Residents of Leeds, England neighbourhood plagued with crime ask council for help

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Residents of a Leeds, England neighbourhood have requested help from a council because their neighbourhood is plagued by crime, overcrowding, and community tensions.

Hyde Park, Leeds, England, where crime has increased by seven percent over the last year. Residents have written to the council asking for help to improve the area.
Image: Gunnar Larsson.

Leeds City Council received a request for help from residents of Hyde Park, who said they were worried about the increasing level of anti-social behavior and worsening community relations. A report will be unveiled on Wednesday by a council delegation, highlighting the problems in the area. "The people living in Hyde Park come from widely different population groups... these groups have very different customs, needs and living styles and this can provoke high levels of tension in the area," the delegation said.

The council claims that because of the 28 per cent ethnic minority population and the 40,000 students living in the neighbourhood, there are tensions between residents. They added, however, that they are actively encouraging people to work together, citing a multi-faith forum, a cricket competition and activities which bring old and young together.

The report says that the council are trying to build relationships between Muslims and police, something which they said is "particularly important after the area's connection to the London bombings on 7th July 2005." A local newspaper reported that "the Shebab project introduces young Muslims to role models from sport and culture and also runs scholars' talks to counter extremist ideologies."

Crime has increased by 7% in the past year in Hyde Park, and residents noted that anti-social behaviour was getting worse. The council said that an anti-burglary task force had helped to reduce the number of thefts from homes. Residents complained that there was a lack of pride in the area, and at the end of the academic year in the summer, large piles of rubbish were left in streets, yards and alleyways. The report adds that the council operates a recycling scheme aimed towards teenagers, and that rubbish collections have increased.

Cquote1.svg [We are] slightly frustrated with certain communication issues that we've had with the council Cquote2.svg

—Jake England Johns, campaigner

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that campaigners are attempting to "take control of a derelict school building and transform it into a community hub are appealing for sponsors and partners in a bid to turn their dreams into reality." They say that the unused building, owned by the council, could be used for meetings and events. A volunteer group of residents have been working on a business plan, and have gained support from local businesses to create "a vision of an open, accessible and valuable resource for all."

A member of the commitee, however, said he was "frustrated" with the council's attitude towards the plans. "The RPCC is slightly frustrated with certain communication issues that we've had with the council, but we're working with them and hoping to gain further assistance going forward," he said. "It's a shame that certain setbacks could have been avoided."

The deputation added that "a major factor in Hyde Park's suffering is its high level of population density", which they conceded is something they are unable to change. The council responded to complaints that streets are "cheap and unhealthy takeaways, letting agents and boarded-up shop fronts," by saying that Hyde Park Corner and Headingley are, according to the Yorkshire Post, "thriving shopping areas and work had taken place to ensure a good mix of outlets."

The report concludes: "The council acknowledges that because of the very particular circumstances which exist in the neighbourhood, Hyde Park faces difficult challenges which affect the quality of life of residents and that 'normal' service levels may not be sufficient to tackle some of these. The council will do more to enable local people to influence how services work and how local problems are tackled. Local community and voluntary groups will be invited to play an active role."


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