Thursday, 29 April 2010

May Day Rally

The traditional May Day Rally is on Saturday too.

We want to see as many people from the three threatened schools and Royal Park there as possible - bring your placards and banners and help make our voice heard.

There will be a stall where you can buy badges, pick up information and sign the petition to keep City of Leeds as a local school for local children

Meet up at 12 noon outside the Art Gallery on the Headrow

We're all going to the benefit after the rally - you can do both!

Don't forget our benifit for city of Leeds and Unity this weekend

Crazy day for a fundraiser ie. Live in Leeds mayhem happening however on offer something different.
Note any band or friends want to participate in the footie your welcome.

May the 1st at the Burley Liberal Club is FREEBOOTER

A Hyde Park Unity Day Fundraiser with activities for people of all ages -


Under 12's - 1-3pm
12-16 year olds - 3-5pm
Open Age (16+) 5-7pm

This will be 7-a-side (possibly 5-a-side for the under 12’s) there will be trophies to be won, not just for the winners, for the best players & we will be giving out certificates for effeort & fairplay awards… Plus of course there will be the famous Hyde Park Unity Day wooden spoons for miss of the tournament or any hilarious on-field calamities!

To enter a team in advance contact (free to enter, we suggest a donation to participating adult teams)

STEEL BAND SHOWCASE 3-6PM - see 3 of Leeds' finest Steel Bands playing an outdoor marquee!

East Leeds Steel 3-4pm
Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows 4-5pm
Foxwood Steel Bandits 5-6pm

We are also running a BBQ (catering for vegetarians & people who are Halal), it should be lit from 3pm-7.30pm.

We are having some chaps & chapesses down from Leeds Circus Society to perform some circus skills. They will be performing juggling & tricks & running some workshops for people wanting to try. We may be treated to a show of Fire breatheing in the evening.

There will be a chance to watch or take part in Live art with BAMBOO KID.

We are holding doing a raffle to raise funds + raise awareness of the proposed closure of City of Leeds High School – one of the last couple of remaining inner city High Schools in Leeds, which is being threatened with closure despite continually passing it’s ofstead inspections.

And there will be Live Acts from a variety of genres + a a DJ going on upstairs in the evening from 7pm+. A £3 donation to Unity Day is required on the door. Playing:

Sounds of Sirens (indie / rock) - 8.20pm
Ols Moore & the Gypsy Dogs (Gypsy / folk / alt) – 9.10pm
Alphabetix (Hip-hop rhyming crew) – 10.00pm
MC No Change (Hip-Hop) 11.00pm - promoting his new Album, land of the lost available on crackhouse records)
Naffdog (gonzo / electronica) 12.00 midnight
+ DJ Chat (spinning tunes of all genres in between acts).

So come down enjoy the fantastic variety events and put a smile on your face this May Day :)


Monday, 26 April 2010

Stand up for City and Unity benefit

May 1st at 12 noon is the kick-off for a fun-filled, family event to raise money for Hyde Park Unity Day and the Stand up for City campaign at the Burley Sports Club (Burley Liberal Club) on Burley Road.

Amongst other delights there will be 'free-booter' football for kids of all ages, a BBQ, a Steel pan showcase featuring East Steel, Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows (both of which are based at City of Leeds School) and Foxwood Steel Bandits, and various bands into the evening.

Come along and join in the fun

Saturday, 24 April 2010

City of Leeds Petition

Stuart Long, an ex-pupil of City of Leeds School, has started a petition to try to prevent the closure of a great local school

Bollywood comes to Little Woodhouse

Today I went to the Little Woodhouse Picnic in Hanover Square.

It was a beautiful afternoon in the tiny park. St George's Crypt provided refreshments, there were stalls and exhibitions with lots of really well presented information about the area and activities for the children.

The shows included a wide range of music and a great drumming workshop. The highlight had to be the belly dancing which finished with an invitation to join the fun - as you can see from the photograph above there was quite a crowd tempted to have a go and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I met so many interesting people: Janice Priestly from Neighbours United, Freda Matthews of the Little Woodhouse Community Association and Tony Benn who brought his son, Hilary, along to the event.

I really enjoyed myself; thank you so much for inviting me, Freda.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Why don't local people send their children to their local school?

I was sat with my friend across the road yesterday and we were moaning about schools and our kids and needs and......

She is in despair.
Her youngest, in year 8 is not happy at his school (all her kids went there, it was her local school before she moved) and they aren't meeting his needs there - he's severely dyslexic.

So I say to her, 'The school doesn't suit him'.

And she agrees, even though it's an 'outstanding' school.

So I say to her, 'City would suit him'.

And she agrees.

'But,' says she, 'how can I send him there when it's probably closing?'

And I have to agree.

If my daughter wasn't already there I wouldn't send her now, not because it isn't a great school, it is, but simply because, well, how can any parent deliberately put their child in a school they know might close?
If her son is unsettled now, how unsettled will he be in a school under threat and how much more damage will it do him if he has to go through closure when he's just moved school?

I've had several parents in the last week ask me if they should move their children now, before the rush.
It is so hard to tell them not to take them out, at least until we know the final decision.
I know it is nothing to do with City of Leeds being a bad school, none of them want their children to leave, none of them want the school to close, but they are so frightened that their kids will be stuck without a school to go to if they don't go now.

They are just worried, and so am I.

But, for me, it is about more than my daughter's school, it is about my community, my beliefs, my convictions.

My daughter will stay at City because City is the best school I know for her and while it is there she will have the benefit of the diversity and vitality and care it offers.
She will stay there because City is worth fighting for and there is so much more fighting left to do.
She will stay there because I won't abandon my faith in my community and I won't abandon my community.
She will stay there because it is the best school for all our children and taking her away from City would be the worst thing I could do for her.
She will stay there because, if I take my child away from City, how can I possibly tell others to keep their children there?

Fortunately, it's also where she most wants to be!

Children need local schools, inner-city children need them more than ever now that our communities are so hard pressed and our people are so much poorer than even 10 years ago.

The gap is widening and we are the victims of statistics.

Stand up 4 City
Stand up 4 local schools

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Privately Funded Investment

Carlton Towers before demolition

PFIs are a major problem for communities.
For some reason the government and councils seem to think they are a 'good thing'.
Perhaps something to do with money?

I only really know PFIs from education where they are a complete and utter disaster.

A truly dismal PFI school in Leeds

We have more schools now that leak, that have health and safety issues, that are falling into disrepair because the PFI companies are reneging on their contracts and failing to maintain the buildings, that do not meet the needs of the students, that are too small for the number of pupils, that do not allow SEN pupils access to individual technology, that have to be added to because essentials like fire escapes have been forgotten, that have classrooms that can't fit 30 desks so can't hold a class, that came into use months after the deadline and millions over the budgets.............. than we ever had before the program was started. There's even a report that says that the victorian buildings they have often replaced were actually greener and more energy efficient than the new ones.

I went round one PFI school two weeks after it opened to students and was absolutely astounded at the poor quality of the building and workmanship - there was water running down the wall of the brand new ICT suite, cracked windows where the frames had been put in skewed, lino that was raised and splitting, electrics unfinished with wires hanging loose, gutters not fitted, and green moss growing up the walls on the outside where they were so damp.

They are a disgrace and many need to be pulled down and started again with proper planning and decent materials.

But the more I hear about PFIs involved in public housing contracts the more worried I become about what is happening to people who are dependent on social housing.
Every time there is a new project it seems we lose more than we gain - in Little London there will be far fewer homes than have been knocked down and most of them won't even be council houses, they will be 'affordable homes' but who can afford them? Certainly not the residents who have been dispossessed and had their homes demolished.
Many of those families are now having to live in privately rented accommodation without the security and safeguards they had in their flats and at much higher rents.

As the housing pool gets smaller and the communities struggle to maintain their cohesion I can only see things getting worse.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Why stand up 4 City?

Why do I concentrate so heavily on education and City of Leeds?

I have decided to stand in the local election as a candidate for the council again and I looked at my blog and it struck me how much I say about education and how little I say about everything else that concerns my community.

I do really care about other issues.

I want Hyde Park and Woodhouse as a ward to grow and thrive.

I want to stop the neglect, clean up the streets, protect our parks and green spaces, provide cultural and community resources such as the Royal Park community centre we are fighting so hard for. Sorting out the parking and ensuring proper planning goes into housing and regeneration projects are essential to improving the quality of life for residents here.

I want to work with the universities to support and manage the student influence in our ward so that we can work and study and live with some sense of unity and common understanding. Students bring life and vitality to our area but they need to respect our communities too.

For me the communities of Hyde Park and Woodhouse are the central theme and I will do my very best to support them, whether as a councillor or as a local resident.

So why do I focus so much on City of Leeds and education?

The answer is quite simple; our communities will only thrive if they can grow, they will only grow if we care for our children and support them as they mature and form their social identities.

If we lose our school then how do we protect our children? How do we bring them up as members of our communities when they spend most of their time away across the city? How do we ensure that they are safe and happy? How do we educate them in the values of our communities? How do we make sure their needs are met and not lost in the hubbub of a school day where no-one knows them or cares for them?

Schools are the heart of our communities, not because schools themselves have any particular strengths in supporting our communities, especially now so many are PFI, and safeguarding and risk assessments mean we struggle to access them either to support our children or to enjoy the benefits communities have traditionally gained form the sharing of resources (though some, like City of Leeds, still do their best), but because children are really the heart of our communities and if we care for them properly then they will care for their communities and strengthen and maintain them as they grow.

The children of our communities are our future, our most precious resource, our immortality in a throw-away world. They are everything and should come first in all we do.

In Hyde Park and Woodhouse we have a good high school, one that meets our children's needs according to Ofsted but one that has been under attack for so long we can't even remember the last time someone from Education Leeds said anything nice about it.
It is a school that has improved dramatically in the last 5 years or so but it is a school that needs support to improve further.

If we want our communities to thrive then we want our children to thrive and the best place for them to do that is in our own high school, City of Leeds.

If we lose City of Leeds I am certain we will lose everything else, including our children and young people, and in 10-20 years time we will have no communities left to fight for.

So City of Leeds is important and worth fighting for, more than any other single issue I can think of and I will continue to focus on it for our children and our communities.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

City protest

A good turn out today with loads of banners and press but when I tried to go in to the executive board meeting I was told that the public couldn't go in. I asked why but got no answer.
Later I found out that there were members of the public there.

Here's the result from the Executive Board on City of Leeds:

The Executive Board is asked to;
i. note the outcome of the consultation on proposals to close City of Leeds High School on 31st August 2011;
ii. the Executive notes the alternative plan put forward by the governors of City of Leeds High School and partners;
iii. request Education Leeds to bring back a report, July 2010, based on consultations with the Governors of City of Leeds High School and other stake holders, during the period of the statutory consultation, exploring all options to ensure the continued use of the site for educational purposes;
iv. approve the publication of a statutory notice to close City of Leeds High School on 31st August 2011.

A disappointing result to say the least but there is to be discussion before the final decision is made and Education Leeds has been directed to explore all options.
What that actually means is anyone's guess.

The fight goes on.

Protest today

I haven't posted in ages, I've been working hard on a critique of Education Leeds' report to the Executive Board which meets today.

And the covering letter, a version of which went online in the Guardian Leeds blog last night

We will be meeting at the back of the Civic Hall at 12pm to protest against the closure of City of Leeds School

Please join us.