Leeds today: housing, market furore, the flow of money and Chernobyl.

Good morning Leeds!

This week we’ve been focusing on those individuals in Leeds who have been marginalized in one form or another, and today is no exception. The Rent to Mortgage scheme developed by Leeds City Council has allowed two households – previously living in one four bedroom council house – to move into separate houses next door to each other. The project, in partnership with Bellway Homes, is providing 10 new houses in East Leeds to those low-earning families who wish to step onto the housing ladder by providing an affordable alternative to a regular mortgage scheme. If you have concerns about the way new housing is being created in Leeds, LCC has started a consultation on housing growth.

Jenny Booth highlights the Pennine Camphill Community Craft Hub over on The Culture Vulture, a beautifully designed building housing an independent college for teenagers with physical and learning disabilities. The college provides training in traditional craft skills, such as ceramics, wood-turning, and knitting, as well as more every day activities like gardening. The students are able to learn key life skills in living away from home as well as employment skills, providing a better future for those who have potentially found mainstream further education to be wrong for them.

It all exploded yesterday with news unleashed about alleged plans for Kirkgate Market, with all parties getting stuck in. Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market posted a slightly inflammatory response to the council’s newly-developed strategy for the market, while the BBC picked up on it and spoke to some of the traders who actually agreed with certain council ideas. The apparent ‘hiijacking’ of the  market to turn it into a ‘foodie destination’ by the council  have neither been clearly supported or rejected. The Source – a new business started in the market in order to develop its reputation for excellent, well-priced produce – has provided a statement which makes clear their business is in  no way acting with the markets authority and rejects any implication of such. BGL is a staunch supporter of Leeds Market, but also supports ideas to change and improve it: as such we here at BGL feel that perhaps this explosion of emotion and polemical discourse from either side of the debate needs to stop, and focus instead on the people who work in the market, use the market, and the potential audience that it could be opened up to. This isn’t some spaghetti Western where the baddies dress in black so you know who they are. City centre resources need to be developed with as many parties in mind as possible, and in-fighting isn’t going to do that.

On a similar ranting note, Exploring Leeds waxes lyrical about the flow of money in Leeds: where is it coming from, where is it going, and who the hell is actually benefiting from it?

The Guardian Northerner blog reports further on the Splashback demonstration from Monday, as residents in Beeston campaign for the reopening of their leisure centre. They argue that the lack of sports facilities goes against the government’s recommendation for more young people to take part in sport; especially ironic as the Olympics are drawing ever closer. John Hodgson, Beeston resident, sums up the wave of cuts that have been flooding the area:

I am here to support one of the poorest areas of the city that keeps having its facilities cut. If you look at the Leeds 11 area we’ve had OAP homes cut over the years, Holbeck Library’s about to close, the last round of post office closures saw three close in LS11 – and you have to look at the number of local branches of banks that have closed in recent times.

The Henry Moore is hosting an exhibition by artist Mario Merz, his first solo show in the UK for nearly 30 years. Opening on 28th July, the show features everyday objects in extraordinary sculptures answering the question of an artist’s role in a precarious political future. Bonus clever clogs information: the show’s title question ‘What is to be done?’ is more commonly associated with the Russian art collective Chto Delat (whose name also means ‘what is to be done?’) who create interesting songs, newspapers, and videos in an attempt to answer this question. The question itself comes from a pamphlet produced by Vladimir Lenin investigating the problems of and solutions to capitalism. Get us.

The Culture Vultures 1000th blog post (!) goes to a preview of new restaurant, Create, in Leeds centre. This restaurant and catering service is a community venture, not only providing excellent grub, but creating employment opportunities for individuals who have pushed to the margins of society and might be vulnerable or homeless. It sounds like a wonderful idea and is winning awards all over the place for their mix of social enterprise, great food, and fantastic range of sister services. The opening is a week on Friday and you can make a reservation by having a look at their website. BGL will be looking a little closer at this restaurant next week.

The YEP is reporting on a visit to Leeds by schoolchildren from Chernobyl. Children in that region spend their entire lives consuming potentially contaminated food and drink and are at a high risk of developing cancer. A four week break elsewhere can extend their lifespan by up to three years, and so the Chernobyl Children’s Project places children from the area with host families in the UK for a break.

And that’s it for today! The weekend is coming up, so if you have any events you’d like us to highlight then please get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. See you tomorrow!

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