7/7 ten years on: Time for truth and reconciliation

2015 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.

Rev Lindsey PearsonRev Lindsey Pearson is the Vicar of Beeston. Having lived on Dewsbury Road in the 1990s she knew the area a little, but was working for Christian Aid by 2005. She remembers that Leeds thought of itself as a city with good relations between the different faiths and more diverse and mixed city than, say, Bradford.

“I remember the contrasts of those few weeks. I had just been chartering trains to the huge Make Poverty History demonstration in Edinburgh which was such a positive experience with different faiths coming together in a common cause. Then it was announced that London would host the Olympics and the next day the bombings. It was so shocking to discover a few days later that Leeds was connected to it.”

“The media frenzy was most destructive. It didn’t feel fair what was being said about us. We knew that wasn’t where most people in Leeds or in Beeston were.”

Ten years on and fears about Muslims still surface, for example in the debate around the Aspiring Communities project.

“Some people feel let down or betrayed. They welcomed Muslim people in the community, chatted in the shops and then some of them turned out to be bombers. That’s very difficult. I think we need something like a Truth and Reconciliation process as they did in South Africa and Rwanda. People came through those horrors and now live and work together again.

“If we don’t rise above this then we’ve failed for ourselves and future generations.”

She points out that Beeston is still changing, for example there is now a large Eastern European population.

“We need to be better at engaging with new people coming into our community. We have to ask ourselves: What sort of society do we want to live in and what responsibility do we take to make that happen?”

Lindsey went on to talk about the economy. It’s said to be improving, but she’s not sure it is in Beeston. The cuts agenda is damaging and it is “ridiculous” that people work for less than a living wage. She doesn’t apologise for raising these issues,

“You can’t avoid the wider political questions, it does impact on how you feel towards your neighbour.”

12 Replies to “7/7 ten years on: Time for truth and reconciliation”

  1. The questions raised in this SLL series are important ones. A few thoughts came to mind reading this article:

    1. I wasn’t sure how a South African style Truth and Reconciliation process would work. The three perpetrators from South Leeds are all dead, so who would offer the truth about the bombings and reconcile with whom? I don’t see that the Muslim people of Beeston owe anyone an explanation. And I don’t think Beeston/Holbeck/Luton owes the rest of the country an explanation either. We move forward by bringing people together, building bridges and encouraging dialogue. That might need more money – as Hanif Malik said, one Beeston Festival a year is not enough – so perhaps cohesion and unity should be the priority for any local planning exercises and any new resource Beeston might receive.

    2. Who is the “we” that needs to engage better? Everyone plays a role of course (parents could stop segregating their children in the local schools for example), but we need leaders, activists and community organisations who share a vision and a goal for Beeston. I don’t think we have that at the moment.

    3. Examples of atrocities and ill-deeds by all faiths and non-faiths are prevalent (David Cameron is a Christian, Tony Blair and Iain Duncan Smith are Catholics). For me, the wider political questions are far more important than the religious ones.

    1. Hi John
      Interesting… But your argument is predicated on the four murderers working in isolation with no support, assistance or encouragement from anyone else. That the conspiracy was limited to only the four bombers who are very much dead.
      Do you really think that’s the case??

      I don’t!

      The police never thought they worked alone either.
      Below is lifted from a BBC news article:
      “While those directly responsible for the bombings died in the attacks, we remain convinced that others must have been involved in the planning,” – John McDowall, previous head of the Met Counter Terrorism Command.
      However, being able to prove the involvement of others in the conspiracy continues to allude our police and justice system since the atrocity was committed.

      All of which means there are people amongst us who have, quite literally, got away with murder!

      For this, I would like, from somebody… an explanation….

      1. Hi Rich

        Others were involved, sure, but there’s no evidence those people were ‘Beeston people’. I don’t like the idea that “they walk amongst us” – it’s not going to lead to anything positive. If the police/security services cannot identify them then I’m not sure what else can be done. Except perhaps a public inquiry.

        Besides, a Truth and Reconciliation process would likely need the power to grant immunity from prosecution – I can’t see that happening. And I’d challenge the assumption that the T&amp R process actually worked anyway. Many victims of human rights abuses during Apartheid didn’t feel it achieved reconciliation between black and white communities. Reconciliation was seen as an alternative to justice which favoured the perpetrators of abuse.

        PS a detailed timeline of those known to be involved in the bombings, some who were never brought to justice, here: http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=mohammad_sidique_khan)

  2. What on earth is Lindsey Pearson, the Vicar of Beeston, talking about, stating we are concerned and afraid of the fear that Muslims bring regarding the Aspiring Communities.

    Fear of Muslims has NEVER, I repeat Never been an issue regarding this Organisation.

    The locals of this Community will be “Up in Arms” on this statement from who is supposed to be a stalwart of OUR Community.

    I would personally ask The Vicar to retract this statement, as she has clearly lost the plot, and after all this time, has not a clue why local residents are against this project by the Aspiring Communities.

    I urge you Jeremy to tell Reverend Lindsey Pearson she is very wrong having this statement published, and should be ashamed of her thoughts.

    John Adamson, (Save Our Beeston).

    1. Vicar of Dibley would do a better job , no thought whatsoever about what we are fighting against . The woman is also on the steering committee just like our editor . It stinks

    2. Lots of fears and concerns have been expressed through the Ice Pak debate: fears about traffic and pollution, concerns about who can use the facility, concern about how the planning process could be unduly influenced, concern that Beeston is being overdeveloped in an ad hoc fashion, and so on. Fear of Muslims has also been displayed, as have broader fears about a perceived shift in the ethnic balance of Beeston which the Ice Pak might trigger for some. Many people have seen positive things in it too: better community facilities, a place for everybody to come together and build bridges, and so on.

      These hopes, fears and concerns are not mutually exclusive. Just because a lot of people have fears about traffic and pollution doesn’t mean they have fears about Muslims. I had concerns about the traffic, but also hopes of what the Ice Pak could do for the community.

      I don’t agree with a lot of what the Reverend says, but I didn’t think she was calling all objectors racists.

  3. Lisa Leonard
    Address: St Anthonys Rc School Barkly Road, Cross Flatts, Leeds, Leeds LS11 7JS
    Comment Details
    Commenter Type: Society
    Stance: Customer objects to the Planning Application
    Comment Reasons:
    Comment:26th December 2014
    Dear Sirs
    I am writing on behalf of St Anthonys Catholic Primary School to express my concerns with the
    plans for a community centre on the former Ice Pak Factory site, just metres away from my
    primary school. My reasons for objection are stated below:
    1. Increase in traffic at peak times
    Barkly Road is already heavily over-used at peak times due to existing usage by our primary
    school (which has been based on this site for over 100 years), and two other primary schools
    within close proximity (Beeston and Hugh Gaitskell) using these streets as a route to school As
    three local headteachers, we have negotiated different opening and closing times to reduce the
    pressure on these already crowded streets. At early morning and afternoon times there is
    however, considerable on- street parking the whole length of Barkly Road and Wooler Street, due
    to the dropping off and picking up of children from the primary school (which caters for local usage
    of over 200 children from the local area). This is already proving to be a hazard, with the school
    receiving funded road safety lessons annually from the Council to reduce accidents due to this
    being an identified hot spot for traffic accidents for our pupils (as evidenced by Leeds City
    Council). I would be greatly concerned for the safety of my pupils if this traffic was to be increased
    due to the proposed development as there would inevitably be increased accidents. There is no
    crossing facilities on Barkly Road, and no crossing patrol staffing to assist in this area. The council
    have introduced a 20 mph zone to attempt to improve this safety but the proposed development
    would certainly undermine this. As a number of our children walk home alone in our upper two
    classes (Year 5 and 6) this would have a big impact on their safety in particular due to increased
    parked cars, traffic and the associated risks. I would require reassurance of what steps could be
    taken with regards limiting parking and the assurance of my pupils safety if it were passed can
    this be controlled? Should therefore the planning be granted? I would urge for a significant
    highways inspection of peak time usage prior to the application being granted. I would question
    also whether the community users would be urged to use the limited underground parking facilities
    or just spill out onto nearby streets. How again can this be controlled?
    Although I agree in principle for the need to introduce a regulated usage of the possible increases
    to on street parking due this development, I would question the introduction of a traffic regulation
    order (as suggested in the Highways attachment) to be imposed on nearby streets. I feel this
    would disadvantage existing users of the streets (eg parents to my school, house owners and their
    visitors) as then where would existing users park eg parents to school? These measures would
    only be to accommodate the new development, and would not be necessary should this be
    opposed. This would create a huge problem for our school and one which would be impossible to
    work around, given my parents would possibly not be able to park in nearby streets. I would like to
    add that if parking increases due to the usage of the community centr,e my parents would have to
    park further away, and as may are young mums with pre-school children, some of whom have
    disabilities, how could I be assured that their access would be maintained in its current form, and
    not be adversely affected.
    2. Increased traffic on Friday afternoons
    Our school has a traditional Friday afternoon community celebration assembly every Friday from
    1.45-3pm. This is attended by up to 300 people increasing traffic in the local area significantly.
    This clashes with the proposed plans for Friday worship in the proposed site, and I would be
    gravely concerned about the implications of this on the safety of all members of my school
    community accessing and
    leaving the school site on Friday afternoons. Would there be any control over numbers of
    worshipers to the proposed community centre once plans were granted, and how would we ensure
    continued safety if local streets are swamped with cars? This will not be acceptable to local
    homeowners, who are already accommodating the schools increase in parking. This duplication of
    usage at peak times is extremely concerning, and this is only one example. I have not been able
    to discuss this with Aspriring communities as they have not attempted in any way to engage with
    me or my governors, or to attempt to integrate into existing local usage of community buildings
    such as ours.
    3. Community use of space need for leisure facitilies?
    I would question whether the community will be using the community spaces as outlined as no
    attempt to offer the use of the space has been made to me or my school. I would also question the
    use of the site for leisure facilities given that current usage is low eg the low use of the MUGA at
    Hugh Gatiskell, the closure of the South Leeds Sports and Leisure Centre due to low usage? What
    statistics support the need for this facility in this location? Would the site be better used for low
    cost housing in an area where this is in high demand. I understand that the site immediately
    adjacent to our school (Tragenza factory
    site owned by Mr Butt) had previously been granted permission for low cost housing. Would this
    not be a more favourable option for the site and the local area?
    I urge you to refuse this application in its current form. I am not against such a community
    development, but feel this is the wrong location for such a development. The level of opposition
    locally is significantly high, with local councillors being informed directly of this opposition. If you
    require any further information from me do not hesitate to contact me directly.
    L Leonard
    Head teacher
    St Anthonys Catholic Primary School.

    Better comment than the “vicar of Beeston” , This is what we are fighting against .

  4. Quote from the report “Ten years on and fears about Muslims still surface, for example in the debate around the Aspiring Communities project.” A terrible and completely irresponsible and unfounded assumption by the reporter a prime example of how media can twist and provoke! The statement is a throwaway remark and a desperate attempt to link in “racism” with the Icepak site, which has absolutely nothing to do with 7/7! This is NOT the first time controversial reporting has upset residents Jeremy Morton…. you really need to address your reporting manner.

  5. What’s the ‘Save Our Beeston Campaign’? Is it anything to do with the ‘Beeston Campaign for Affordable Homes’?

  6. Disgraceful comment by the Reverand.

    To immediately link fear of Islam with the Aspiring Communities proposal is both naive and inflamatory.

    The objection to the Aspiring Communities proposal from myself and many hundreds if not thousands of local residents is concerning the effect it will have on the local population with regards to increased traffic (and associated risks to primary school pupils and elderly residents), air pollution and other health risks.

    There is also a question as to whether it is actually needed and due to the fact that the description of the planning proposal is very misleading whether this proposal will actually be what it is claimed to be.

    Reverand Pearson and Jeremy Morton are both on the “steering group” for this proposal so obviously have a biased view towards this proposal, however to scream “racist” or “islamaphobe” at anyone who objects is both insulting and down right slander.

    What we know about Aspiring Communities is very sparce. They are not from the immediate local area yet arrogantly assume our community is broken and that they are the people who can fix it. I suggest that the plans and documents are carefully looked at to see that what they say and what they plan are complete opposites and do not have the local community as the primary concern.

    They have tried to get what THEY wanted in the previous application, but withdrew that due to outpouring of condemnation from local residents at the scale of the project. Yes they have reduced the size of it but still have not answered or mitigated any of the original concerns.

    I would also like to point out that the new scheme has scrapped virtually all of the “Community” elements of the original proposal yet still retained all of the Islamic Centre. Therefore we can see which parts of the original proposal were seen as disposable, the much advertised “Community” element.

    Please do not insult the intelligence of local residents by trying to say that this is for us as it clearly isn’t.

    Yes that period following 7/7 was very difficult. There was a lot of suspicion and mistrust but i believed we have moved past that now and our community was well on the road to full recovery. Or i did until Aspiring Communities came along and with their behaviour have driven wedges in the community once again.

  7. Would love to hear from the Editor and the vicar over these total racist comments regarding the Ice Pak development . Shame on you racist people worrying about all the traffic coming into Barkly Rd affecting my grand children and all children who go to St Anthonys and other local schools . Conclusion ……..Your on a different planet to most people in Beeston Village . Are you getting paid ?

  8. Aside from one gentleman at the front of the meeting at St. Mary’s Church, I didn’t see any ‘Islamaphobic’ behaviour from any of the residents – the reason why many of them were getting frustrated is because the meeting wasn’t properly organised, didn’t have a suitable chair overseeing proceedings and several people were talking at once.

    Additionally, people were being fed half truths from the chap from the highways department, and the architect/engineer gave some rather fluffy answers regarding what would be a significant demolition and excavation project.

    And then, the old trick. A plant gets up and shouts ‘you’re all a bunch of racists’.

    It’s a shame that such an important word as ‘racist’ has been de-valued in this way, used as a first resort, without any justification, in order to shut down free speech and debate… and where the end always justifies the means…

    I don’t have an issue with a mosque or a synagogue or any other form of place of worship being built in the area, however – it must be of appropriate size, blend into the surroundings and not cause undue disruption to the local area.

    This development is huge. From looking at the drawings, it looks like a dog’s breakfast, and it’s in an area (as already mentioned) with three primary schools, and on a road often used as a short cut by drivers to access roads that will lead them to the M621 – west bound at Elland Road, or east bound at Hunslet… busy area.

    That particular area of Beeston is crying out for affordable housing for our young people, and sheltered housing/bungalows for our elderly.

    There are moves afoot to build tens of thousands of new homes in Leeds, many of them south of the river. This seems like a reasonable location to build some…

    As with most of these things, public opinion doesn’t really matter, as those that make the decisions aren’t really accountable to those that have to live in the areas affected by them.

    Most councillors don’t live in the ward they represent, the MP whilst a courteous chap isn’t a local and doesn’t have any connections here.

    I was interested to discover that Labour took it upon themselves to go canvassing the Sunday before last, after discovering that another political party had spent that morning leafleting, and received a very good response from 99% of people.

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