On the 6th August 2010, Parks and Countryside began work converting two of the bowling greens on Woodhouse Moor to a small football pitch. The work was the result of a proposal by Headingley and Hyde Park’s Councillor Jonathan Pryor, even though the bowling greens aren’t in his ward. Friends of Woodhouse Moor immediately protested that there had been no consultation, and works were halted as a result.
On the 14th August 2020, Parks and Countryside sent out consultation forms. These had to be returned by the 28th August. Representations to Little London and Woodhouse councillor Kayleigh Brooks, obtained an extension of the deadline by one week to Friday the 4th September. A further request was made to Councillor Brooks to extend the deadline by an additional three weeks, on the ground that the consultation was taking place during August and August Bank Holiday week, the two most popular holiday times of the year. The request was met with the response that it would require the agreement of six councillors, those of Headingley and Hyde Park ward, and those of Little London and Woodhouse ward. When it was pointed out to Councillor Brooks that the bowling greens are in her own ward, and therefore the agreement of just three councillors was required, she failed to respond.
A similar request for an extension was made to Parks and Countryside, and was ignored. A phone call to Little London and Woodhouse councillor Javaid Akhtar was met with the response that he was busy and would call the caller back. No such call has been received. Representations to Councillor Mohammed Rafique (Parks and Countryside), Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Environment), and Councillor Judith Blake (Leader of the council) were also ignored.
The Friends of Woodhouse Moor first learnt about the proposal in July 2019 and decided to oppose it, preferring instead to support committee member Sue Buckle’s suggestion that there should be a “flower labyrinth” on the site of the two former bowling greens.
The cost of converting the bowling greens to a football pitch has been estimated at £15k. The site will of course be used mostly by students.
Three years ago, Councillor Pryor promised the Friends that Cinder Moor would be returned to its original function as a sports field (it was levelled in 1884 to form a cricket pitch and in the 20th century was used for cricket and football until the council designated the site, along with others in Leeds, as a heliport, a purpose for which it was never used). If the bowling greens are converted to a football pitch, it is likely to become much more difficult to restore Cinder Moor as a sports field.
According to a police estimate, between 300 and 400 people attended a rave last night on Woodhouse Moor. The rave’s organisers had brought along a powerful sound system. Local residents were kept awake by the rave until 4am. Police did not intervene to stop the rave, but instead decided to “monitor” the situation i.e. do nothing. Raves are not a litter problem. They’re a threat to public health being perpetrated by a small and selfish minority. If the council and West Yorkshire Police are too short staffed to deal with them, then what is the point of these bodies?
An illegal rave took place last night on Woodhouse Moor. Volunteers and council workers spent this morning clearing up the mess. Local resident and chair of South Headingley Community Association, Sue Buckle said, “I have never seen so many nitrous oxide cylinders. There were hundreds.” She added, “It’s really frustrating and depressing when people treat it as if it’s their own place, trash it and then get up and leave.”
You can read more about what happened in Leeds Live.
An organisation connected to the English Defence League, known as ‘The UK Freedom Movement,” is planning events across the country to protest against the Covid-19 restrictions. On Thursday, Jayda Fransen, a former leader of the anti-Muslim group Britain First, publicised a month old YouTube channel called “The British Freedom Movement.” Fransen is the sole director of a company created on the 30th April called Freedom Movement Ltd.
As part of the nationwide protest, events are planned to begin at 12 noon tomorrow Saturday 16th May on Woodhouse Moor and Middleton Park. Posters invite people to bring a picnic and music, and to say “no” to the Coronavirus Bill.
The police have said that they will break up the anti-lockdown protests amidst warnings that the events could be exploited by the far right.
The gatherings would contravene the government’s advice on social distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Coronavirus Bill, officially known as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, states that the police have the power to fine people £100 for refusing to follow the regulations. The fine doubles to £200 for a second and subsequent offences, to a maximum of £3,200.
You can read more about the people behind the protests in this Guardian article.
Blocked drains, drains covered in tarmac, and damaged drains have all contributed to the marshy conditions which have become standard on Woodhouse Moor. Beneath the Moor are five springs which used to make the park very wet. Drains were laid in the 1860s to take away this spring water and to leave the Moor dry. All went well for over a hundred years. Then the council started to allow heavy lorries onto the park. These damaged the fragile clay drains laid by the Victorians. Contractors laid tarmac on top of the original concrete paths, at the same time, covering over many of the original drains. As a result of these mistakes, a large pond appeared for the first time about fifteen years ago at the end of the flat area of the main Moor nearest to the former Grammar School. Then two years ago, a second pond appeared very close to the one that appeared fifteen years ago. The latest pond is adjacent to the grass verge that borders Woodhouse Lane.
This year, because of work taking place at Elland Road, the huge St Valentine’s Fair, which normally takes place at Elland Road, was relocated to Woodhouse Moor. Whilst Cinder Moor was being used to stage this year’s St Valentine’s Fair, the lower half of Monument Moor was being used to house the stall holders’ caravans. This was labelled “Car Park A.” Meanwhile, the upper half of Monument Moor was used by car borne visitors to the fair. Their car park was labelled “Car Park B.” Cinder Moor was scalped in preparation for the arrival of the fair. This means that soil and grass was removed from its flat surface. It appears that the upper half of Monument Moor was also scalped. The fair without its lights, was not pretty to behold. I felt sorry for the stall holders. The weather has not been kind to them. The entire area was a sea of mud.
The government has announced that the burning of wet wood in England is to be phased out by 2023. Whilst this will mostly affect people who use wood burning stoves, it is also likely to put an end to Leeds City Council’s practice of staging huge public bonfires on public parks every 5th November. Currently, these bonfires are put together using damp pallet wood and other waste wood. When such wood is burnt, it creates a great deal of smoke and harmful PM2.5 particulate matter. John Maingay of the British Heart Foundation said: “Wood and coal burning accounts for 40% of harmful levels of background PM2.5 in the UK, and our research has shown that toxic PM2.5 can enter the bloodstream and damage our heart and circulatory system. Phasing out sales of coal and wet wood is a vital first step towards protecting the nation’s health from toxic air … however, we must not stop there. Air pollution is a major public health challenge, and it requires an urgent and bold response.”
The details of the government’s plans are contained in this Guardian article.
Contrary to what you might expect, the fact that the former Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward has a death rate from respiratory disease three times the Leeds average, does not make Councillor Mulherin want to do something to improve the health of the residents of the former ward. The annual bonfire on Woodhouse Moor, the scalping of Cinder Moor to double its car parking capacity, and the cutting down of mature trees bordering Woodhouse Lane that would be necessitated by Connecting Leeds, are not acts of God. They are acts of Leeds City Council employees and they could be stopped if Councillor Mulherin had the will and determination to stop them.