The Socialist 24 January 2018 |
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Leeds playing fields rescued from Blairites
Playing fields are a vital community resource (Click to enlarge)
Tanis Belsham-Wray, Leeds Socialist Party
Labour-run Leeds City Council appears to have finally retreated in the face of mass community opposition to the plans to build on Fearnville playing fields previously reported in the Socialist.
This follows over 2,000 signatures on a petition, 4,000 leaflets delivered, and 69% opposition to the consultation.
Over 70 residents and local activists gathered in east Leeds on 19 January to plan opposition to building a 'free school' on the fields.
At this meeting, Richard Burgon, the local Corbynista Labour MP, announced a statement from Councillor Lisa Mulherin, the council executive member overseeing the development. She had recommended that "we do not progress the proposals consulted on recently to develop a school on Fearnville fields."
This victory is down to the resistance of local residents, organised by the Save Fearnville Fields campaign, which includes local Socialist Party members. Labour councillors present at the meeting attempted to rewrite history, claiming to have been against the proposals from the start.
However, the only councillor who publicly opposed the plans before this statement was ex-Labour councillor Catherine Dobson, now of the East Leeds Independents, who has been part of the campaign from the beginning. Richard Burgon also criticised the proposals from early in the campaign.
This shows that local residents, by building a campaign and putting pressure on councillors, can win.
However, the campaign will remain vigilant until this proposal has been voted down at the council executive meeting and no further proposals to build on the fields are put forward.
We will also be continuing to pressure the council to fund improvements to the nearby leisure centre which was consulted on alongside the school.