Get ’em out by Friday…

Though I’ve not really been able to take part due to a profusion of essays and idiots jamming trolleys into my back, I have been watching with some interest the developments at the Royal Park School. For those who don’t know, this local landmark has been rotting for 5 years after the council closed it as a school. Various typically hollow promised have been made about returning it to the community which it seems ‘becuase of the recession’ (funny how that is an excuse for everything) have ‘failed’. Of course this failure is nothing to do with the political bullshit inherent in our city council.

Recently, a group of people moved into the building, where they repaired a significant amount of damage, made a number of things safe, and utilised the building in the way that the council itself has promised it would be used: as a resource for the community. The council has evicted them and is now seeking costs of over £3000, despite a request from Greg Mulholland that this not be the case.

I’m not going to go too far into my views on this event. I think they are obvious, or will become so. But one wonders two things: first, whether local politicians have any influence at all, and secondly, if one charitably accepts the first, where their loyaties lie.

I worte to Jaime Mathhews (and the other two useless fools that represent us in Headingley, neither of whom replied):

Dear Mr Mathews

I am writing to you regarding the current situation regarding the Royal Park School.

As you are aware many local residents feel very strongly that the council has continually prevaricated over the issue of this building, and that many of the responses given to local people’s concerns have been tantamount to lies, with a hidden underlying agenda that is not in line with local residents’ best interests.

I am writing to communicate my full support for the current action taking place within this building. It saddens me that as a councilor elected by the residents of Hyde Park you have chosen in the press not to support the wishes and actions of local people, but tow the council’s line of ‘health and safety’. For what is is worth, I can assure you that many of the people involved in this project are known to me and have experience and qualifications in the work they are undertaking. Sadly that level of expertise did not seem matched by the ‘security’ on whom the council has spent over £20 000 of our money to allow the building to fall into such disrepair (though I guess this is fortuitous in the end in allowing local people to access the building).

The people involved in this work have done something that the council, and (by your seeming inaction you as councillors) have failed to do; that is putting their time where their mouth is and doing something constructive for the benefit of the local community.

I understand from the council’s statement on today’s Look North that Leeds City Council is preparing legal action to evict the people doing this work.

I would like to know your views on this, as it seems that you cannot claim to support the local community, whilst agreeing with the councils actions (and previous inaction).

I am writing to you, as someone who helped vote you into your current position (something I am close to coming to regret) to ask that you take every action within your power to prevent the eviction of the residents of the building, and this this is with the aim of handing over the building to community control, in order to allow local people to show that in the same amount of time that this building has been left to rot they can reverse the damage done by Leeds City Council and create a useful and community owned space from this building.

If you are not willing to do this, I hope you will take time to think about your position, as it seems that you are more in line with the overall aims of the Council, rather than the aims of the people you have been elected to represent.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Christian Bodden

OK, I may have sounded a bit stroppy. But the reply was a fucking joke:

Dear Christian

I must say I think you have, from the outset, misrepresented my views.

Yes I am concerned about peoples’ safety in the building, it would be irresponsible for me not to be. However, I went in on Sunday afternoon myself and had a walk round with Sue Buckle, Ted Winter and Andy Beresford, who all know that I am supportive of their aims, which is what I said in the Evening Post.

I am adamant and I am doing everything I can to save that building. It’s worth noting that from the day the previous administration closed the school local Lib Dem Councillors have done everything to ensure the building stays standing. I understand there were plenty of bids to demolish the building and build something else originally but local Councillors insisted the building remained, and remained in community use. We had, in my view, a very good bid from Rushbond which would have included keeping the building, converting it into elderly flats, a community space and a brand new library – this of course fell through because of the recession.

I personally do not support them being evicted from the building as they are doing a good job, and I told them this on Sunday. However, as I have said, I am concerned about their safety but I am supporting their efforts to work with council officers to legitimately and safely be in the building.

It’s a bit insulting to suggest we have a record of inaction on this one, this is not true. I have consistently demanded that the building be a) refurbished and kept in community use and b) in the interim the roof be repaired and the building be made safe. I have been ignored and overridden by Council officers – this is something I will be continuing to demand. I have not been told about any legal action to evict them but I will endeavour to find out what is going on.

I hope this clearly sets out my views for you.



Councillor Jamie Matthews
Headingley Ward

I like the phrase ‘insulting’. It is one you tend to hear when you have made a point that someone dislikes. One that perhaps touches a nerve, makes them think about their errors and ways.

Oddly, the eviction happened two days later. Either Matthews is as naive as his colleague Monaghan, a liar, or just thinks he can fob off someone who doesn’t appeciate his politics. Maybe all three.

What this event has highlighted is the real lack of interest in this area from the council. I note that some (mostly Labour) councillors from nearby have shown quite an interest and considerably more proactive support. But of course it is electioneering, as the flyer through my door proved the other day. So I would, personally, counsel against too much trust in them.

I’ve commented on these before – but to review: I’ve mentioned Monaghan before, standing up and displaying he cannot even be bothered to learn a bit of history about the area he ‘represents’, but has made it quite clear he will never live in. He was assigned to discuss my issue with the way the bin-yard fines was handled and the ludicrous response from environmental services about the problems in my area. He plainly did not actually read my comments and request for help/advice, just kept forwarding it to the person concerned. OK, he was a bit busy at the time valiantly trying to beat the BNP to the Yorkshire and Humberside Seat, but lets face it he’d probably move to Kent with his MEP’s salary, saying the North was a bit scummy, like he did about Hyde Park, in Leeds student.

Matthews: Well, this incident is clear. He also claimed he would help with various noise issues, the general lack of local nous indicated by the Police, being threatened by builders wrecking local houses. A veriatble Yes-Man, he was. But nothing really came of it, like everything it faded away when he’d made some lame and false promises.

As for Hamilton: Well, I contacted him about the same issues. It took a complaint to the council to get a response (not from him, he was on an extended holiday apparently). I wonder if he exists.

This leave our worthy MP, Mulholland. I also wonder if he exists. I have never heard from him at all, in reply to any letter I have sent. Probably for the best – a friend of mind contacted him about the embryology bill, and got the reply that her request was counter to his religious beleifs, so he could not address her concerns.

Meanwhile, Hyde Park falls into disrepair, the mess from the bin strike, half of it made by the scabs they employed, still fills our streets. My plants grow legs and wander down the street to be found dead in student houses, the same ones that try and blame people who complain about their continual noise for that same noise, and worse. Raw sewerage pumps from broken pipes when one bedroom houses are converted to house six.

I don’t know what it is like for those whose ward reflects where they live? I apparently live in Headingley, quite how that works I don’t know. I hope I don’t get asked to pay a parish precept for Headingley to have the Town Council it wants. They will care about us in the Harolds and Thornvilles about as much as the Lib Dems care for anyone except the student vote they want. But I doubt anyone else will truely be any better.