As we reach the end of December it’s time to look back at the big stories of 2023.
Our biggest story, as measured in online page views, was also one of the first we published this year. Some might call it a rant, but as the author I prefer to think it was a clearly reasoned opinion piece. The provocative headline, Please don’t feed the birds! meant that it took off and had a life of its own online, far away from South Leeds.
Our next biggest story was a much sadder tale that broke at the end of November, when two swans were found shot in Middleton Park. The community was shocked, saddened and angy, as reflected in the comments. A teenager was arrested, but he has been ruled out of the enquiry by police and will face no further action. The identity of the attacker remains as mysterious as what was going on in their head.
Another mystery was the closure of the Nisa store, the former Co-op, in Beeston in June. It was certainly a mystery to the staff who didn’t know whether they still had a job, or whether they would be paid. We learned a few skills covering this story around commercial law and winding up orders. Thankfully the shop is now under the control of a new franchisee who seems to be running a much better operation.
Planning and development issues are always of interest to our readers and two from Middleton made a particular impression. Planning applications from a company to convert two houses into children’s homes provoked interest, as did a first look inside the new extra care flats at Gascoigne House built on part of the former Throstle recreation ground. Both were written by regular contributor Ken Ingram who had just moved into the new flats.
We publish a lot of articles about events going on at the White Rose Shopping Centre, which are always well read, but the story that made our list was the Impact Report that they published this year. With the centre employing over 3,000 staff it certainly is important to our local economy.
Here’s the full list of our most read stories online this year:
|Please don’t feed the birds!
|Teenager arrested after swan shooting
|What’s going on at Beeston Nisa?
|Bus changes from Sunday
|Two small children’s homes set to open in Middleton
|Beeston Nisa franchisee wound up
|Tragedy as two swans shot in Middleton Park
|Middleton man jailed for child abuse
|Nisa staff at closed store ‘left in the dark’
|White Rose Shopping Centre issues first impact report
|Pedestrian killed in Belle Isle crash
|First bus announces Christmas service plans
|My move to new extra care flats at Gascoigne House
|Belle Isle man charged with jewellers break in
|M621 junction 2a slip road to close permanently in June
Of course, as well as the website we publish a monthly print newspaper. We can’t measure which articles get read the most, but we put what we think is the most important and/or interesting story on the front page. These were our front page headlines in 2023:
Just collect our rubbish! We reported on the continued fustration of residents on the Cottingley Hall estate over the poor refuse collection service they were receiving.
A slient emergency In February we ran a series of articles about male suicide. We spoke to local people directly affected and to the services that are trying to save lives.
Don’t lose your vote The government introduced new rules that you had to provide ID at polling stations, despite the very low incidence of voter fraud. We highlighted the issue so that readers could make sure they were able to vote in the local elections.
Bus cuts hit South Leeds The timetable changes in April removed or reduced a number of routes in South Leeds making getting to work and school very difficult for some residents.
Celebrating South Leeds successes We had more positive news in May and celebrated Harrison Spinks winning another Queen’s Award for Industry and former councillor Angela Gabriel receiving the Creative Lives Community Champion Award.
Beeston resident is new Lord Mayor Whilst not representing a South Leeds ward, Cllr Al Garthwaite has lived in Beeston for decades and is a stalwart of local community life.
Beeston Nisa wound up As mentiuoned above, we dug into what was really going on at the former Beeston Co-op.
100 not out We became the story as we celebrated our 100th print edition in September. This website started life in November 2010 and our first newspaper was published in June 2014.
Stingers to be used on quads Our new Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Mark Lund revealed that his teams had been trained in the use of stingers and these would be deployed when appropriate to stop anti-social quad bikes.
Let’s get our buses back! The Mayor of West Yorkshire is taking action to re-regulate our bus services which have been controlled by private companies since the 1980s. We look forward to a franchising scheme coming in 2024.
£15.9m for Heart of Holbeck It was announced that Holbeck’s bid for ‘levelling up’ funding had been successful. The funds will see the redevelopment of St Matthew’s Community Centre by Holbeck Together as well as housing, retail and public realm improvements in the area.
So that was 2023, stay tuned for more local news, written by and for local people, coming your way in 2024.
While you’re here, can we ask a favour?
South Leeds Life is published by a not-for-profit social enterprise. We keep our costs as low as possible but we’ve been hit by increases in the print costs for our monthly newspaper which have doubled in the last two years.
Could you help support local community news by making a one off donation, or even better taking out a supporters subscription?
Donate here, or sign up for a subscription at bit.ly/SLLsubscribe