The Cross Ingrams Area Residents Association in Holbeck held its regular bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday evening (25 March) in the Ingram Gardens Community Centre. Around 20 residents attended, the main topic of discussion being the planned prostitute’s drop-in centre on Domestic Street in Holbeck. Jackie Hird from the Joanna charity and Gerry Shevlin from Leeds City Council had been invited along to talk about the centre and the work being done to deal with street prostitution. A strong contingent from West Yorkshire Police was also in attendance to explain their role with the issue.
The discussion was extremely lively to say the least. Residents expressed their anger at the plan to site the centre in Holbeck next to residential housing and in a regeneration area. They argued that it was likely to increase street prostitution, not reduce it. Objections were not against the work carried out by the charity but the location of the centre. Jackie Hird explained what Joanna does to try to help prostitutes leave the practice and suggested that prostitution would not increase as a result of the centre being located in Holbeck.
Comments on the planning application have been submitted to the council, of which 67% are objections from individual Holbeck residents and all Holbeck residents groups; the rest are support comments, nearly all of which come from organisations and people living outside Holbeck itself. As a result of pressure from Councillor David Congreve (who was present at the meeting along with Councillor Adam Ogilvie) the application has been referred to the plans panel which sits on 3 April for a decision.