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.

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.