Holbeck’s Big Conversation with Hilary Benn MP


Forty residents came along to St Matthew’s community centre on Friday (8 November 2013) to discuss local issues with their MP and local Councillors.

Hilary Benn Holbeck conversationThe agenda was set by residents as they were invited to record issues in three categories: good things about living in Holbeck, problems and things that can be done. A strong feeling of community pride was shown with comments such as “I know my neighbours”, “it’s a friendly area” and “Holbeck’s got potential”.

The problems fell into three groups. Transport issues included the poor bus service and parking issues on match days and along Holbeck Moor Road which both cause problems for pedestrians. Hilary Benn said he was lobbying for local control over public transport as it is in London. This would allow Councils to direct bus companies to run services where they’re needed, rather than where they’re profitable.

Street prostitution is a persistent problem in Holbeck. Inspector Chris Bowen from West Yorkshire Police said there were no quick fixes, but promised extra resources in the coming months. These would be targeting curb crawlers, rather than the women who are victims of the situation. He said the Police are working with Councillors, charities such as Genesis and the Anti Social Behaviour team to come up with a longer term solution.

Communication was a theme that ran through the evening, with some residents unaware of the many events, activities and projects running in the area. Suggestions such as a community noticeboard and a magazine or newspaper were mentioned.

Suggestions for improving the area included: community clean ups; more bins; more community events; a community café; a charity shop; youth clubs; and a new school.

Councillor Angela Gabriel explained that the Area Committee could provide skips for a community clean up. Inspector Bowen said that the new Police headquarters on Elland Road will have a community café and they are currently looking for someone to operate it. Hilary Benn mentioned that a new primary school is to built on the site of the sports centre.

The meeting finished with Hilary Benn reminding residents that they can raise issues with him or the Beeston & Holbeck Councillors (David Congreve, Angela Gabriel and Adam Ogilvie) at any time by email or letter; or by visiting his surgery at St Matthew’s on the fourth Friday of every month between 4-5pm.

To contact Hilary Benn MP call 0113 244 1097 or email: hilary.benn.mp@parliament.uk, or write to Hilary Benn MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.