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.