Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of 7/7, the London bombings. South Leeds Life has spoken to a range of local figures about those events, their aftermath and the decade since. This post was first published in January 2015.
Cllr Adam Ogilvie, who represents Beeston and Holbeck ward, remembers it was surreal to have the world’s media camped on our doorseteps.
“As councillors we tried to act as spokespeople so that residents didn’t have to during such a difficult time.”
He feels much of the media had its own agenda. The nationals weren’t interested in the community, whereas the Yorkshire Evening Post knew they had to live with us.
“People have got on with their lives since then. There’s a remarkable vibrancy of local organisations trying to make this a better place to live. There’s been a determination to get on with things. We could have fallen apart as a community, but we didn’t.”
He’s noticed that since 2005 a younger generation has come to take leadership roles, particularly in the Pakistani organisations. It has made them less insular and keener to work together with other organisations.
“Every community needs to recognise that it takes two to tango. We all need to let down our barriers and get to know people from backgrounds. Then we can all move forward.”
“There’s so much good work going on, the festivals, youth work, older people’s organisations, In Bloom groups. We need to tell the story and join up the dots – as South Leeds Life is doing.”
Adam sees the role of councillors as facilitators, supporting individuals and groups. It’s more of a community development role than telling people the council will do this or that. He says it’s about letting go a little rather than trying to control everything and he feels this is the way to break down the cynicism that many people have about politicians.
The financial climate is very difficult for the council with massive budget cuts, but there are still things that can be done to improve the area.
“We can help with small grants, or by putting groups in touch with one another.”
He is very positive about the recent Christmas Lights switch on events.
“There was a good turn out including many people from the Asian community. I think the Neighbourhood Plans in Holbeck and Beeston can be very positive too, with their aim of bringing the community together.”