, as Cllr Golton noted at the meeting, the position of the mobile libraries brought in instead, will not match geographically the location of the library, leaving communities south of York Road without easy access to them.

Councillors from different wards commented on their localities’ needs but, unfortunately, none of our three councillors had anything to say on our behalf.

So, in our area, the library service will provide “targeted” children’s and family mobile services to the new Richmond Hill school, with a computer suite in the newly extended community centre. But although there will also be “fortnightly” mobiles for older people and weekly children’s mobiles, the mobile provision will be located in the part of Richmond Hill on the left of the railway, leaving the whole of East End Park, including the AllSaints’ primary school without any access to a library!!!

One other thing that felt really wrong was the councillors in the meeting, congratulating themselves on a “detailed” consultation. We have previously voiced our concerns over the nature of the consultation, but more problems with it emerged during the meeting. One of the main contributors in the consultation project was the Citizens’ Panel, which is mentioned often in the documents, sometimes having backed council proposals up to 90%. Only it turns out, as Cllr Carter noted, only 25% of the Citizens’ Panel questionnaires were returned!

So, when for example it is stated that “77% ( of the panel) agreed that the council should consolidate the number of libraries it has” in order to improve the quality, we are talking about the 77% of the 25%. You do the maths...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Onward and upward for the residents of Richmond Hill

The results of the by-election in the Burmantofts & Richmond Hill Ward were as follows:
KHAN Asghar 2515 ELECTED Labour Party
HOLLINGSWORTH David Ewan 1779 Liberal Democrats
EXLEY Peter 356 Green Party
WHEELER Michael Edward John 226 Conservative Party

Out of a possible electorate of 15,143 only 4,876 people did actually go to the polls to register their opinion in this extremely important and hard fought election which was very disappointing to everyone concerned but at least the winner did get 51.58% of the total votes cast, and since you cannot assess the feelings of those who, for whatever reason, did not vote you have to accept the verdict of those residents who did fully engage with and participate in this vitally important contest which will help to decide the future direction of our ward and the city of Leeds as a whole.

Now the dust is starting to settle we would like to put on record that the members of COVEN wish to thank our retiring councillor Richard Brett for all his hard work and committment to the ward over the years, especially in the field of housing and to wish him a long and happy retirement.

We are sure that our councillors Ron Grahame, Asghar Khan and Ralph Pryke will wish to keep up the good work already being done in this area by groups such as ourselves hoping to improve the quality of life for its residents and look forward to working with them in the future.

We would like to remind you all that the AGM of the Friends of East End Park is coming up on the 7 June 2011 at 7.00pm at the Edmund House Club, Pontefract Lane, Leeds.  New members from across the area and indeed across the city as whole or even further afield if possible are eagerly sort and most welcome. The aims of the Friends of East End Park is to promote and defend this exceptionally important Victorian park in the heart of a working class, formally industrial, area. Community events are held there such as Lark in the Park, Brass Band Concerts and sports events. It is also a perfect place to walk, admire the flowers, take children to the playground or the new MUGA/Tennis courts or just sit and enjoy the beauty of the park on a pleasant afternoon. We hope many of you will come along and take an interest in the future of this wonderful community resource and perhaps share your ideas for new and exciting events you would like to see staged there in the future.  See our community noticeboard for details of events over the summer.

COVEN is starting the Cupcake Book Club to be held at the Spring Close pub in Richmond Hill. It is a chance for local people to get together and share an interest in promoting books and reading in general together with a chance to meet others from across the area and, of course sample delightful cupcakes provided by members of the group. Details on the date of the first meeting will follow soon but all are welcome.

Our campaigning for the Old York Road Library has so far has resulted in it being fitted with a temporary roof to keep out the elements and when we complained about the quality of the work and further break-ins extra measures where taken to put these matters right.  We will be keeping a close eye on the condition of the building and will keep you up to date with developments.

Now that Cllr Ogilvie has been re-elected to his seat we will be making further representations to him regarding the already woeful library provision in this area and the possibility of losing even that.

We are also working very actively on the problems in our area caused by overcrowded housing and short term tenancies which do not give the community a chance to build links and bridges.  With this matter in mind we would like to thank Linda Sherwood the retiring council officer in charge of Selective Licencing who has worked tirelessly on this project since its beginning and really started to may a huge difference in the area and to welcome Joanne Hartley who is replacing her.  I am sure that we can work together to make our community a better place for all who live here.