Leeds today: strikes, radio, news cafes, mortgages, tributes, centenarians

Good morning Loiners young and old!

Elly was flying the flag for BGL at the Leeds Digital Awards last night (alas, we didn’t get the top slot but Culture Vulture was a well deserved win – Ed), so this morning it’s Mark with the news from across our fair city.

It’s December 1st, the twelfth and last month of the year. Over the next four weeks, the news shows and the websites will be dominated by reviews documenting the highs and lows, recounting the stories and the trends of the year 2011. One of the abiding themes of this year has to be the way in which individuals and groups and communities all over the country – and here in Leeds as anywhere else – have got out there and taken to the streets to make their voices heard. All of our main stories today, in one way or another, fit that trend.

An estimated 7,000 people were out in force yesterday attending a rally through central Leeds over public sector pension reforms. The BBC has coverage from the field, commentary from council chiefs and trade union leaders, as well as pictures from the protests across West Yorkshire.

Today meanwhile is BBC Local Radio Day. Up and down the country, the BBC Radio Forum is urging people to tune in to their BBC local station and get talking about the shows online and off, making the case by sheer numbers and engagement against proposed cuts to local radio coverage. Martin Wainwright has a fine piece on Guardian Northerner about the growing momentum against the planned cuts.

And in the spirit of the truly local, today sees the first of South Leeds Life’s exciting news cafes. The team will be at Belle Isle Community Cafe in Belle Isle Family Centre next to St John and St Barnabus Church from 9.30am to 11am today, offering a chance for local residents to meet and share their thoughts on the blog as well as contribute to the project.

All week the YEP has been investigating the housing crisis in Leeds, reporting here on the growing difficulty of getting a foothold on the property ladder.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have paid tribute to the Leeds soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan, reports the BBC. Rifleman Sheldon Steel, 20, leaves behind his mother Victoria, his brother and two sisters.

Leeds United have announced that they plan to name a suite in their new East Stand in memory of Gary Speed, whose professional career began at Elland Road.

Finally, the YP has an incredible story on Ellen McDonald, who is just two months away from turning 101 and described by friends as a “walking miracle”: having survived five bouts of cancer, she is today one of a growing number of centenarians. In Leeds alone, just 114 were counted over the age of 100 – a figure which could rise to 10,000 in the next 20 years.

Elly will be looking at tomorrow’s news and the weekend’s highlights, but if you want to get ahead of the game then here’s something else for a great Friday night: Leeds’s own Hope and Social boys are holding a Winter Warmer at Richmond’s exquisite Georgian Theatre Royal this Friday, with a coach available from Leeds City Centre – more details here.

Have a top day folks!

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