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.
As well as emailing the three Headingley and Hyde Park councillors to ask their approval for scalping Cinder Moor, officers at Parks and Countryside will have obtained the approval of Councillor Mohammed Rafique. Councillor Rafique is the Executive Member with responsibility for the Environment and Active Lifestyles. This portfolio includes Parks and Countryside. Even though Councillor Rafique is responsible for protecting the environment, this does not extend to protecting the environment on Woodhouse Moor. In addition to allowing the scalping of Cinder Moor, he is quite content to allow the annual bonfire to go ahead, despite the appalling air quality and much higher than average death rate in the surrounding area. The reasons he gives for his sanguine attitude to the bonfire are (1) it’s popular, and (2) it helps to prevent anti social behaviour elsewhere.
Whilst the main Moor is in Little London and Woodhouse ward, Cinder Moor and Monument Moor are in Headingley and Hyde Park ward. This is why responsibility for the scalping of Cinder Moor rests with the Headingley councillors pictured above. All three of them will have been emailed by officers at Parks and Countryside about the proposal, prior to giving it their approval. In making their decision, it’s unlikely they took into account the council’s own figures which show that the former Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward, which comprised the Moor and the areas surrounding the Moor, had a death rate from respiratory disease three times the Leeds average. But then how can we expect councillors whose primary interest is Headingley, to know details such as this about neighbouring Hyde Park and Woodhouse.
Three years ago, Headingley and Hyde Park councillor Jonathan Pryor was keen to restore Cinder Moor to grass so that the youth of the surrounding area could have somewhere to play sport on. He calculated that there was £400k available to spend on the Moor and that in addition to restoring Cinder Moor, the money could be used to replace missing trees, repair tarmac paths etc. Three years on and nothing has been done. What’s changed? Why has Councillor Pryor lost interest in a project that once seemed so dear to his heart? What’s changed is that Councillor Pryor was promoted to the council’s Executive Board, and now has much bigger fish to fry. His title is, “Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment.” And what about the £400k? Isn’t that still available to be spent on the Moor? Maybe some of it is. A good chunk though is likely to have been spent “scalping” Cinder Moor just before Christmas, so as to double its car parking capacity. Cinder Moor is in Cllr Pryor’s ward of Headingley and Hyde Park. When he and his fellow councillors Neil Walshaw and Al Garthwaite agreed to the scalping of Cinder Moor, were they aware that the council’s own figures show that the death rate from respiratory disease in the surrounding area is three times the Leeds average? Were they also aware that the area is chronically short of sports fields, and that Cinder Moor was used as a sports field until 1953? I don’t know about the other two, but Cllr Pryor was aware. I know, because I told him more than three years ago.
According to an article published in today’s Guardian newspaper, almost a quarter of people in the UK are being exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution with potentially devastating health consequences. This finding comes from a study by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) which found that about 15 million people in the UK live in areas where average levels of PM2.5 – a tiny toxic particle that predominantly comes from vehicle emissions, wood burning and construction – exceeds guidelines set by the World Health Foundation. Exposure to PM2.5 has serious health implications, especially for children, increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Jacob West of the BHF said everyone has a role to play in demanding a healthier environment. “We are urging people to write to their MP to demand a change to the law. The more pressure we put on decision makers, the better our chances of cleaning up our air.” Perhaps we should pass this information on to Leeds City Council. Perhaps then, they would stop building car parks on public parks in deprived inner city areas.
An article in today’s Guardian newspaper refers to a study published yesterday which found that species which have evolved in tropical regions such Australia’s wet tropics, the Guinean forests of Western Africa and the Andes Mountains will come under increasing stress as the planet warms. Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study modelled global land and ocean temperatures and rainfall for the past 21,000 years.
Connecting Leeds is the name chosen by Metro and the Highways Department for their latest transport scheme. It’s the successor to New Generation Transport (the failed trolleybus scheme), an earlier brainchild of Metro and the Highways Department. The purpose of both organisations appears to be to remove as much green space and heritage as possible along the A660. If the latest scheme goes ahead, the inbound bus stop at Hyde Park Corner would be enlarged, resulting in the loss of several mature trees. The central reservation would be removed and it’s lighting columns re-located to the verges on either side of the the dual carriageway. This would result in the loss of a great many trees which otherwise would block light from the re-located street lamps. The scheme would also result in the loss of all the outbound York stone pavement, and an unspecified amount of the grass verge inbound between Hyde Park Corner and Rampart Road. It would also create a new inbound bus lane on the grass verge and York stone pavement between Rampart Road and Raglan Road. If you think this sounds similar to what was being proposed under New Generation Transport, you’d be right. Only this would be even worse.
Until 1953, all of Cinder Moor was covered in grass. It had been like that since 1884 when the council levelled it to form a cricket pitch. in the 20th century, it was used for playing football on as well. Then in 1953, the council designated the site as a heliport and covered it in cinders. Although the planned heliport was never built, nobody ever played on it again. Instead the council allowed the university to use it from time to time for overflow parking for visitors to the university. The city re-designated the site as green space in 1973, but never restored the original surface. Until it was “scalped,” a process which began on the 19th December 2019, half of the site looked as shown in the above photo. Scalping removed all of the soil and grass which had accumulated over the years, and replaced it with re-cycled tarmac, in effect, doubling the site’s car parking capacity. The process of scalping could not have taken place without the agreement of the Headingley councillors, in whose ward Cinder Moor is located.
Leeds University made two planning applications to re-develop its St Mark’s Flats site adjacent to Monument Moor. The first was application 10/00407/FU made on 3.2.10. The second was application 11/04449/FU made on 20.10.11
Here’s a copy of the officer’s report dated 20.5.10 on the first planning application. At paragraph 10.39, it states that the university wanted all of the £150,000 s106 greenspace contribution to be spent on improving Monument Moor and Cinder Moor. It also states that officers wouldn’t agree to this, and recommended refusal of the application if the university didn’t agree to what they wanted.
The application was approved on 26.10.10 just four days after the university had signed a section 106 agreement (dated 22.10.10) agreeing to what the officers wanted. Isn’t this called blackmail? Here’s the section 106 agreement.
Then, in 20.10.11, the university submitted amended planning application 11/04449/FU. Here’s the officer’s report. The application was given approval on 17.1.12, one day after the university signed a section 106 agreement very similar to the one it had signed a year earlier.
The first £73,757.32 was payable on the first occupation of the flats (ie October 2013). The second £73,757.31 is payable on the first anniversary of the occupation of the flats (i.e October 2014). The money must be spent within ten years of it being given to the council. Half of the money must be spent on greenspace improvement in the area. Half of it must be spent on Woodhouse Moor.
The council promised as part of the agreement to consult with local councillors AND local residents to find out how they want the money spent (so far there’s been no consultation with local residents).
When the Valentine’s Fair comes to Leeds from the 14th to the 23rd of February, it will re-locate from Elland Road to Woodhouse Moor, more specifically, to the part of Woodhouse Moor nick-named “Cinder Moor.” Cinder Moor was levelled in 1884 to create a cricket pitch. It was used as such until 1953 when the council re-designated the area as a heliport, which was never built. The site was not restored to grass even though it was re-designated as green space in 1973. The council intends that visitors to the fair, should park their cars on neighbouring Monument Moor. Monument Moor was levelled in the late 19th century to create an outdoor gymnasium. The gymnasium’s swings gave the this part of Woodhouse Moor its former nickname, “Swing Moor.” The swings were removed during the war to make way for an air raid shelter. This was removed in 1950 when the site was being prepared for the visit the following year of the Festival of Britain Land Travelling Exhibition. Flower beds were created to ornament the Exhibition. The council promised to permanently maintain these flower beds, but failed to keep its promise. The still extant large area of tarmac dates from the time of the Exhibition, as do the tarmac paths. The site’s current nickname, “Monument Moor” comes from the statue to the former mayor H R Marsden. This statue used to be located at the top of Albion Street. It had been in storage for many years when it was relocated to Woodhouse Moor in 1952.