June 20, 2011

JOHN EGAN’S PRESENTATION

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:41 pm

Leader of the the Council Keith Wakefield presents Woodhouse Moor’s head gardener John Egan with a framed photograph in recognition of his hard work over many years caring for Woodhouse Moor and helping to keep it the best looking park in the city. On the left of the photograph is the Council’s Chief Executive Tom Riordan, and on the right, Sue Buckle from Friends of Woodhouse Moor.

June 8, 2011

JOHN EGAN RETIRES

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:52 pm

Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers

John Egan retired today after 40 years with Parks and Countryside. This major event was covered in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post.

December 25, 2009

THE SNOWMAN

Filed under: General — Bill @ 11:41 am

I met Dave and Ellie on the Moor yesterday. It had been snowing and they’d just finished building a snowman. I reckon it’s the best snowman I’ve ever seen.

November 29, 2009

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE ZERO TOLERANCE ?

Filed under: ASB,Byelaws,General,LCC — Bill @ 6:17 pm

These photographs were taken in late Spring 2009 and are evidence of the anti social behaviour that takes place regularly on Woodhouse Moor. How can Leeds City Council allow such behaviour when at page 27 of its Vision for Leeds 2004 to 2020, it claims :

Making Leeds Europe’s cleanest and greenest city is an important principle for our Vision and we will launch a project to improve pride in the city. The project will:

  • draw together the actions of many organisations and businesses in Leeds to reduce litter, wastefulness and pollution;
  • promote individual rights and responsibilities to tackle these problems;
  • challenge those who create problems for others to solve;
  • create a zero-tolerance culture – the council and the Environment Agency will work together to reduce litter, abandoned cars, graffiti, stray dogs and dog fouling;
  • encourage big public-sector organisations like the council, universities, health service and private businesses to reduce waste, limit pollution and use natural resources much more efficiently; and
  • improve the quality of and access to our local parks and green spaces.

August 9, 2009

A CALL FOR STRONG LEADERSHIP

Filed under: ASB,Barbeque consultation,Byelaws,General,LCC — Bill @ 9:42 am

Keith Wakefield

The leader of the Labour group is calling for Leeds City Council to take action against those who damage the park through their anti social behaviour. In a letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Councillor Wakefield says that the council’s proposal to legalise barbeques sends out the wrong message. The council is effectively saying to potential lawbreakers that Leeds City Council will reward them by changing the law to make their activities legal.  Councillor Wakefield is calling for there to be strong leadership on the issue of barbeques, and for the existing byelaws to be enforced.

July 25, 2009

BIKERS’ HEAVEN, RESIDENTS’ HELL

Filed under: ASB,Byelaws,General,LCC,Police — Bill @ 9:12 pm

Litter everywhere

Bikers from all over the city gathered this evening on Woodhouse Moor to commemorate the loss of one of their number. An article that appeared in last night’s Yorkshire Evening Post invited people to attend and said there would be a barbeque. I was alerted to the event by one of the Friends who telephoned to say there was a massive fire on the Moor. By the time I got there, the fire had burnt itself out, and although all you could see were the smoking remains of a sofa, you could smell the fumes from it the moment your arrived at the park.

Burnt out sofa

The end of the park where the skatepark is located was full of bikers, and there were bikes and litter scattered everywhere. Many of the bikers were drinking.

Empty cans and bottles

While all this was going on, two extremely noisy quad bikes drove at great speed up the nearby path that leads to the Victoria Memorial. The two PCSOs standing at the bus stop did nothing. This gathering is further evidence that our park is being used by people from all over the city for illegal events that involve anti-social behaviour. Because of the refusal by Leeds City Council and the police to enforce the byelaws and uphold the law generally on the Moor, our local park, which we pay for, has been handed over to yobs from all over the city.

July 24, 2009

HOT OFF THE PRESS

Filed under: General — Bill @ 9:15 pm

Barding up the right tree

There were letters in Monday’s paper from Tony Crooks, Maurice, Felicity and Dominic King, and Christine Golton. Tony was pointing out that there’s statistical evidence that suggests that the survey forms were delivered to just a fraction of the houses that should have received them. The Kings in their letter expose how difficult it would be to enforce designated barbeque areas, and the likelihood that barbeques would continue all over the park. Christine Golton expressed scepticism about the council’s claim that it would be difficult to enforce the byelaw banning barbeques, asking why the byelaws exist in the first place, and pointing out they’re enforced in other parks. Then on Wednesday, there were letters from Hilary Benn and Colin Smith. Mr Benn was calling for everyone to make their voice heard before it’s too late. And Colin Smith set out a list of reasons why barbeques in parks are a bad idea. Finally in today’s paper, there was an article by columnist Oliver Cross about the NGT proposal and the tendency these days to view trees as nothing more than replaceable carbon sequestration units. This article is from Oliver’s regular Friday night column, which today mostly deals with Oliver’s thoughts about his recent visit to Dagmar Wood to view a Theatre of the Dales production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

July 15, 2009

DEPUTATION TO FULL COUNCIL

Filed under: ASB,Barbeque consultation,Byelaws,General,LCC — Bill @ 7:57 am

Martin Staniforth

Earlier today, Martin Staniforth led a deputation of local residents to a meeting of the full council to ask for the proposal to establish barbeque areas on Woodhouse Moor to be scrapped, and for the flawed consultation exercise to be abandoned. In addition to Martin, who is the chair of North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association, the deputation included statistician Professor John Kent, and representatives of South Headingley Community Association, Marlborough Residents’ Association and Friends of Woodhouse Moor. Here’s is the speech that Martin gave to the council :

“Lord Mayor, Councillors, my name is Martin Staniforth and my colleagues are Sue Buckle, Richard Hellawell, Tony Green and Professor John Kent. I welcome the opportunity to speak to you today to oppose the Council’s unpopular, expensive and damaging plan to concrete over part of Woodhouse Moor, though I am sad that it is still necessary to do so. I am speaking on behalf of all the community groups in the Hyde Park and Woodhouse area. More importantly I am speaking on behalf of the hundreds of local people who have objected to this scheme at meetings and in writing, and the thousands who have been denied a voice because of the Council’s failure to deliver consultation packs to them.

Lord Mayor, I want to concentrate on three issues. First, the proposal itself. This would involve sinking 40 large concrete blocks into an open, grassy area of the Moor to allow for up to 80 barbecues to be lit at any one time. Local people have strongly opposed this plan both because of the impact it would have and because it is another sign of the Council’s lack of concern for Woodhouse Moor. What used to be an open space for all to enjoy is becoming an area where, on sunny weekends, many people feel uncomfortable and unsafe because of the drunkenness, vandalism and anti-social behaviour which goes on there, apparently unchecked. Local people don’t want to see money wasted on concrete blocks. They want it spent on improving the Moor, undoing the damage that has been done in recent years, and making it a welcoming, attractive and safe area for all.

Second, consultation. The Council claims to have sent 10,000 questionnaires to local households seeking their views on the proposal. However it’s very clear, from public meetings and other surveys, that many people who should have received questionnaires didn’t do so. But instead of investigating the complaints, Council officers have relied on assurances from the delivery company that they delivered to all households in the area, with one or two exceptions. Well, to quote Mandy Rice-Davies, they would say that, wouldn’t they! Officers also seem to believe that because some people in a street responded, everyone in that street must have received a questionnaire. However, as I’m sure you know, people delivering house-to-house often take short cuts and miss out houses or whole streets to get the job done quickly. Finally, apparently replies were received from only 155 of the 551 streets which should have received questionnaires.

Statisticians say it is highly improbable that replies would be concentrated in such a small number of streets if the forms had been properly delivered. My colleague Professor John Kent, Professor of Mathematics at Leeds University, would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about the statistical analysis of Parks and Countryside’s figures.

And now we have the truly bizarre situation that the Council’s Scrutiny Board has said the consultation was carried out properly while at the same time it has been extended to the end of July so that people who didn’t receive questionnaires can send in their comments by e-mail! Frankly this isn’t a consultation, it’s a shambles, a fiasco, and the investigation nothing more than a whitewash. It should be abandoned now and there should be an independent investigation into what went wrong.

Third, the role of local residents’ associations. We were excluded from the group which drew up this proposal. I use the word “excluded” deliberately because a Council officer told me that while associations had been invited to the first meeting “subsequent meetings of this forum evolved into a partnership of agency representatives and council officers providing a cohesive and constructive working group that are committed to and actively resolving the various issues on Woodhouse Moor”. Apparently local residents have nothing to contribute to resolving issues facing the Moor, despite our very real commitment to its long-term health. This is not the first time that proposals have been put forward for changes to the Moor without involving local people, and not the first time they have been strongly opposed by them. The exclusion of local residents from groups considering plans for the Moor is unacceptable, results in bad decision-making, and must be ended.

Lord Mayor, Woodhouse Moor is an historic park, dear to those who live near it and use it regularly. It is an asset that we hold in trust for future generations, and we should leave it in better condition than we find it. If the current proposal goes ahead, our legacy will be 40 concrete blocks and a degraded open space. We therefore call for the current plans for a barbecue area to be dropped, for the flawed consultation process to be abandoned and for local residents to be fully involved in any group developing plans for the Moor in future.”

June 24, 2009

SUSPENSION OF THE PARK BYELAWS

Filed under: Byelaws,General,LCC — Tony Paley-Smith @ 6:39 pm

PRESENTED AT THE HYDE PARK AND WOODHOUSE FORUM  17 JUNE 2009

WOODHOUSE MOOR – SUSPENSION OF THE PARK BYELAWS

I was notified a couple of weeks ago by Councillor Richard Brett that there was a ‘no-fines’ policy being operated regarding the implementation of the Park Byelaws.  This appears to have been the case for at least a year.

Enforcement by fine IS the Byelaw (£500 maximum) and so the conclusion must be that the byelaws have been suspended and for some considerable time.  This has led to the current dreadful mess and mismanagement of the Moor.

Unfortunately Councillor Brett does not care to say how and why and by whom the Park Byelaws were suspended.  When did the meeting take place where this decision was made ? and who agreed to the suspension ?

This is most extraordinary.  The LCC is neglecting their duty of care by not enforcing the Byelaws.  The Park Byelaws must always be there to provide basic protection for the Moor.  This is regardless of any Park Consultations or other policies.

Therefore Councillor Ewens, the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Forum urges that an ENQUIRY by the Inner North West Area Committee is immediately undertaken regarding the circumstances surrounding the unlawful suspension of the Park Byelaws on Woodhouse Moor.  We would expect a result at the next INWAC meeting which I believe is next month.

Tony Paley-Smith
Local Resident

In association with
Friends of Woodhouse Moor
North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association
South Headingley Community Association

May 29, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS !

Filed under: General — Bill @ 9:55 pm

John Egan MBE

Just months after he was awarded an MBE, Woodhouse Moor’s gardener, John Egan has had further cause to celebrate. Forty years ago last week, on the 24th May 1969, he and his wife Susan were married. Earlier this evening, I was talking to John. He told me how he came to Leeds in 1961 from Castlerea in County Rosscommon. When he first arrived here, he lived in the gatehouse of the Faversham Hotel on Mount Preston. In early 1963, he moved from there to Roundhay. Then he spent some time in Harehills before moving on to Meanwood, which is where he was living when he met Susan. They moved to their present home, the gardener’s lodge, in 1974. John and Susan have two daughters and four grandchildren.

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