A short interview with a woman prostituted on the streets of Holbeck

This short and emotional interview was given to a resident in the street late in 2017.  It was originally on video and has been transcribed to protect “Carol’s” identity.

We understand that in the months after the recording was made she managed to turn her life around.  We haven’t seen “Carol” for months and hope she continues to recover.  Over the last couple of weeks we have noticed (on Twitter) that pro-managed approach campaigners try to silence some of the women who have suffered in street prostitution.  We have seen campaigners claiming that street prostitution is a proper job and that women choose to do it.  From the conversations we have had with current and former women who work the streets of Holbeck we believe that none of them chose this “job” and none of them actually want to do it.

That’s why we have decided to publish Carol’s words – they come straight from the heart.

Do you know my pimp?  Do you know how many times I get battered at night?
Do you know how many times we get raped & battered every night?
I’ve been pimped out all my life. I’ve been raped all my xxxxing life.
I’m getting raped every day to do this shit (we think she means the drugs)
You think we don’t get raped every day?  You think we don’t get beaten like xxxxing sluts?

Conversation between Dr Kate Lister of Basis & Paula at Save Our Eyes

The following emails are the conversation between Save Our Eyes committee member, Paula Brown and Dr Kate Lister who works closely with Basis.  Basis are LCC partners in the Managed Approach.  Paula says “I’d never met Kate Lister or had any previous correspondence with her.  As she doesn’t know me she thought she’d “discovered” something controversial… when in fact, everybody knows my husband is an architect and works on the regeneration of Holbeck!  I’ve had meetings with Gemma, Joan and Moya who Kate knows at Basis.  They are all aware why I’m involved in helping the residents.”

1

Dear Paula,

Following the recent press coverage of the Leeds managed approach, I am writing an article for inews that will go to press this week.

I would like to interview you over the phone to discuss the campaign and the long term goals of Save Our Eyes.

Please let me know if you have any availability and would be willing to offer your perspective.

Many thanks,

Kate

2

Hi Kate,

I may not be the best person to talk to if you’re after an official SOE position.  Views of the committee members can differ on certain points.

Do you have a set of questions we could provide written answers to?  There’s an SOE committee meeting tonight.  I could draft some responses today and get them amended/ agreed this evening as I understand you’re on a tight schedule.

Best wishes,

Paula

3

Hi Paula,

Thank you for the offer of drafting responses as a group, I want to talk specifically to you, rather than the committee as a whole.

 Do you have time for a phone conversation this afternoon?

Kate

4

Hi Kate,

Sorry, I can’t. If you email me any questions I’ll do my best to have them back to you tomorrow morning.

Best wishes,

Paula

5

Dear Paula,

I’m sorry you can’t speak today, but here are my questions. My editor wants the article today, but I can request a brief extension if you would like to make a comment.

What is your role within Save Our Eyes? As I understand it, you do not live in Holbeck, but run much of the online content. Is that correct?

Do you feel there is a conflict of interest given that you are campaigning to close the managed area down, but are also a director at Nick Brown Architects – who currently have three projects to build near or in the managed area? Including ‘Radius’, which is directly in the managed area.

Did you or other committee members declare this conflict of interest to the press?

Kate

6

Thanks Kate,

I will draft something for you and send it over. However, just so you’re aware, I am not a director of NBA.

Best wishes,
Paula

7

Dear Paula,

According to company check, you are a director at this company. Could you also explain why this is so?

8

Dear Kate,

You should have checked the official listing at companies house!  If you look again at that link it actually says I was a director for around 6 weeks in 2012.  The CH listing will show you the current company directors.

Best wishes,

Paula

9

Thank you for the clarification. It’s helped enormously.

Kate

10 (this email was sent to Kate BEFORE she wrote her article in inews.  It is the email she quotes from in the article.)
Hi Kate,
Thanks for your questions.  The answers are probably simpler than you expect – there is nothing to hide!
I am one of a group of people who were asked by Matt to make up the SOE committee last year.  I am not the only committee member who lives outside Holbeck.  Members were chosen because they had specialist knowledge and/ or brought different things to the conversation.
Online content is managed by the committee and several people create the content.
Everyone who knows me or has met me in relation to the Holbeck campaign is aware that my husband is Nick Brown who is a local architect.  Nick has worked on the regeneration of urban Leeds for over 20 years.  We have been married for 28 years.  I am not actually a director of Nick Brown Architects or Citylife and am not paid by either company.  I am here on a voluntary basis because I believe in the cause.  There’s no need for me to formally “declare” anything as it’s made immediately obvious, usually as part of any round of introductions at meetings.
 If you check the map of the zone you’ll find that Radius is not in the zone, it is next to it.  Radius is one of four sites in Holbeck that Citylife and their partners aim to bring forward over the next 2-3 years.  Over the next 5 years several thousand residents will move into apartments in the vicinity of the zone.  Several developers, including CEG, are involved in the transformation to create thousands of new jobs and new homes for the people of Leeds.
However, before assuming any conspiracy, you need to be aware why the zone IS the zone now.  The South Bank regeneration would have been further on than it is if not for the recession of 2008.  As development did not take place that area of land was left as a mainly industrial area.  Being quiet at night and having no residential properties made it a candidate for the managed approach in 2014 (This is what was explained to me by council officers.)  Leeds council do not own the land there, only a percentage of it.  The rest is privately owned.  The council plan might be worth discussing with Martin Farrington, director of city development.  My understanding is that as the zone was chosen because there were no dwellings in it the zone will move once the new residential properties are built. (If you look at the zone map the odd shape of it is caused by residential apartments being omitted.)
Therefore, there is no need for property developers to worry about the location of the zone because it will not be there once the area becomes residential.  I got involved in the community campaign because I believe that the problems in residential Holbeck and Beeston caused by the sex industry may become worse once the industrial South Bank is regenerated if Leeds does not address the current situation.  People who live outside Holbeck are usually not aware of how street prostitution, kerb crawling and harassment of residents have expanded far beyond the boundaries of the zone.
On Twitter this week we have seen pro-managed approach campaigners telling residents to move house if they don’t like the sex industry presence on their streets.  The zone does not include any residential streets.  The residents have every right to complain without being insulted.  Another supporter suggested that residents are “taking pictures of one condom and one needle from different angles and presenting them as evidence that the streets are littered with it all.”  (see below for screen shots)
We have also seen pro-MA campaigners alleging that accounts of local residents who have been abducted & raped by kerb crawlers are “anti sex-work propaganda” and a “hoax.”  (screen shots below, articles here: http://saveoureyes.co.uk/abducted-from-holbeck-street-raped-after-being-mistaken-for-prostitute/  http://saveoureyes.co.uk/child-like-17-year-old-holbeck-rapist-escaped-conviction/ )
Aside from the resident’s concerns, I am one of the people who pushes for the women’s issues to be heard.  Many of them suffer terrible trauma and abuse at the hands of punters.  They have no choice but to keep working to fund their drug addictions.  We accept that not all the women are drug addicts but even conservative estimates start at 70%.  During the months I have spent in conversation with former prostituted women, experts, residents and charities I have been unable to find evidence that the women make a free choice to pursue a career in street prostitution.  Many appear to be the adult victims of child sexual exploitation. In a recent court case former prostitutes argued they should not be forced to reveal their convictions and should be considered victims of modern slavery.
The community are very concerned that too little is being done to help women exit the industry and rebuild their lives.  According to local charity, Joanna Project, the average duration of time spent in street prostitution in Holbeck is 9 years per woman.  This is far too long and we all need to work together to help reduce the suffering.
I have always encouraged local residents to have compassion for the women.  They are victims of the commercial sex industry… victims who are paying with their lives, health and sanity.
It occured to me last year that the residents problems can be solved by addressing the suffering of the women.  If we can lift the women out into better lives most of the residents will be happier too.

Best wishes,

Paula
Below are some screen shots of messages to local residents and Save Our Eyes taken from Twitter in the last week.

Dr Kate Lister “liked” the comment above made by Carmen.  The community feel that most pro-prostitution campaigners have failed to investigate what is happening to residents in Holbeck and have no understanding of the community complaints.  They will not accept any evidence that puts the zone in a bad light.

In Kate’s article for inews she writes “Just last week, Leeds based Nick Brown Architects Ltd submitted planning and listed building applications to Leeds City Council to build a 33-storey tower of luxury apartments in Holbeck, on Water Lane – a mere 0.3 miles from the boundary of the managed area. It is one of three major development projects Nick Brown is applying for that will be built just metres from where the managed area is now.”

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/holbeck-leeds-managed-zone-removing-it-will-only-displace-vulnerable-women/

The apartments she refers to are high quality rental properties for the people of Leeds to live in!  They are not high cost luxury apartments that will be out of reach of local people.  Rents have not yet been set because the properties have not been built, though rents are expected to be from £650 a month.

As the whole of the South Bank is earmarked for regeneration there are many architects, land owners and property developers involved.  The estimate is that 10,000 people will move into the area over the next 5-10 years.

I lost my child-like 17 year old niece to a Holbeck rapist who escaped conviction by claiming she was a prostitute

I live in the Beeston area and was close to my sister, Cheryl. Cheryl had three children, the youngest is Sally. We haven’t had much luck as a family. When Sally was just 15, her mum died. The family rallied round and Sally remained close to family members, especially her gran (my mother.) Sally has learning difficulties and eventually her social worker felt she’d be better off moving into supported accommodation. She was given a place in Harehills aged 16 where she was happy.

I suppose I should explain a little more about Sally. At the time she was attacked, in summer 2015, she was 17 and still living in Harehills. Her learning difficulties meant that she was rather child-like, more like a young 12 year old. The aim was to help build her independence. She had a bus pass and loved to travel back to Holbeck & Beeston to meet friends and family. Sally’s learning difficulties were immediately obvious to anyone who met her.

On the day she was attacked she had gone to visit a friend in Holbeck as she’d done independently many times before. Sally didn’t have a mobile phone, so she just set out on the trip hoping her friend would be in and enjoying the ride. She liked going out and having little day trips with her free disabled bus pass. Her friend wasn’t at home so Sally went back to the bus stop near City Evangelical Church and waited for the bus home. It was 2pm on a weekday afternoon. While she was waiting a man pulled his car up to the bus stop and started making small talk with her. He offered to give her a lift into Leeds instead of having to wait for the bus. Sally refused his offer but he became insistent that he wanted to give her a lift. As she would not accept he eventually got out of the car and forced her into it.

The man drove Sally to a house on Stratford Street in Beeston, not far away. He dragged her from the car into the house and raped her. After a while he went to the toilet and she ran for her life. She escaped and ran to a house opposite. The neighbours immediately tried to help and took her in. The police were called and the man was arrested. DNA evidence was obtained and the police seemed really confident they would secure a conviction. Due to the attack being so serious he wasn’t let out on bail. He stayed in prison on remand right up to the court date which I think was in October 2015.

“despite her mental age being 12, Sally was forced to testify in court”

My mother told the family that the attack had been so humiliating and degrading for Sally that it would be in Sally’s best interests if her own family were not told the full details. As a result we were asked not to even attend court. My mother went alone with Sally to court without the rest of the family.

Up to this point the proceedings had gone as well as could be expected… but a sad twist of fate meant that the court date fell after Sally’s 18th birthday. The defence forced her to appear and testify in open court, even though she had the mental age of a child. She was torn to shreds. The defence barrister argued that Sally was a prostitute and had been “waiting for business” at the bus stop. She really struggled to answer the aggressive questioning and just fell to pieces.

Even so, the police were shocked when the defendant was found not guilty. All he had to do was claim she was a prostitute and it was apparently believable because she was standing in an area where street prostitution occurs on a daily basis.

What you need to understand about the “managed approach for prostitution” is that it covers a small area of industrial Holbeck but the women & punters spread out way beyond the boundaries of the “zone.” As a result street prostitution is evident over a much larger area, including residential streets. This is why residents are campaigning for the zone to be closed.

We can’t protect the women of Holbeck and Beeston. When women are attacked the men involved can simply claim “I thought she was a prostitute!” and get away with it. Holbeck is the only area in Leeds where men can abduct and rape local women and get away with it. (Read Alice’s story here)

After the trial Sally completely lost her way in life. She got into an abusive relationship with a man and got pregnant. She desperately wanted to keep her baby but social services recommended he be adopted as Sally wasn’t mentally capable of raising a child alone. We haven’t seen her for a while now… she’s lost touch with her family.

I keep thinking about the defence barrister. To him it was just a job: keep his client out of jail no matter what. He was willing to put a rapist back onto the streets and condemn poor Sally to a life of hell. My family have lost confidence in the justice system and those who were supposed to protect us. Sally’s case is well known locally and I’ve been very vocal about it. I’m still so angry.

The residents need help and we need a solution. I don’t know what the solution is but I believe that if we prosecuted sex buyers and cleared the streets of kerb crawlers men would not be able to say “I thought she was a prostitute” in future.

Interview by Paula, Save Our Eyes Committee. This article is strictly copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.

Community leaders education event: watch the videos here

An education event for local community leaders was held at Holbeck Club on 21st June 2018.  Attendees included church leaders, Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum, local councillors, police officers and businesses.

Video 1 One of the brave ladies on this video asked for her identity to be concealed so the top of the video is hidden. Lisa & Claire spoke about their lives as heroin addicts at the recent educational event held for community leaders in Holbeck, Leeds. Lisa shoplifted to fund her addiction and Claire was forced into prostitution by her pimp/boyfriend. They tell their stories about life on the streets and how they were eventually freed with the help of international charity, Teen Challenge UK.

Alan Caton, Former detective superintendent of Ipswich Police talks about their programme to end street prostitution in the city.

Alan led the team that removed street prostitution from Ipswich in the UK. The approach was based on the Nordic Model and combined a comprehensive package of support for the women with a zero tolerance approach to kerb crawling. Presentation was at Holbeck Club, Leeds on 21st June 2018.

Fiona was forced into prostitution aged 15 and spent 11 years trapped in the sex industry. She exited 22 years ago and became a leading campaigner for the rights of prostituted women. She is an advisor to the UK government and the EU.

Fiona is part of SPACE International

I was abducted from a Holbeck street and raped after being mistaken for a prostitute

My name is Alice and I was once possibly just like you. I loved my work as a school teacher. I had a normal life which now seems so far away.

My story starts with my partner. He was abusive and this caused me mental health problems which became so bad that I was taken into a psychiatric hospital for my own protection and treatment.

On discharge I was homeless and I was given a place in a specialist refuge for women in Chapeltown, Leeds. I was recovering and hoped to re-build my life. I was then moved to another womens refuge in Holbeck, Leeds. As a domestic violence survivor I really struggled with the behaviour of some men in Holbeck. Although the refuge was outside the “managed zone” area there were lots of kerb crawlers in the residential streets – not just cars but men on foot. I found being approached for sex distressing and scary. I was a teacher! I have never been involved in the sex industry. I was offered money for sexual services regularly, around twice a week. Can you imagine what it’s like having to constantly explain to men that you are not a prostitute?

The other women in the refuge were all people who had suffered in life and were trying to make a recovery too. Most were really sweet and I made friends there. Many were scared too… we all had the same problem once we stepped out of the front door. Sex buyers would see us and assume we must be prostitutes because we were women walking about normally in Holbeck. There was a corner shop near the refuge. We couldn’t even get to the corner shop without being approached.

I expressed my concerns to the admins at Save Our Eyes and they gave me one of the rape alarms they had purchased. I carried it with me everywhere.

“Any woman seen walking the streets of Holbeck is a target for punters.  You don’t have to be in the “zone” to be approached by men.”

What happened in May 2018 changed everything. I went out one evening to meet a friend and we had a few drinks nearby. I wasn’t drunk. I walked back to the refuge around 11pm.  Just as I arrived a car pulled up next to me. It was the kerb crawlers as usual… this time was different though. There were 4 men in the car. They wound down the windows and started asking me to get in. They explained they wanted me to go with them to a party and it would be fun. I didn’t want to go with them but a couple of them got out of the car and took hold of me. Despite my protests they bundled me into the car. I couldn’t escape. Looking back I realise I was paralysed by it all and couldn’t believe what was happening.

They took me to a house not far away. There was no party… it was just me and them in the house. That’s when it became obvious they thought I was a prostitute. They were asking my prices for sexual services and offering me cash. I was terrified. I told them I’m not a prostitute but they didn’t believe me because they found me walking in the street in Holbeck. I have old self harm scars on my arms and they rolled up my sleeves and said the scars must be from doing drugs. I’ve never used drugs.

They attacked me and one of the men raped me. Afterwards I escaped in a panic and set off the rape alarm. I ran down the street banging on different front doors until one opened. The residents took me in and called the police.

I was examined and DNA evidence obtained. The police found my attacker and he was charged then bailed. I was never even told his name.

I was devastated when the police told me they were not pursuing the case. All he had to do to get away with abduction and rape was claim that I was a prostitute. They said it was my word against his and not worth taking the case to court. The refuge has a security camera outside but it wasn’t working so the evidence of my abduction was never available.

I’m speaking out because the authorities are housing vulnerable women in Holbeck where they are not safe. I wasn’t safe right outside the front door of a women’s refuge. We are told that the managed approach for prostitution is supposed to make women safer but in reality it does not. It puts women at risk because perverts and rapists are drawn to the area and made much bolder by the policy.

So what does the future hold for me?  Who knows… I’m left not even 30 years old with a broken heart and a broken life. I’ve moved away from Leeds now. I couldn’t feel safe there as I was not told the identity of my attackers and they will never be brought to justice.

I want justice and understanding. Vulnerable women need help. Housing us in Holbeck surrounded by perverts is not acceptable. I have to live with the consequences of the failure of the “managed approach” and I want people to understand what is really going on.

I have asked for my identity to be concealed but I still want my voice to be heard.

“If all European countries would see prostitution for what it really is, that it is part of men’s violence against women and a form of modern slavery, we would have a much better chance of fighting this crime.”
Simon Häggström, Swedish Detective Inspector, Prostitution Unit
Strictly copyright Save Our Eyes 2018.  Alice was interviewed by SOE committee member, Paula.  This interview has now been covered by The Telegraph here   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/25/teacher-living-next-legal-red-light-district-raped-man-believed/

How the managed approach to prostitution affects children in Leeds

How the managed approach to prostitution affects children in Leeds

Watch our video above!

All parents are cautious when it comes to the welfare of their children.  However, the parents of Holbeck and Beeston in Leeds have a very different level of awareness of the risks.
Here in Leeds, just going to the park or local play area needs to be carefully supervised due to the discarded needles, condoms and sex industry litter.

Prostituted women can be seen stepping into the road to try and flag down motorists and even having sex in the local phone box.  All of this during the day when children are watching.

Read the words of some local parents below as we look at how prostitution affects children in Leeds…

“I don’t let my oldest (11 years old) play out. He’s a sweet, sensible lad, but I wouldn’t want to risk him accidentally touching a used needle or condom. I also don’t want him to witness seeing a prostitute looking for business, or one staggering around either drunk or high on drugs. These kind of situations are always a risk, if I’m there or not, however if I am there, I know how to deal with these situations, an 11 year old would not, and should not know how to deal with this. So everywhere he goes, I’m always there with him, and I’m genuinely afraid of not being there.

When I visit family in different parts of leeds, I feel much more comfortable letting him be outside, playing with friends etc. But in this part of leeds, he sadly is missing out on this part of childhood.
We used to walk to school, but unfortunately witnessed countless girls being picked up and dropped off, so we now drive to school every day, simply because I don’t think children should have to witness this kind of thing in their day to day lives.”

“I have had to explain to two 6 year olds about prostitutes. How does one explain to their primary school aged children about these women selling their bodies? We also can’t use the park because of all the needles and other paraphernalia strewn about.

We have no other option but to walk and I am constantly on my guard. They’ve also witnessed people openly taking drugs on the benches while walking home from school. This is not a life that any child should have to face.”

“We are constantly seeing condoms, wrappers and some needles whilst out and about and I don’t let him run around as much unless I have checked the surrounding area! He is 4, he should be able to run where he wants and not worry about coming across things like this.  Also we see prostitutes around his school at various times of the day and around the local area, he’s now noticing them more and asks why they don’t have clothes on or why they are trying to stop cars!”

“I appreciate that my experiences are nowhere near the same magnitude as the local residents but my experiences just show how it affects the wider areas also. I’m in Beeston but I travel with my kids through Holbeck on a near daily basis. I have to tell my girls we cannot visit the park they are so desperate to play on… that the women trying to flag my car down don’t need help… that the women are dressed the way they are because they are going to a party. I am constantly lying to them to protect their innocence and being the “bad guy” for saying that they can’t play on the park. I hate it and mine are minors I really don’t know how residents cope with it all so close to home.”

“My daughter doesnt play out. She has been called names and even had a death threat. ( the police were informed) I’m scared to walk my dog as I have had the pimps have a go at me coz im putting customers off.  I have had to explain to my daughter about things she shouldnt know about. Im quite lucky now as I dont get that much. However the school she attends has had to put a mesh fence up as they were finding needles and human waste and condoms on the school field. She has to walk under the fly over and there is always all sorts about. I dont go to the park anymore. Why would you? Its awful. I dont use any local shops, I would rather drive somewhere else or go without as I dont want to be anywhere near that side of the park. Its gutting to see what’s happened over the years to Holbeck.”

“My daughter was followed home from school by a man making rude comments and trying to touch her. She is now 18 and has been approached after going to the cash machine at Kasa and asked for money by one of the women. She may be 18 and now works part time but I no longer want her to walk home after work and we now pay for taxis.”

“A group of children playing out after school saw a couple having sex in the phone box!”

“I won’t use the park with my 2 children.  I worry setting off at 7.30 on a morning walking the streets with my 2 kids.  We see girls with practically nothing on drinking strong lager and flagging cars down while we’re stood waiting for a bus on a school morning. I use the bus stop that has most CCTV surrounding it as I don’t feel safe stood at others. We see condoms, packets of lube & needles on a daily basis.  I don’t even let my 8 year old play in my fenced garden because of the vulgar behaviour by some of the girls out side my local shop. I actually hate living in holbeck and when summer comes around I think it gets worse. Men scouting the area looking for working girls… I won’t wear my shorts or a skirt in fear I’ll be mistaken for a working girl!”

Prostitution affects children in Leeds.  Do you feel this is acceptable?  Add your own experiences of living near the “managed approach for prostitution” in the comments section below…

Laura Walton on local issues and why she’s standing for election as councillor for Beeston Holbeck ward

Laura Walton on local issues and why she’s standing for election as councillor for Beeston Holbeck ward

What brought you to Holbeck?

I was born & grew up in Beeston. I attended Matthew Murray school then moved to Holbeck aged 19 when I wanted to spread my wings and get a place of my own! I didn’t move far really! My parents still live locally and it’s great to have so many friends and family in the area.

What do you love about Holbeck?

The people! I’ve lived here 20 years now and have met so many wonderful people. I worked at Ingram Road primary school for 11 years as a teaching assistant and loved it. Made a lot of life long friends. Holbeck is an amazing community. When my daughter was young everyone knew each other, we used to pop into each others homes on the street for a cuppa while the kids played.

The change from being a teaching assistant to owning your own shop seems quite a leap. How did that happen?

I had a fall at home one day and hurt my back. It was a long and painful recovery. I eventually had to find a new occupation as I couldn’t manage working at the school any more. I got bored at home and started selling things on ebay to fill my time which turned into quite a hobby. Late in 2016 I walked past and saw the shop was empty… in that moment my eyes lit up! I jumped at the chance to run it and contacted the landlord straight away. “New to You” opened in January 2017.

It’s become more than a shop though, it’s also a community hub where people come for support, help and even just a chat. It’s great to be able to offer help and support to my community.

I’ve heard rumours about you being a crazy dog lady?!

I confess, it’s true! It’s not just my three gorgeous dogs though! I’ve also got a cat, a rabbit and some fish. My own mini petting zoo!

The next big step for you is standing as a candidate in the May 2018 council elections. What prompted you to do that?

Being a Leeds City Councillor is about local people representing their own communities. I’ve spent my life here in the Beeston & Holbeck ward. I want residents to have a voice – I want to make sure we are heard and our wishes are taken into account.

I’m concerned that some of the things that have happened here are not in our best interests. I want to play my part in making sure that whatever is added to this area or taken away from it is good for the community. I have no previous political experience, I just want to be someone residents can trust to look after their interests.

Possibly the most controversial thing that’s been added here is the “managed approach for prostitution.” What are your thoughts on that?

I believe the zone shouldn’t be here. We need to put something in place and work with other agencies to prevent street prostitution affecting our lives to this extent. It’s not just the residents who suffer, the women who are being used don’t seem to have any quality of life. We’d all be better off if we could end street prostitution across the area. It’s the shameful exploitation of women in our community. A national disgrace. It’s not just the women though – kerb crawlers and drug dealers need removing too.

What other issues particularly concern you?

We need to make sure residents are not inconvenienced by excessive noise and dirt from construction projects. For example, the building work on the IcePak site must be monitored to avoid too much disruption for residents.

With the redevelopment of Leeds South Bank we have a lot of construction to live through over the next 10 years. At the same time, we need to work together to ensure the wider community benefits from the huge investment that is coming. The most important thing for the next 2 weeks is to support the Neighbourhood Plan vote on Thursday 1st March. Our Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum will be well funded compared to many others. By voting “yes” on 1st March we can put 25% of the “community infrastructure levy” the developers pay the council right into the hands of our community. We can have a say in how it’s spent!

In Beeston, one of the main issues is the park & ride scheme. Pollution levels & congestion must be monitored.

Litter is a problem in Holbeck. There are not enough bins. We need urgent action to eliminate sex industry litter. Some streets are lined with hazardous waste like used condoms and drug addicts syringes & needles.

Cottingley residents have issues including no parks for children, poor bus service and local amenities . These things are taken for granted by residents in other parts of Leeds and should be available here too.

What’s your vision for the future? For you personally and for the area?

I’d like be able to run the shop as a successful business to support my family. My daughter is now 18, she’s at college in Leeds. She aims to study criminal psychology at university so it’s an exciting time for us as a family.

For Holbeck, I want to bring back some of the old community spirit and make it a better place to live. A safe, family area again. Make it an area where people are proud to live… I can’t be the only person who gets funny looks when they say they live in Holbeck now. The reputation of this area has been destroyed. I want to be part of the solution. Holbeck & Beeston have so much potential. I’m looking forward to the South Bank regeneration, hopefully that will play a big part in turning around the problems we face at the moment. One day when I say “I live in Holbeck” I want people to reply “Oh it’s lovely there!”

One day when I say “I live in Holbeck” I want people to reply “Oh it’s lovely there!”

Laura Walton will stand for election as a “Save Our Beeston & Holbeck” independent candidate on 3rd May. This year, due to boundary changes in Leeds, each voter will have 3 votes and all 3 local council seats will be contested.

Follow Laura on Facebook here

Interview by Paula at Save Our Eyes.

The Oxfam scandal in Haiti: why does it matter to Leeds?

The Oxfam scandal in Haiti: why does it matter to Leeds?

Opinion:

 

The Oxfam Haiti scandal: why does it matter to Leeds?

If you’ve listened to the national news over the last couple of days you’ll have heard the media outrage regarding the story of several Oxfam staff being sacked for choosing to visit local prostitutes whilst on aid work in Haiti.  This may seem a world away but the story has a relevance to our lives in Holbeck. 

 

Firstly, we understand the Oxfam staff used their own money to buy sexual services from women who were adults and seemingly willing to participate. Why were these women willing?  It’s easy to see that their poverty made them willing… perhaps we could even say that poverty forced them into prostitution?
In Leeds we have a similar situation: we know that 90% of prostituted women working the streets of Holbeck are drug addicts.  They are under a financial pressure to perform sexual services, it’s the only way they can afford their drugs.
Can we agree that both the Haitian women and the Holbeck women are essentially in the same situation?  Both are “choosing” to work as prostitutes but it’s not a real choice.  It’s their only choice.
So this brings us to the matter of the media coverage.  Hmm… what a difference!  In Leeds we are told by the experts at Safer Leeds and the Police that prostitution is a “proper job” the world’s oldest profession… so the City should give the sex industry a zone in which to operate freely to make work better for the women.
The same experts teach us that there is nothing wrong with men paying for the services of the women who choose to engage in these “proper jobs.”
Those in the community who oppose the “managed approach” are criticised as unsympathetic to the women, NIMBY’s or overly moralistic.
Yet compare that to the media coverage of the Haitian issue.  If there is nothing wrong with men paying for sexual services then why did Oxfam sack the men involved?  The same men would have been welcomed to abuse Leeds women for money.
The UK government is threatening to withdraw funding to charities that allow their staff to abuse women overseas.  Yet the UK offers an abuse zone in the heart of Leeds?  It seems the government are working on a 2-tier system when it comes to morality. On the one hand they are damning in their criticism (and rightly so) regarding the abuse of women in troubled zones who when presented with the chance to earn money so that their families can eat they take it. On the other hand the government legislates a legal prostitution area where the women who are in this sad existence are encouraged to carry on instead of being given help to lift them out of it.
It doesn’t make sense.  We believe that people should be opposed to the sexual slavery of women all around the world OR support it all around the world.  Holbeck women deserve the same rights as Haitian women. The abuse of women is wrong, no matter where it happens in the world.
– Laura Walton.
Laura is a Holbeck resident and runs a business in the area.  She is standing in the Leeds City Council elections as an independent candidate to try and improve the situation in Holbeck.

Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament Survey on street harassment

Ladies of Holbeck & Beeston Hill we need you!

 

The Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament are doing a consultation on the harassment of women and girls in the street.
Save Our Eyes will gather your stories and submit them on behalf of the community.

They want to ask us:

“What evidence, if any, is there of links between harmful attitudes and other behaviours such as paying for sex or using pornography?”

Please send us your stories!

Have you ever been kerb crawled?  Asked for sex at the bus stop?  Confronted near the chemists? Pestered by the Post Office?

Have you received offensive remarks because men in the area assumed you must be offering your services to them?  After all, why else would you be out in the street?!!

You can write about your experiences in the comments section below or email them to the Save Our Eyes Committee using the contact form.

Please send your comments and stories by 23rd February to allow us time to compile them for submission.

Thank you!

Contact the Save Our Eyes committee here.  This form is also for media contact enquires.

 

We aim to respond within 24 hours so please check your spam folder.