An article about the Moor was published in today’s Guardian. It was written by their journalist Sirin Kale. Sirin had wanted to write an article about a typical British park, and reckoned that Woodhouse Moor fitted the bill. And so, late on Thursday the 17th September, she came to Leeds by train all the way from London, accompanied by photographer Alicia. The next day was spent interviewing various of the park users (including myself!) whilst Alicia took photographs. Then, their work done, Sirin and Alicia took the train back to London. Sirin’s interview with me lasted for almost two hours. Towards the end, she said, “I’ve asked you five times about your motivation, and you’ve not answered me.” This surprised me as I really hadn’t noticed, and so, finally aware of my omission, I was forced to answer. You’ll have to read the article to find out what that answer was!
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.