Leeds residents protest plans that leave 70 families homeless

Plans to demolish dozens of homes in the Rothwell area of Leeds are being discussed today by the city council.

By Nathaniel Doughty

It’s believed 70 families will be affected by this decision and will be made homeless if the plans go ahead.

The residents first received the notification of the plans over two years ago, and the result will be announced today.

SaveourhomesLS26 is a movement in opposition to the plans and has been actively protesting both online and on the streets of Leeds.

“Anything from a Premier Inn to a shipping container”

The council have offered some help, but event organiser and social media co ordinator Hazell Field said: “They haven’t been very helpful. Basically they don’t know what to do with us, I don’t think. The council told us, ‘If you lose your house, we’ll put you in temporary accommodation.’ But that could be anything from a Premier Inn to a shipping container.”

 

She added: “It’s been very disruptive.”

Hazell’s husband and the group’s vice chair Mark Field said: “The councillors individually have been helpful. We’ve got some brilliant councillors from Lib Dem and Labour. Stewart Golton is our local Lib Dem councillor. And Karen Bruce unfortunately lost her seat, but is still campaigning for us.”

Residents for 50 years

Many residents and supporters have rallied at the Leeds Civic Hall today to demonstrate against the plans.

Mr Field added: “The council originally planned to build three and four bedroom houses. However only 12 of these were considered ‘affordable housing’.”

The council have offered temporary accommodation across Leeds, which means the community will be split if the residents are evicted.

Mr Field said: “Looking for affordable rent in the area, there isn’t anywhere that price. So you end up with people having to move away and give up their jobs.”

The area has a tight-knit community. “The original estate was a lot bigger because it was a miner’s estate. But when it was sold privately they knocked down about three quarters of the estate to build more private houses.

“We’ve had people living here for 50 years, many of us were born here. We are the last remnants.”

It was announced earlier in the year by Councillor Caroline Gruen, chair of the plans panel, that the group would be unable to speak at the meeting. However, due to mounting pressure, the group will be allowed four minutes to speak today.

Angry tweets

Many of the residents are elderly or retired, causing further upset and inconvenience. Linda Elseworth (@ElseworthLinda) is a resident who posted this on 2nd October on Twitter:  “I will not sleep tonight, worrying about the decision being made tomorrow by Leeds planning committee. how can they possibly approve such a plan that would mean 70 families?  Put people first.”

Real Voices (@Real_Voices_) replied: “Will Leeds Council Planning Dept today authorise the forced removal of Linda and her friends from their forever homes so that property developers can make some big profits?”

The residents were joined by Residents Action Group, the Leeds Trade Union Council, Sisters Uncut Leeds, Acorn and members of the Labour Party to demonstrate outside the Leeds Civic Hall in the city centre.

Hands Off Our Homes Leeds, Twentieth Century Society and The Prefab Museum have also offered their support to the movement online.

The group has a blog ran by Mark Field’s daughter, as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts that are run by Hazell.

About the Author

student
This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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