Welcome to our review of 2013, a year of contrasting weather – a winter that didn’t let go until late May followed by a long warm summer and rounded off by wild storms.
One of the stories that ran all year, started right here at South Leeds Life with a comment on our Facebook Page raising concerns about the historic Stank Hall Barn. We organised a public meeting, from which the Friends of Stank Hall Barn was formed. They went on to run a very successful open day in July, but ended the year frustrated by the lack of progress with the Council, despite an appearance on BBC1.
Local history is always popular on the site and we also had stories about the Tivoli Cinema in Middleton, the alms houses near Hunslet Cemetery, war graves in Holbeck cemetery and the sale of Cad Beeston – one of the oldest buildings in Leeds.
The Leeds Trolleybus project made slow but steady progress through the year. January saw consultations, then there was a change of route through Hunslet because of HS2 high speed rail, which resulted in the Trolleybus being routed through Belle Isle Circus. The scheme has been approved locally now, but there will be a public enquiry next year and even if there are no more hold ups work will not start until 2015.
The former Ice Pak site in Beeston has caused a lot of controversy and debate. In January Aspiring Communities presented their plans to Beeston Community Forum, there was a planning pre-application hearing in June, and planning permission was applied for in November. Every article we have written on the subject has attracted a lot of comments – public debate is what South Leeds Life is all about.
Ice Pak wasn’t the only planning story in 2013. There was the battle between Tesco and Asda to build stores on Old Lane in Beeston, which Asda won in the end. Speaking of Asda, they finally started building their store at Middleton in the summer, as did Aldi on the site of the Middleton Arms. Then there was the Park and Ride scheme at Elland Road, which got the green light in October.
Two community projects have taken up planning issues and we followed Holbeck’s progress in creating their Neighbourhood Plan. Beeston has now followed suit and we look forward to following their journey next year.
The snow came in January and March and we loved getting your photos, we will find more opportunities to publish your photos next year. We also started using video and again we plan to use this more next year.
The snow was followed by a long hot summer and we were out and about reporting on the galas and festivals that were organised right across South Leeds. We covered events around the Rugby League World cup and the great work done by Hunslet Hawks in the community. We have tried to keep you informed about the future of Middleton Park golf course which is still in doubt.
Talk about the big PFI-funded housing regeneration project in Beeston Hill and Holbeck has rumbled on for years. We started 2013 with lots of apologies and more delays and then finally the announcement in July that the project would go ahead and now work is underway.
Speaking of long running stories, South Leeds Sports Centre was demolished and Middleton Leisure Centre re-opened, without a gym or a pool, but with a full size 3G football pitch. We also reported as the story unfolded on the transfer of South Leeds Youth Hub.
Under the banner “Poverty busters” we have reported on the problems of high interest loans, we have passed on scam alerts and highlighted job opportunities and apprenticeships. We also covered the new services that have opened to help people such as the credit union and job shop at the St Georges Centre in Middleton and BITMO’s GATE, a new use for Belle Isle library.
We’ve published two more regular columns this year joining my Friday slot, South of the River. Old Bamber entertained us with his confessions from the golf course and suggested a few life lessons along the way and we were delighted that Hilary Benn MP started writing a column for South Leeds Life in November.
The latter caused some controversy amongst our readership with a flurry of comments. Our view is that we should publicise the thoughts and actions of our elected representatives, that’s also why we’ve reported on meetings of the Inner South Area Committee. In the run up to the elections in May we will give every candidate equal space.
We ended the year covering the switch on of Christmas Lights which seem to have made a resurgence this year, a sign that your local Councillors do listen to the views of the community.
2013 was South Leeds Life’s third full year of publishing and we have published 845 posts (articles) and 748 comments from our readers. Don’t forget that all our old stories stay on the website. You can check on old stories using the search box near the top of the page or the month by month archive list at the bottom.
We are always looking for new writers so do get in touch. You can write about whatever interests you, but we are particular looking for people to write about community sports and music. Or perhaps you would like to run our Facebook page or help us with publicity? Please get in touch if you’d like to get involved, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us for our next meeting on Wednesday 8 January at 6pm.
Now then, what does 2014 hold …?