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.

Punter of the Week: driving PK10 GKA red Vauxhall

Punter of the Week: driving PK10 GKA red Vauxhall

Ooh Grandad! Did the law abiding workers of Holbeck really need to see this?  Please share to let him know he’s the winner of our coveted Punter of the Week feature!

An older gentleman took a prostituted woman into public view and had sex with her in the back of his car.  We were originally supplied with video and have taken some screen shots from it.

Wouldn’t this sight put you off your food?  Please share to help him discover that this behaviour is not acceptable.

Punters cruising the residential streets of Holbeck is against the rules of the managed approach.  Any men breaking the rules are deemed to have consented to appear in our “punter of the week” feature.  On-street prostitution is permitted by LCC in a different area of Leeds between the hours of 7pm and 6am.

The competition for our Punter of the Year prize will be even more intense in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Can he win?  Only time will tell!  Please submit your kerbcrawler photos or videos via the Save Our Eyes Facebook group.

Punter of the Week: Silver VW reg NC05 0PX kerb crawled local woman

Punter of the Week: Silver VW reg NC05 0PX kerb crawled local woman

Congratulations to this randy little chappie! Please share to let him know he’s the winner of our coveted Punter of the Week feature!

Silver VW registration NC05 0PX managed to kerb crawl a local mum while she was on her way to a meeting about the managed approach.

She explains “I was kerbcrawled by this man en route to a managed approach meeting.  Reported him on MA number. He saw me cross Jack Lane, by the time I got to Trent St he’d parked up with open window. I asked if he was looking for business, he asked me “Where can we go?  Is it safe?” I walked away and took this pic.”

Another local woman said “This car is always hanging around by the Royal Mail depo”  (near the managed approach area)

Punters cruising the residential streets of Holbeck is against the rules of the managed approach.  Any men breaking the rules are deemed to have consented to appear in our “punter of the week” feature.  On-street prostitution is permitted by LCC in a different area of Leeds between the hours of 7pm and 6am.

The competition for our Punter of the Year prize will be even more intense in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Can he win?  Only time will tell!  Please submit your kerbcrawler photos via the Save Our Eyes Facebook group.

I was harassed by a group of prostitutes and pimps in Holbeck

I’ve lived in Holbeck over 20 years and last night was the scariest night of my life.  I’m retired now after running a newsagents in the city centre for many years.
Every week I meet up with a group of friends at The Holbeck Club.  We enjoy a few beers and have a natter.  Last night started off the same as usual, we had a good evening.  One of my friends gets a taxi home to avoid dealing with the prostituted women and pimps in the streets and he offered me a lift.  I declined as I prefer to walk home and get a bit of exercise.  I left the Club at 11.30pm and took my usual route that avoids most of the prostitution-related activity around the St Matthews community centre.  St Matthews is well away from the “managed area” but there are still lots of punters and prostitutes around there.

I hadn’t gone far at all, I hadn’t even reached Holbeck Moor, when a punter in a car dropped a woman off in the street near me.  She and I were walking in opposite directions towards each other.  I thought she’d just pass me by but she asked “Are you looking for business?”

I kept my head down and didn’t reply, just kept walking.  She changed direction and started following me, shouting at me “You don’t want business?  What’s wrong with you? Aren’t I good enough for you?” I thought the safest thing to do was keep quiet and keep walking.

“It was like a zombie apocalypse… people rising up in the darkness and walking towards me…”

Then, out of nowhere, a man appeared.  He joined in, shouting at me “Isn’t she good enough for you?” Now they were both after me!  The man looked Asian but he wasn’t… he started shouting out in another language, possibly Romanian.  His shouts drew other people out from the darkness.  People were appearing, also shouting in a language I could not understand.  Moving towards me.  It was like a scene from a zombie movie.  I couldn’t see them properly, I could only see their shapes coming closer.  That’s when I started to think I was really in trouble.

I decided to try and get through a small cul-de-sac nearby to escape but I hadn’t realised it was closed off at the end.  The people shouting at me seemed to know there was no escape for me.  Seven of them stood across the entrance to the street to make sure I could not escape. They were three foreign men and four white women.
I got out my phone and dialled 999, had to do it 3 times before I got it right!  My confusion with the phone meant they thought I was taking photos of them, then they heard me asking for the police.  Immediately they all ran away in different directions.  I was left alone wondering what on earth had just happened to me.
When I got home I went to the Save Our Eyes Facebook group and reported the incident there.  Another member told me there would be a consultation event for local elderly people today at St Matthews community centre.  So I went along this lunchtime.
Some of our ward councillors were there with police representatives.  We discussed residents issues with the managed approach while in small groups around tables.  The councillor on my table talked about the project as though it had been successful which confused me a little.

When the event finished I left the building around 1.15pm.  Straight away a prostitute approached me asking if I wanted business!  I was already talking to someone on my mobile phone so I ignored her and did not reply.  Then she started following me in the street shouting at me!  I turned around to go back to the meeting as some people were still there chatting.  I wanted the councillors to come out with me and see what was happening.  The woman followed me all the way to the door.  

Once inside, I saw the two councillors in the hall listening to a man talking.  I didn’t interrupt them, just waited a while to try and catch Councillor Gabriel’s eye.  When she saw me she lifted up her finger to her mouth and quietly went “Shhh…” so I knew not to talk.
I was furious and walked out of the building again.  It’s clear to me that if one pensioner can get harassed in the streets twice in 24 hours the managed approach is not working.  There are multitudes of pimps and prostitutes waiting to try and obtain money from local residents.  Until last night, I had not realised how many people lurk in the darkness in our residential areas waiting to prey on us.
This is a community safety issue.  We need urgent help to clear these predators from our streets. I no longer feel safe here and I know many other residents feel the same way.

Helen’s 13 year old daughter was harassed by a punter. She explains, “The “managed approach” has made the punters and prostitutes much bolder than they were before.  Their attitudes towards the local residents can be shocking.  The sex industry are trying to claim the whole of Holbeck, not just the small area they have been allocated for the zone.”
Read their story here 

Strictly copyright Save Our Eyes 2019.  John was interviewed by SOE committee member, Paula, on 30th May 2019

How the Managed Approach for Prostitution affects businesses and people working in Holbeck

“I work for a local engineering company.  I am seriously pissed off. Twice I have sent my engineers to Holbeck in the past week. And twice they have been propositioned by these ‘ladies’. They work bloody hard, my engineers and shouldn’t have to be hounded by prostitutes. First time there were two engineers in one van on their way to my house to pick something up. Second time it was my tanker driver. He stopped to wait for a break in the traffic because of the sheer size of the tanker and she climbed up on the ladders to offer him sex.”

“Any man is the target of unwanted offers of sex.  Prostitutes approaching them will often try to barter by offering lower and lower prices if a man declines.”

“I was walking down Garnet Road (not near the “zone”) one afternoon after visiting Monster Kids with my 8 year old daughter and 5 year old niece.  The business area on the left as we walked down had in the back area a prostitute injecting a man in the groin. My eight year old said “err mam what was that?”

“I work at the wharf on Neville street Leeds and walk down Water Lane from the Ingram gardens estate every morning and evening . There are now three of us (sometimes 4) meeting every evening to walk home together as each one of us has been approached by punters on our way home (may I add not until we reach the top of water lane / czsar street.)  I personally have been approached at 4.30 in the afternoon, out of the area and time for the zone, we’re all sick of it.”

“I was in my office at lunchtime when staff started calling me to come.  They had spotted a couple having sex outside.  On our land!  I ran outside with my camera and confronted them.  You can see my report to Save Our Eyes here.”

I don’t work in the zone but my shop is in Holbeck.  Due to the harassment and presence of prostitutes and pimps in the area I no longer feel safe to be in my shop alone. A man was stabbed and thrown on my shop steps on a Saturday afternoon. Due to prostitutes in the house next door we saw fights, swearing, drinking and inappropriate behaviour. As you can imagine I lost customers.
One Saturday lunch time, a man visiting my shop was flashed at by a drunk prostitute.  She was in the street without underwear, lifting up her dress to show passing men.

Even the churches are not safe.  A local resident told us about a prostitute who attended a local church to steal from the worshippers.

“Got to church, City Evangelical, this morning and sat at back with my son.  I noticed the woman in front of us had matted hair and was lolling back and forward in a state.  She had Layla tattooed across back of her neck.

She kept leaning forward with a jumper over her hands and trying to pickpocket coats of folks in front,  so a lady turned round and lent her the coat as she said she was cold. She passed out for rest of service in her seat.

We woke her with a cup of sugary coffee and she ate her body weight in apple pie, profiteroles and biscuits while people chatted with her, she said she was from Ireland. She was constantly looking around.  She got up and went to sit further forwards then put a ladies handbag under her cardigan and went for the exit.  As she passed me to leave I grabbed the strap of the bag and said she’d have to leave it and we had a brief tussle!  She let go and ran out. I returned the bag to its owner and called the managed approach dedicated number. 

A police officer on a bicycle came 5 mins later and said he’d just seen her down the road and sent a car to pick her up. It was a well known local prostitute.  The lady whose bag was taken wouldn’t press charges but police said they’d give her a talking to… where’s that bolt of lightning from the heavens when you need it?”

Our Mission:

Save Our Eyes campaigns for the rights of all Leeds residents whose lives are blighted by the “managed approach to prostitution” which is currently located in the Holbeck area and spreading to other parts of the city.

We aim to become a community where residents are not subjected to daily harassment from kerb crawlers, prostituted women, danger from discarded condoms, needles and sex industry litter.

We aim to see prostituted women freed from the grips of a drug addiction that was created to enslave them. We recognise that the women who are prostituted would rather lead different lives and we support their wishes to exit the sex industry.

Both sides in this dispute want the same outcome: a peaceful life free from prostitution and abuse.

Punter of the Week: Silver VW FG54 YAF: Sex outside the primary school

Punter of the Week: Silver VW FG54 YAF: Sex outside the primary school

Another “punter of the week” showing no respect for local residents.

A mother arriving to collect her children from a Holbeck primary school was shocked to find this man having sex in his car with a prostitute just metres from the school gate.  This was at 3.10pm as the children were due to finish school.

She says “I’ve lived in Holbeck 12 years and the problems with prostitution have never been as bad as they are now.  It’s getting worse.  I was so shocked to see this outside the school.”

Punters, please take prostituted women to your own homes.  Do not have sex in public, especially when children are due to walk past your car!

Your punter of the week prize can be collected from the customer services desk at Elland Road Police Station.

In this screen shot from the video the woman can be seen in a stripy top.  She’s on top of a man who is reclined in the drivers seat.

Our Mission:

Save Our Eyes campaigns for the rights of all Leeds residents whose lives are blighted by the “managed approach to prostitution” which is currently located in the Holbeck area and spreading to other parts of the city.

We aim to become a community where residents are not subjected to daily harassment from kerb crawlers, prostituted women, danger from discarded condoms, needles and sex industry litter.

We aim to see prostituted women freed from the grips of a drug addiction that was created to enslave them. We recognise that the women who are prostituted would rather lead different lives and we support their wishes to exit the sex industry.

Both sides in this dispute want the same outcome: a peaceful life free from prostitution and abuse.

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