Leeds today: fairness, growing food, treasure hunts and a new nursery.

In one of the more “head-in-hands” stories of the last few days, a man from Wetherby was cautioned after taking part in a treasure hunt, reports the BBC. A witness saw a package being placed under a bench in the town and police were called, fearing an explosive device. The report was taken seriously and after evacuating local businesses for four hours a controlled explosion took place, and then the person organising the treasure hunt was arrested for causing a public nuisance and given a police caution. Owner of a nearby cafe, Karen Brittain, said her business was affected and has called for tighter measures on internet treasure hunts.

“It was a busy day and customers in the cafe had to leave. There should be distinctive markings on these types of boxes.”

BGL posits that even if there were clear markings they’d probably be ignored anyway.

Also on the BBC is an article that marks the end of the Children’s Heart Unit consultation period, where Leeds managed to collect about 520,000 signatures in support of keeping the unit at the LGI open. BGL has commented on the proposed closures in the past, and hopes that the consultation raises more questions about why units must close – efficiency is a poor answer, as cold as a dropped scalpel. The Childrens Heart Surgery Fund is still open and will continue to raise public awareness of the proposed closures.

Ever been interested in the theatrical history of our region? Richard Smyth from My Life in Leeds has written a brief history of some of the theatres in Leeds. The Scarborough Hotel, for example, used to host “music hall” nights that would be used by agents from the City Varieties to talent-spot. As an aside, next time you’re walking past the rear entrance to Harvey Nicks in town, look up and see if you can find the Empire Palace sign, the last remnant of one of the biggest theatres Leeds has seen.

Exploring Leeds is undergoing a huge project, to visit all the libaries scheduled to be closed before they’re closed down. In fact, they’re being visited this week. The first part of the project is fascinating, and points out that under normal circumstances many of the proposed closures would not fit in many peoples definitions of a library. BGL is looking forwards to further instalments.

Lotherton Hall is to double the area that is open to the public, says the BBC. A public consultation is underway to look at the proposals to improve the walled garden and access routes, as well as opening up more of the grounds.

Leeds homeless charity Simon on the Streets points out that the concept of fairness is being sold to us as a constant, when it is actually subjective. This is in relation to the Pickles Letter, suggesting that homelessness will rise as a result of proposed caps to benefits on a household basis; the article points out that this is similar to eugenics programmes from before the first world war, designed to reduce the “undesirable” populations.

South Leeds is getting a new police headquarters on Elland Road, reports blog South Leeds Life. Residents can have their say on the proposals; concerns about reduced parking on match days are already being made. The meeting to discuss the plans is on Wednesday at 7pm in the Rearney Suite at the ground.

Calverley Parkside School finally has a new nursery, says blogger (and governor) Anne Akers. The nursery has been running out of a Portakabin for too long and after a lot of faff about tendering and suchlike the building was officially opened yesterday. Congratulations! BGL hopes many clever and hard-working youngsters emerge from its doors.

Finally, Red Pepper magazine takes a look at Edible Public Space (EPS) in Chapeltown, a project that uses public space to grow veg and fruit. Often this is dne by “guerilla gardening” (mentioned yeterday by BGL) but this particular project is being done in conjunction with the council. Chiara Tornaghi says:

EPS promotes collective growing based on the principle of non-ownership of produce, community-led project design and land management, mutual learning and re-skilling, non-consumption based on the right to gather in public space and the mix of playful activities with food growing. So when the Parks Department asked ‘But what if people start stealing the veg?’ EPS had to explain that it would consider that a success.

BGL loves this project and wishes that more urban areas in Leeds could take part. (And will be going out to buy a copy of Red Pepper later today!)

That’s it for today; if you have something you’d like to say, why not get in touch? You can email us on beyondgdnleeds@gmail.com or tweet us @BeyondGdnLeeds. Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.

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