10 (this email was sent to Kate BEFORE she wrote her article in inews. It is the email she quotes from in the article.)
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)
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.