2014: Review of the year in South Leeds

In terms of our most read articles on South Leeds Life, 2014 was dominated by two stories: the new Asda store at Middleton and the plans to redevelop the Ice Pak site in Beeston.

ASDA Middleton 01Of course the Asda story wasn’t just about a supermarket opening, but the creation of some 375 jobs. Thanks to hard work by Leeds City Council and a lot of pushing from local councillors, two thirds of those jobs went to people from LS10. We like to think that we played our part by keeping readers informed of the opportunities.

The Ice Pak story was more divisive and led to a lot of debate in our comments section, 120 comments to be precise. Promoting debate about local issues was one of our aims when we set the blog up. The decision on the planning application is due in January and we’ll bring you the news as soon as we have it.

By the way we had over 100,000 visitors to the site this year and over a quarter of a million page views. January saw our highest monthly readership figure (over 40,000 page views) since we started in November 2010. We grew our Facebook page by over 300 this year to 671 ‘likes’ and increased our Twitter following to 2,320.

Here are some of the other highlights of 2014:

January: The Hunslet Hawks beat Leeds Rhinos in the Lazenby Cup in what would prove to be a foretaste of a great season for the Hawks. We also ran a series of articles to help people with money problems as part of National Debt Awareness Week.

February: Work on the new PFI housing regeneration in Beeston Hill and Holbeck finally got underway. We reported plans for the Ruth Gorse Academy and the Hunslet Stray to reshape the so called ‘South Bank’. We profiled a rabbit rescue centre in Cottingley and where there when the Kaiser Chiefs opened the new extended Old Chapel studios in Holbeck.

March: The new Aldi store opened in Middleton, improvement work started in Cross Flatts Park and we published photos of the Holbeck viaduct which local activists hope to open as a linear park, walk and cycle way. Sadly we also had to report that Steve Williamson had died suddenly. Steve was a great supporter of, and writer for, South Leeds Life amongst many other community activities.

Image: Noel Curry.
Image: Noel Curry.

April: The Royal Mail announced they were swapping the LS10 and LS11 postcodes … oh no, that was an April Fool, we hope it made you smile. We started our election coverage as candidates were announced. We created dedicated pages and allowed each candidate to submit up to 200 words about why we should vote for them. There was also a dog attack on a small boy – an issue we would come back to in December. April was Autism Awareness month and covered the bathing of Leeds landmarks in blue light as well continuing to publish extracts about life with Amber, a girl from Cottingley who has Autism. We also reported on Groundwork’s Men in Sheds project six months before the YEP and BBC picked up on it (just saying).

May: The new Asda store in Middleton finally opened four years after we started reporting on plan.

June: We produced our first, pilot, newspaper which premiered at Beeston Festival which kicked off the season of community galas. Ladies from Holbeck Elderly Aid knitted a yellow jersey for one of the statues in City Square to mark the Tour de France. The controversial Park & Ride scheme at Elland Road opened and Belle Isle was honoured by the Queen’s representative, as the deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire opened their gala.

July: The month was filled with lots of cycling stories linked to the Tour de France Grand Depart. Cockburn School held a commemoration of the First World War and remembered old boys who died in the conflict.

August: Radio gardener Joe Maiden visited Beeston to help City View patients plant up their allotment. Hunslet residents staged a protest about the Trolleybus route, and there was a family camping trip to Middleton Park.

September: We published a number of reports from people who had taken part in the community Three Peaks walk. We asked what next for Middleton Park golf course after the Council decided to close it. Park Fisheries in Beeston won Gold in Yorkshire in Bloom; there was a spate of fatal accidents and incidents around Beeston. We also covered the first new-look Community Committee where councillors and residents discussed what we could do locally about domestic violence.

Newlogo960October: Hunslet Hawks, the community-owned rugby league club won a famous victory at Headingley and promotion to Championship. Meanwhile we redesigned the website to improve its performance on mobiles and tablets and to tie in with the newspaper design.

November: A satirical poster appeared around Beeston and Hunslet asking people to look out for their ‘Missing Councillors’ and caused quite a stir. A new sixth form college for South Leeds was announced. We covered various bonfire events including posting video of the Middleton Park fireworks and reported on the campaign to save the Spotted Cow’s head as the Holbeck pub was demolished.

December: We launched our monthly newspaper and debated what to do about irresponsible dog owners, asking ‘Is it time to ban dogs from parks?’ Alongside many Christmas events we reported the good news that Ofsted had moved South Leeds Academy out of the ‘Inadequate’ category.

Throughout the year readers sent us posts or uploaded them using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page. Issues covered included: a photo walk through Holbeck; the winner of public speaking competition; and My first half term at Cockburn High School.

We also launched My Life in South Leeds. The idea is to tell the many interesting stories of ‘ordinary’ South Leeds folk. It could be a claim to fame, an unusual pastime or a stroll down memory lane. Whatever your story is, we’d love to hear it.

So as 2015 beckons, we hope you’ll keep reading South Leeds Life as we try to cover the issues affecting our part of this city.

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