On Monday 29 January 2024 Beeston Hill residents met to discuss the proposed changes to the junction of Tempest Road and Dewsbury Road. Over the last few weeks, this issue had caught the attention of many local people, business owners and drivers. Prior to the meeting there had been a great deal of debate about the plans – both online and in person, many suggesting that the proposal to extend the central reservation on Dewsbury Road wouldn’t increase safety.
The ‘Beeston Hill Community Association’ (BHCA), a community led group, felt strongly that local people must have their voices heard over such significant changes to a major road and accident hot spot. Those of us living in the area, especially those that drive, encounter the problems at the junction on a daily basis and have valuable insights and knowledge that decision makers (who often aren’t local and rely heavily on data) don’t always consider.
The committee was keen to ensure residents were involved in discussions with the council before these changes went too far down the line, leaving residents with little opportunity to share their views. Public consultation is often towards the end of the process and sometimes those that want to be have a say don’t even know when this is happening so miss their chance. The BHCA wanted to be proactive and make sure residents were heard at the beginning – lots of people had things to share!
It was amazing to see such a big turnout to the community meeting at The Hamara Centre on Tempest Road. Just over 60 people took part, showing just how important this issue is to people living in the area. The meeting focused on listening. People sat together in small groups, everyone who wanted to had the chance for 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time to give their opinions and suggestions. Each group then had the opportunity to feedback their thoughts to the wider meeting. Lots of the groups were presenting the same objections to the proposal; agreeing that it wasn’t the best solution to the problem. It was fantastic to hear groups sharing ideas and ways to improve the junction, many actually came up with very similar plans to make it work for everyone – businesses and residents alike. There were some strong and creative ideas to tackle lots of the issues residents face.
One resident, Clara, said:
“It was my first time attending, I’ve lived in Beeston Hill for many years and am passionate about the area. The issue they were talking about is important for all residents. When I walked in, I was surprised to see so many different people and backgrounds discussing this major change to Tempest Road. It was good to see locals debating the issue and trying to find creative solutions. We hope our voices can be heard and changes are made to this project. I was really, really happy with the way the meeting was organised, with lots of time for debate – really positive, looking for solutions.”
As always, we shared food together, (made by one of our committee members, Shaz) – this was a fantastic way to continue conversations and for people to get to know one another. There was such a positive atmosphere and it was great to see our community working together in the hope of bringing about change. Another of the attendees, John, said:
“It was good to see a room full of people who are passionate for their community and not afraid to voice their thoughts, concerns and opinions to those in authority. Hopefully Highways Leeds will make time and listen to what residents and business owners said. The hospitality was generous and tasty and well received. Let’s hope People Power wielded rightly, can improve many areas of Beeston Hill, including this junction on Dewsbury Road.”
All three ward councillors, Cllr Carlisle (Green), Cllr Iqbal (Labour) and Cllr Wray (Labour) were there to listen to what was being said. Towards the end of the meeting, they were given the chance to respond to what they had heard and give any further information. Those attending were reminded that ideas put forward by the community meeting may not be possible for various reasons (cost, objections from Highways or other agencies, etc) however when asked by the committee, all three Councillors agreed to arrange a meeting with officers from Highways and members of the BHCA committee.
This felt like a really positive step forward and a real opportunity to take the community’s views directly to those making the decisions; the BHCA committee is determined to make sure local voices are heard. Since Monday’s meeting we have already heard that Highways will welcome ideas from residents and “we provide feedback accordingly”.
Those at the meeting also stressed they wanted our councillors to represent the views given at the meeting to officers involved in the plans. The question was asked – if the current proposal has so many problems, could a new option be presented to Highways incorporating the suggestions made by residents? This is something we really hope to see happen; we obviously can’t make any guarantees but will try our best! The BHCA will continue to keep residents up to date on developments on this issue and feedback any information as we receive it.
If you want to contribute further to this debate or find out more about the BHCA please get in touch via our Facebook page, ‘Beeston Hill Community Association – Leeds‘. or email us on Thecommittee@beestonhillcommunityassociation.com
The next BHCA meeting will be a special community Iftar in partnership with The Hamara Centre (Tempest Road) on Monday 25 March 5-8pm. More details to follow.
Beeston Hill Community Association is a community led group which aims to give residents of Beeston Hill* the opportunity to get to know neighbours, share their views on community life and be heard. We hope to celebrate what is strong in our community, not simply focus on what is wrong. We would love to see residents getting to know one another, working together to speak up for the area and bring about change.
* Beeston Hill Community Association covers the old red brick housing around the Tempest Road area, down to Dewsbury Road, including areas such as the Harlechs, Woodviews, Stratfords and all surrounding streets.
This post was written by Sarah Hutchinson
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