The Big Conversation

Hilary Benn MP for Leeds Central hosted the ‘Big Conversation’ on the evening of Friday 8th November at St. Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck. Joining him were Ward Councillors Adam Ogilvie, Angela Gabriel, David Congreve and Chris Bowen from West Yorkshire Police.

This was an informal conversation to meet residents of Holbeck and discuss needs and concerns regarding regeneration and long awaited improvements to the area. Hilary held court in his effervescent way to answer questions on the spot with the support of the ward councillors and Chris.

I am not a Holbeck resident but I gatecrashed with Graciela who is and who I’m on the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan with, and coming from Beeston makes me a concerned and interested neighbour.

We were asked to write down on the post-it’s provided things that we liked about Holbeck, things we didn’t like about Holbeck and what could be done to help improve Holbeck.
Their was a strong sense of community spirit and most of the residents agreed that Holbeck had potential in its;

Heritage Sites
Characterful Buildings
The Moor which is a beautiful green space

Unsurprisingly, familiar issues arose which aren’t so good;

Poor Housing
Fly Tipping
Prostitution
Curb Crawlers
Cutting Bus Services
Traffic Congestion
Lack of Community Amenities

Over the years residents have been let down by promises of funding and regeneration not coming into fruition. They’ve witnessed rows of housing and high rises been knocked down and then left for the grass to grow. The streets in Holbeck only seem useful to the public when Leeds United are playing at home and they need somewhere to park their car. They have a right to feel disillusioned.

However, with scheduled plans for starting work on new builds and voluntary organisations moving in, now is the time to seize the opportunity to respond to what the community needs.

Lots of the people complained about not knowing about developments and the firework display. So it looks like leafleting is still the way to go.

At the moment the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan is run by a small number of residents and businesses from Holbeck with the majority of the members coming from out the area but passionate all the same.

The ‘Big Question’ will be if the community can find a way to work with more voluntary groups to benefit them.

Below are some pictures from the a recent heritage walkabout the plan did on 19th October more scheduled this month check out the events pages on the plan website http://www.holbeckneighbourhoodplan.org.uk/news.html
more information on the Big Question was reported by Jeremy Morton on the South Leeds Life website
http://www.southleedslife.com/holbecks-big-conversation-hilary-benn-mp/#.UoC257IgGSM

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