The conversation about cooperative housing and edible urban growing spaces threw up an a-side which seemed like a good idea, in that we should set up an award for community groups who have taken on the council or an association to fight for something dear to them, such as a green space or to take proper responsibility of properties. A David and Goliath Award with a touch of ‘name and shame’ in there as well. One stoical group had battled long and hard with Unity Housing when they proposed a housing development scheme (sorry not to have the facts…was it in Miles Hill?) and finally won the argument to have an open green space for the community to use. Not too much to be asked for, I would say. We had a major fight with the Council regarding their negligence in selling one of their properties to a private landlord as it took seven years for the house to be refurbished and lived in, and during that time Newton Futures had to push the Council to enforce the owner to do essential works, including repair a massive hole in the roof.
Whether the community group has been successful or not in winning their fight, they would be nominated and the winner would be awarded with Chapeltown Golden Globe (or such) and the institution an equivalent of a Wooden Spoon. I think that we should recognise groups that haven’t managed to succeed because lets face it, often the institutions that we are battling with are slippery and many-tentacled, so sometimes its just not possible. We could use the Award to learn how people set themselves up, maintain the fight or run a campaign, so the Chapeltown David and Goliath Award would have my backing.
A final point that was pretty depressing was that the agencies that groups were standing up against were those with specific public service remits, such as Unity, North North East Housing and Leeds City Council.
Lots of interesting other conversations; it was good to meet people from previous events and lots of new people as well. looking forward to the next one.
Sue has been a Chapeltown Resident for many years and is a regular participant in the Chapeltown Conversations