Another heated Holbeck forum: is there a way forward?

This week (Tuesday 11 September) saw the latest quarterly Holbeck Residents Forum, with discussion and presentations on a range of local projects – but the gathering was overshadowed by ongoing local anger about the ‘Managed Approach’, the sex work tolerance zone that lies just outside the community.

The meeting – attended by over 80 residents and representatives, and hosted by the Council – featured news and updates from the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan, Holbeck Viaduct, Slung Low theatre company, local charity People Matters, the Council’s temporary hub on Recreation View, and the local policing team.

But residents were visibly frustrated that the Managed Approach was not explicitly featured on the agenda, and repeatedly brought it up during heated discussions – with comments including “I’m ashamed to live in Holbeck”, and “The Council should be ashamed of what they’re doing to our community”.

Following the meeting, local campaigner Laura Walton told South Leeds Life:

“People are frustrated, because we ask the same questions at these meetings, and don’t get straight answers. But we want to find ways forward. One simple proposal is this: we need a full proper review of what’s happening – and not just the zone, but the impact on the whole community. Could the different people on the Reference Group agree a consultation process and a survey, get it delivered around the community, then review the responses together? Who could argue with that?”

And Claire Bentley-Smith, for Save Our Eyes – who are campaigning against the zone – praised the Council’s environmental team for their work, and commented:

“We accept you can’t scrap the scheme overnight – but the Council need to come clean that, with all the new developments coming to Holbeck, the zone will inevitably have to move and change in the coming year or two. They need to come up with a longer term plan. Then if the community can see an end in sight, it would change everything.”

For more info on the Managed Approach/Zone, click here. Other developments include the launch of free self-defence classes starting next week (Tuesday 18 September, 5.30pm, women only, at Holbeck WMC – full info to follow here on SLL). And it is understood that Safer Leeds have offered another local public meeting specifically on the Managed Approach/Zone in the coming weeks.