Today my campaign flyer went to the printer.
No turning back now; I am committed to delivering 10,000 leaflets asking people in Hyde Park, Little London and Woodhouse to stand up for City of Leeds School and vote for me in the by-election on February 18th.
I had a great lunch with Sue at Orion on Hyde Park corner. I met several local customers and had an awkward moment or two being introduced as 'our local independent candidate'. I'm sure I'll get into the swing of it soon enough but it was quite strange.
This is not something I had thought of doing until Education Leeds decided, yet again, to close City of Leeds.
If City closes my daughter will have to go through the trauma all over again; she still talks about missing Royal Park after 6 years and this will be worse. It is just the wrong age to be moving school even if it wasn't going to be her GCSE year; all that teenage angst, the pressure of exams, and then being split up from her friends, having to travel across the City to much bigger school where she hardly knows anyone and have to get used to new teachers, new rules, new buildings.......
I know it's all about budgets and numbers and bullying from central government but sometimes it feels very personal. When a school has been targeted 4 times it seems like somebody has it in for the children and Royal Park too went through the battle 4 times before Education Leeds finally got its way.
And it's not just schools. The whole area feels more and more neglected.
There are so many people trying so hard to build communities in our area, trying to raise their families, study for their degrees, and just live their lives but something always seems to hold things back. Too often that something seems to be the council.
Take Royal Park.
I remember the public meeting where the community was told that the building would be retained for community use (I even remember the phrasing) as part of regeneration but no matter how hard people fought the council always seemed to have an excuse to block the bids.
But when Headingley Primary closed that building was leased almost immediately to the community for a peppercorn rent.
Why can the council do that for Headingley but not for Hyde Park?
And the flats in Little London, half empty because they were due for demolition, most boarded up but a few still lived in, some of them by families. It must be so bleak bringing children up round there just now, knowing that the new housing promised isn't going to materialise because the council can't afford it any more, just waiting, to move on or for 'refurbishment' - I wonder which will come first?
No high school, overcrowded primary schools, poor housing, not enough green space...............
The local people I met in the cafe were all really supportive and then I hurried off to the Stand up for City campaign meeting at the school.
The staff were very welcoming and liked the proof of my leaflet and the little badges I made.
They were full of ideas but at the same time so concerned about the children.
Apparently a lot of the kids feel completely rubbished by Education Leeds and the proposal to close their school. The document they all received last week is pretty damning of the staff and there seems to be a lot of upset about that too; children need to look up to their teachers and here they were being told that the people they respect and trust, for some of these children, the only people they respect and trust, aren't up to their jobs.
Why does Education Leeds have to do that?
Especially when it simply isn't true.
City of Leeds just had a great Ofsted and my experience is of caring and committed staff who work extremely hard for the kids in their trust.
For my own daughter I couldn't ask for any better.
So proposing to close City was really the straw that broke the camel's back, standing up for City and the whole community by standing in the by-election just seemed the right thing to do.