Leeds today: Light Night, PFI, governing, Skiffy, blue plaque, names and Menwith Hill.

Morning Leeds! This week sees the start of Love Art Leeds, Morley Literature Festival, Light Night and the Leeds Steampunk Market amongst so many other things going on, so lets get to it so at least some of us can work out what on earth is going on with our diaries.

News first, though!

The Leeds Citizen has an interesting piece on the current problems to affect the PFI-led regeneration programme that should have seen three inner-city areas in Leeds be refurbished and new homes built. Further delays are causing the costs of the scheme to spiral, and six years into the 20-year PFI sees some demolished tower blocks and… very little else, bar pretty architectural sketches and frustrated residents and LCC housing officers.

A new base commander at the Golf Balls (aka RAF Menwith Hill, the American spy base near Patley Bridge) has taken up residence, which coincides with a step up in the campaign against the base presence on UK soil. Ever since the base became the front line in Echelon – and even before – protesters have been on site, with Tuesdays being a regular day for people to show up & support the closure of the base. Next Tuesday is a particularly significant day, as it is during Keep Space for Peace week and Yorkshire CND has organised a bike ride between Fylingdales and Menwith Hill to highlight the presence of the two bases.

The YEP has a small piece on amusing place names in the area. I’m sure we can come up with some more. Have you seen a funny place name? Send us a picture (or drop one in the comments).

Do you feel strongly about education services in Leeds? Do you object to the way Michael Gove is steamrolling in massive changes without seemingly proper consultation? Why not become a school governor in Leeds and district?

JRR Tolkein lived and taught in Leeds for several years in the 1920s, and this fact was celebrated earlier in the week by a blue plaque being unveiled at his house in West Park. Tolkein was an English professor at the University of Leeds where he worked on Sir Gawain; he didn’t start on Middle Earth until later when at Oxford.

There’s some fun events coming up; Morley Literature Festival has a great programme including Peter Hook (which will mean nothing to anybody under the age of 30, I imagine), but this Saturday sees a particular highlight, David Hine talks about superheroes with Justina Robson, Samit Basu and Adam Christopher, luminaries all. We’ll be bringing more details of events at the Lit Fest soon.

(Speaking of Superheroes, have you sorted out your tickets to Thought Bubble yet? The full programme gets launched on Monday…)

A new exhibition is going up at the White Cloth Gallery as we speak, and opens tomorrow. Ewen Spencer’s England’s Dreaming takes a look at what it is to be a teenager in Britain over the last 15 years and will be nothing less than fascinating. The launch is on at the Gallery on Thursday from 6pm, £5.

Leeds Steampunk Market at the Left Bank returns on Saturday, with dancers, stalls, music, tea and more brass cogs stuck to bowler hats than you could possibly imagine. Not only is this a brilliant (and free) look at a great subculture, some of the toys and clothes for sale are always seriously tempting. Pop in!

But of course, the big thing is Friday’s Light Night. The guide has now been released (PDF, but you can pick up your own copy from the Town Hall and other venues around Leeds) and we’ve had a close look at what is making people excited. We’ll be rounding up what we think looks nifty this afternoon – if you’re excited about an event you’re running and want us to say a few nice words about it then please email us!

Thanks for reading!

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