Topic: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I expect most people in Leeds will be aware of the recent activity at Royal Park School in Hyde Park. For the rest; in 2004 Royal Park Primary School was closed by Leeds City Council, with the promise that the (wonderful, huge, Victorian) building will remain a community space. However it has stood locked shut for the last five years, falling further and further into disrepair. The lead from the roof was "stolen" [removed by the Council] which has caused worse damage to the building from the leaking roofs with each passing winter. The council's real motive is to ignore their previously made promise of keeping the building open to the community, and instead allow the building to become derelict beyond repair, and then to sell the plot of land to a private company to build expensive flats (most likely student accomodation).
Three or so weeks ago a group moved in and squatted the school, reclaiming it for use as a community center. It is a truly incredible building, just walking around it gave me chills of how much potential the place had as a community/ social center. The first-night meeting was truly inspirational, with people putting forward diozens of ideas for the various rooms- cinemas, concert spaces, rehearsal spaces, cafes, etc... Every day people (myself included) worked for hours repairing things in the rooms, cleaning it up- amounting to around £16,000 worth of labour (someone estimated that... I'm not sure who).
Anyways, we got served a court summons, and promptly got evicted from the school two weeks after entering the building. But we could stay in the grounds of the school and in a small seperate building (the caretaker's house)- which received a separate court summons, which was today.

I just caught wind of this:

"ROYAL PARK SCHOOL - Evicted Again!
http://www.royalparkcommunity.info/
Tue 01 Dec 09

After a long session in court this morning the District Judge has made a ruling that is final, we must vacate the caretakers house and grounds by 12:00pm Wednesday 2nd December 2009.

Let no one forget that this is a protest for the people, by the people for the return of the Royal Park Primary School building to community use.

Before entering court, we went and tried to negotiate with the council, to save the time and costs of everyone and the court,

* a peaceful timed exit of the building
* court costs to be minimised considering the protest nature of our action

Leeds City Council representatives did not want to know and acted in a dictatorial manor.

A statement was filed from Councillor Illingworth providing notes of council meetings demonstrating the fact that the council representitives in court today were acting without due authority from the elected body of Leeds City Council, yet astoundingly a judgement was still made.

This has been an unfortunate example of Leeds City Council and the powers that be in keeping the people in their place by using a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut'.

Costs have been ordered to be paid by Andrew Beresford, Ted Winter and persons unknown to the amount of £2948.50, an excessive amount by any standards.

While various members of the council, and a local MP, have all supported the action that we have taken by writing letters of support, phoning us and meeting us, it would appear that they are unable to stop the perverse action of the council in its current stance against our campaign, and the undemocratic way in which it reaches its decision, which we believe must be investigated further to expose the endemic corruption within Leeds City Council and its executive body.

There is an election coming up in May 2010 and these people obviously do not want to keep their jobs. We are the people who elected them in to power, and the lip service paid to us is astounding to say the very least.


We urgently need to raise £2948.50 for court costs, plus the gas and electric costs during our stay in the building.

Thank you"

This is a horrible example of a supposedly democratically-informed body totally ignoring the voices of those it should be representing and solely pursuing privately profitable avenues instead. I hate that I feel powerless to make any kind of difference, and individuals have to pay £3000 (on top of the rest of the money they have put into the project) only trying to enact a promise made by the council for the benefit of the community.
Showing major support for a good (is there such a thing?) candidate in the aforementioned May 2010 election is vital. I'm tempted to run myself.
Don't let this issue be forgotten.
Jon Mohajer

2

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

Good luck, sounds like a project with a lot of potential!

"Before I give my own review of this book I just want to say that I am a huge harry potter fan, to the extent that I actually have a deathly hallows tattoo on my bottom. I'm also quite ill right now, but I fought against my horrid cold to read this book. "

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I know it's not much but I'd help out with a gig to raise funds towards that 3 grand if they'd be interested.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I presume you've sought legal advice in the past/attempted to find a solicitor who would take on the case with legal aid (or find some way of backdating this - is that even possible)? Chapeltown/Harehills Law Centre or the CLS website may be good places to start

If they are turning this into student accomodation it seems to really fly in the face of Denham's report on Houses of Multiple Occupancy/"Studentification"; and Lib Dem Hyde Park Councillor Kabeer Hussain's rant about the "Student Ghetto".

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

Spoke to a couple of people today right after the eviction and at least we don't have to worry about the £3000 anymore, some members of the council apparently came forward later and have offered for the council to pay the court fees in a sort of "under the table" arrangement.
The council were throwing everything from still on the site onto the back of a pick-up truck the last I saw, and welding a fence out the front- I'm not sure why.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

gosh that's crazy about them paying the fees. but good. but also bad in as much as it seems like the plainest admission of sketchiness.

the pictures on the website of the space do look incredible

the privately owned student halls thing seems to be a boom business at the moment in london at least, there are two huge ones within walking distance of my new house.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I feel anyone with an interest in this issue would benefit from giving this council report a read

http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieIssueDe … &Opt=3

It’s from October and is the most recent report pertaining to the issue and it summarises the current council position. I’ll copy and paste certain points for convenience but I’d recommend giving the whole thing a read, particularly section 4.3 which outlines the two bids for the property that are currently in contention (the appendix includes further detail of each proposal) and section 4.4 which addresses the RPCC bid and the reasons for it’s refusal at this time.

2.0 Background Information

2.1 Executive Board, in November 2003, approved in principle the retention of the Royal
Park building for Council purposes with some space for community use following the
planned closure of the school in September 2004. This was a response to the wish
from the local community to preserve the building because of its perceived
contribution to the local streetscape and the place it was felt to have in the history of
the area.

2.2 In August 2006, Executive Board approved the marketing of the property for
refurbishment, by way of a long lease, subject to the retention of the building itself and
the Council having use of part of the refurbished building for a library and some
community space. The marketing specifically excluded the conversion of the building
for student housing or any major retail use.

2.3 In August 2007, Executive Board approved the selection of Rushbond plc as the
preferred developer.

3.0 The current position

3.1 On 13 October 2008, the Council received formal notification from the preferred
developer that it was unable to move the scheme forward because of an absence of
potential residential partners/occupiers of the age-related residential care element of
the project and the current economic down turn generally.


9.0 Conclusions

9.1 Officers cannot recommend that the original proposal for the retention of part of the
building by the Council should be pursued. The costs of such a scheme are rising
and no real demand for operational property, other than the library, by any Council
department can be identified. Alternative solutions for the library could be found and
at least part-funded through a first call upon the receipt that would be generated
through the disposal of the current Burley Library.

9.2 On the basis of information currently available, and in the light of the limited financial
resources available to the Royal Park Community Consortium, the length of time
which would be taken for it to seek the £400,000 it feels is the minimum necessary to
fund the refurbishment of the property, and the high degree of risk that such
resources would not be achieved, it is proposed that the request from the consortium
should be declined. Officers advise that this estimated cost is substantially below the
likely cost of the refurbishment required to properly preserve the property.

9.3 Officers are mindful that the building has now been vacant for over four years, since
the closure of the school, and there is a high risk that this period could be extended
substantially if it were decided to market it again solely on the basis of refurbishment.

9.4 Given the fact that two initial financial offers which both represent market value have
been received officers do not believe that it is appropriate to enter into one-to-one
negotiations with only one party.

9.5 It is therefore recommended that both interested parties are asked to submit best and
final financial offers along with business plans for the operation of the building.

9.6 Should the disposal option discussed above at 9.5 be unsuccessful officers will bring
a further report to this Board.

This information is freely available on democracy.leeds.gov.uk and I’ve posted it here to further inform the debate. I’m not interested in participating in said debate here though it should be noted. I’m also not acting in any official capacity, merely as a citizen of the city.

Thanks

Unbelievable. And very brave.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I cant believe that I actually found that report interesting, I am literally becoming my old man...
Whatever the merits of the RPCC bid identifying £70k in potential funding sources, to set against £1m capital expenditure is crazy talk, and I would be doubtful that any project could raise that kind of sum without being able to evidence concrete outcomes in terms of jobs/training/health which would at least equal those from simply allocating that kind of sum to conventional funding streams. The council is obviously looking to monetise an asset, and arent willing to pony up a peppercorn rent which would enable that kind of community resource to be developed, particularly if there are 2 schools who actually have the cash to buy it...

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

However admirable the intentions of these people are, sock puppets and vegan meals just aren't going to inspire the wider community.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

Hopefully this will mean the end of the Rainbow Alliance, and ultimately a return to Labour control of the council.

If you die tomorrow, can you honestly say you've lived?

http://www.myspace.com/mcpositivebastard

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

Jim wrote:

However admirable the intentions of these people are, sock puppets and vegan meals just aren't going to inspire the wider community.

Which is why we made a huge effort passing out leaflets to the local community, including churches, mosques etc informing them that it is their space to do exactly what they like with and NOT just a "dirty squatters" home. Attempts were made to put on a diverse range of events in the short time they were open, like hosting rehearsals for a play, jumble sales, coffee mornings.
The report posted by Yorkie has made me look at this issue with a little more perspective, but still I think that overlooking the need for a large community space in Hyde Park is completely stupid.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

I think it may be hard to convince people about the need for a community centre. Whilst i'm sure it would be well used for larger events there's already the Cardigan Centre and Burley Lodge centre close by. The transient nature of the residents of Hyde Park doesn't help either. Hopefully the council will preserve the building and make some use of it without selling it off.

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

stateJon wrote:
Jim wrote:

However admirable the intentions of these people are, sock puppets and vegan meals just aren't going to inspire the wider community.

Which is why we made a huge effort passing out leaflets to the local community, including churches, mosques etc informing them that it is their space to do exactly what they like with and NOT just a "dirty squatters" home. Attempts were made to put on a diverse range of events in the short time they were open, like hosting rehearsals for a play, jumble sales, coffee mornings.
The report posted by Yorkie has made me look at this issue with a little more perspective, but still I think that overlooking the need for a large community space in Hyde Park is completely stupid.

i think though, that the fairly illegal nature of what is being described would keep alot of groups such as churches and that away...

I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Re: Attention Leeds [Royal Park School Update]

Id look to enter into some kind of partnership arrangement with one of the school bids mesen, providing some service in exchange for access to some of the space at weekends/evenings...