Leeds today: Literature, pineapple, council tax, falling over, Beckett, vodka and cake.

Hello! Time for Wednesday’s news.

A bit of a grim tale; earlier in the year Council Tax benefits were cut by the government, and last week a block of 3,000 people were summoned to Leeds Magistrates Court for non-payment. Activist Kate Belgrave has been speaking to those who are affected by it. This makes uncomfortable reading but it’s important to know. People are having to pay back arrears that only accrued because a crucial piece of support was removed. Working families are going to have to cut their food budget to cope with this. Fair society? Safety net? No, this is criminalising the poor. It is divisive and cruel.

To make matters worse, the High Court yesterday threw out a challenge against the bedroom tax saying that it does not discriminate against disabled families in social housing. It clearly does, but there we are. LCC’s Keith Wakefield has hit out against this ruling.

Leeds bars have decided to boycott Russian vodka in solidarity with the Russian LGBT community which has recently become subject to some appalling laws. Everybody is aware that this will barely make an impact on the vodka export market, but Thomas Wales, editor of Gay Leeds says “Little changes can make a big difference and help to make sure that we don’t go backwards on equal rights is important.”

It looks like despite the protests LMU will still be changing it’s name to Leeds Beckett Univerity. A bit like John Moore’s in Liverpool, perhaps? When that opened everybody was asking who John Moore was (he founded Littlewoods); now people will be asking “Which Beckett?” Probably William, the Tory MP, or Rupert, the banker. Hm. Neither are glowing occupations these days.

It’s the time of year where we get the Transport Police releasing videos of people falling down stairs, although without the benefit of “Yackity Sax” as a backing track. It turns out that once again Leeds is one of the most accident-prone train stations in the UK. This is because of drunk people failing to negotiate stairs properly. This isn’t funny.

Morley Literature Festival has released their programme, and there’s some corkers on there. Rod Ellingworth, GB Elite Road coach and head of performance at Team Sky will be talking about British Cycling and how it has done so well (with free pedal-powered smoothies for people who cycle to the event). Descendant of Emmeline Pankhurst and local children’s author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst will be running a drawing and storytelling session from her latest Mariella Mystery Investigates book. Andy Kershaw, bless his little cotton socks, is showing up to talk about being Andy Kershaw (which sounds fun), and something we’re very excited about here at BGL Towers, Dr Annie Grey will be hosting afternoon tea and the history of cake with The Clandestine Cake Club’s Lynn Hill. We’ll have more on the Morley Lit over coming weeks.

Finally today, it’s always worth popping into the Henry Moore Institute but the new exhibition, Indifferent Matter, has sweets, balloons, and a recently discovered mineral that has no name. Worth popping in, if only to pick up a pineapple-flavoured boiled sweet.

That’s us for today! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on Friday.

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