South of the River – A design for life

Compass-SouthComment logo 2I’m guessing that this column is going to please no one.

My regular readers will be expecting something witty, pithy and topical about how some feature of modern life particularly affects us here in South Leeds. People who disagree with me on a certain planning application will be annoyed that I’m banging on about that again and not changing my mind.

I’ve thought long and hard about this. I need to report on a public statement issued by the Aspiring Communities Steering Group, but I’m one of the signatories, so I’m heavily involved in the story. My solution is to report in this clearly marked ‘op ed’ piece with a clear ‘comment’ logo in friendly red letters. This is my personal opinion, not South Leeds Life’s view (SLL doesn’t have a view).

OK so what is this statement? It’s a simple restating of the position of the Steering Group. You can read it in full on the Aspiring Communities website. It starts by explaining that the group is basically a sounding board for the charity made up of people who support their aims of better integration. It then tries to dispel some of the myths that exist about the Aspiring Communities project.

I’m assuming you are all familiar with the story so far. AC have bought the former Ice Pak factory site on Barkly Road in Beeston. Its two planning applications have received many objections. The first batch of objections were organised by the Beeston Campaign for Affordable Homes and the second by the Save Our Beeston campaign.

If you do need to catch up just type Aspiring Communities into the Search box in the right hand column of this page, just above the What’s On calendar.

The most pressing problem with the project is that it will increase traffic in the area. There’s no denying it, compared to a derelict ex-factory site with no activity, there will be more traffic when it’s developed. This applies no matter way is built there. Even, perhaps especially if it ended up being housing. This is modern life. I wish people didn’t drive as much, I wish I didn’t drive as much, but people do.

Aspiring Communities have gone out of their way to provide on site parking. In doing so they have fuelled fear that many people will drive to the site. Every day, at all hours of the day, especially at the time of the school run. I hope Aspiring Communities’ activities are going to be successful, but there’s no way the car park will be full all day.

Other comments we’ve seen have been that the sports hall is really a mosque in disguise and the centre will become a Jihadi training base. Both of these are nonsense. The fact that there is a prayer room in the building does not make it a mosque any more than a gathering of Christians praying in a house turns the house into a church.

The Steering Group and Aspiring Communities have a very strong emphasis on the Prevent agenda. The point of encouraging integration is to undercut the dangerous ideas of fundamentalism. That’s why West Yorkshire Police work with us. And sport is a great way to get people from different backgrounds together, that’s why Hunslet Rugby Foundation are working with us.

Hundreds, thousands of people in Beeston have declared their opposition to the project. Democracy is about the rule of majority, no? Well hmmm, here’s the thing. How was the project presented to the people who signed the petition?

I’m afraid they haven’t convinced me to change my mind. Let’s see what influence they have on the South & West Plans Panel – the people who will actually make the decision.

At South Leeds Life we do try to be balanced. So for example when the Save Our Beeston campaign raised concerns about AC supporters holding extreme views, we asked AC to comment. This time we asked SOB for a comment on the Steering Group statement. Whilst they did say on their Facebook page that they would comment, we haven’t received a formal comment to date.

I’ll be back next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.

17 Replies to “South of the River – A design for life”

  1. I had wondered about WYPs view so encouraging to see they think it is a positive re Prevent and community relations.

    Today’s horrible general election result signals the start of a further assault on our public services, so this investment is a rare opportunity to add to the community.

  2. Your comments Jeremy are slowly becoming a laughing matter in Beeston . See you at the Beeston Forum meeting next Thursday . Bring John with you too !!

  3. There u go again Sean, speaking on behalf of Beeston. The only people u speak for are the handful of UKIP supporters polluting SOB facebook. Most of the people who’ve written to object about Ice Pak do not share your other views.

    Before u ask, I live in Beeston. I won’t be at the forum as I have caring responsibilities.

    1. Makes a change playing the UKIP card rather than the racist card.

      Thanks Maureen 🙂

  4. Good report Jeremy and well said John and Maureen. Sadly ukip scored high in Leeds Central – over 7000 votes! Many of us will work hard in the coming months and years for peace and unity and against bigotry and persecution and division. eg Greens received several thousand votes too. This summer to remember the tragedy that was 7/7 we will hold a Peace and Unity event and this can isolate the minority of mis-informed people in the area. I think this possible development by ACs can only be a positive thing, attractive physically and providing much needed facilities for all and for those who do not wish to access it they do not have to. Peace!

    1. Liz – you came last in the election with a pathetic 330 votes.
      Surely this gives you an insight into what the people of Leeds think of your views and ideals?
      Your comment here is an example of arrogance and contempt for anyone who may think different to you. You have more in common with some of the most extreme UKIP members than you care to realise….

      1. I’d love to know on which occasions I’ve behaved in a bigoted or divisive way, or condoned the persecution of people.

        I’d suggest Liz turn her thoughts to the hustings at the West Indian Centre which she was desperate to hijack – and recall my comments about treatment for asylum seekers or those from the travelling community.

        Or perhaps ask Lee Jasper what his views on me are.


        Of course it’ll never happen – it’s much easier to remain incredibly closed minded and intolerant of those who do not share your views.

        Rich can testify that whilst he and I disagree on certain matters – be it local or national – the discussion always remains amicable without any insults being hurled in either direction.

        Something which you are clearly incapable of.

  5. Another riveting work of fiction Jeremy, Im amazed you are still singing from the AC hymn sheet even though you must know you have been lied to promote the march of islam.

    Liz your ideas and political leaning went down like a lead balloon . i would suggest you hang up your guardian and mind your own business regarding whats built in this area.
    A sodding great mosque is neither attractive physically (unless your in Islamabad ) or wanted by the vast majority of local people.

  6. Dave – there are idiots in all parties, who make stupid comments that shouldn’t be deemed to be representative of the remainder of their members.

    Be that Diane Abbott’s various gaffes, or a UKIP councillor making derogatory comments about gay people.

    Anyone in their right mind would distance themselves completely from those kind of people, something I would do if the situation presented itself.

  7. I’m not hurt by personal insults pleased with the number of votes, we don’t have money to be all over the mass media like the big parties. Nor have I called anybody extreme. The election is over and the point now is to campaign over inequality, poverty, housing, injustice, racism and war. We must save our NHS and Education and Social Services from privatisation (theft). I shall be supporting this community facility until I see anything actually wrong with it.

    1. Liz – the issue is that the AC development is in the wrong place!
      The proposal is designed to bring hundreds of people (sometimes more) into a residential area. Something that will do nothing but blight the people who live nearby.
      This is why over 2000 local residents have made it known that they oppose the plans!

      Your points about inequality, poverty, housing, injustice, racism, war and privatisation of services – get that totally. All noble endeavours that I too support
      But whilst you continue to dictate that the people of Beeston Village should have to put up with the unwanted development on Barkly Rd, I just can’t take your campaign seriously.

  8. I just can’t see how people can be blighted by a community facility. And I am worried about the opposition being based on religious/cultural/racist elements. Whatever is developed there will bring traffic and people. As I said in my original contribution different community centres exist all over the city and people live with them, sometimes enjoy them and sometimes join in and learn from them. I live in just such an area of the city myself. Unlike others posting here, none of my comments are aimed at individuals nor are they sarcastic and hurtful. If Leeds City Council had been prepared to provide affordable housing then good, or if a developer had been prepared to build houses to buy then ok, but they haven’t. So a community facility can only be a good thing providing all manner of voluntary activities to various demographics. You may find that none of the big parties will be campaigning over the things I listed above but TUSC will. Peace.

    1. Hi Liz. Ok, lets spin the debate about Aspiring Communities and Barkly Rd on its head a bit…
      Given all the opposition that has been made to the development, why do you think Aspiring Communities are so determined to continue with the proposals and get them pushed through?
      Why would they be so adamant at investing huge amounts of money, effort and time into a facility that is rejected by the people they say it is there to cater for?

  9. I can only assume that they want to get on with it given the effort and investment. It is up to people to use or ignore the facility. As it is now in the hands of the panel we can only wait and see what develops from the consultation. As I have arrived at this discussion later than everyone else I am trying to catch up and having looked through the many comments some of them do bother me.

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