Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Some things that the Leeds Council Executive Board Should Know

Dear Executive Board
cc YEP, Radio Leeds, Look North
We have read the documents that precede this final piece of advice from Corporate Services/ Asset Management. We were pleased to see most of arguments acknowledged, but surprised that the natural conclusion was lost in their recommendation. Our argument, at the West Park campaign Group is not with the council, but with the unelected officials who recommend demolition.

If you vote for this . . . 
You know that all Leeds top orchestras and choruses won't be able to practise sectionals, and that the high quality of their music will be compromised. You know that the leader of Leeds Symphony Orchestra personally checked out over 35 alternatives venues, and found nowhere else suitable.
You know that, at the last big YAMSEN event, teenagers in wheelchairs had to have their hygiene pads changed [behind screens] in the bar area at St Chads - where's the dignity in that?
You know that storage and parking and location are not equalled anywhere else in Leeds.
You should know that Leeds Youth Opera, having nowhere anymore to store their wonderful costumes has given them away.
You know that YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic still has no base. 

You may know that two of the YAMSEN committee [myself and D Paterson] have been awarded the fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts for our contribution to education, and especially education for children with disabilities or with challenging behaviour, and/or live in challenging circumstances. Which I hope informs you as to the high standards and quality of our work.
You should know that our meetings with councillors were brief to the point of pointless.
You know that none of people making this life or death decision has come to watch the orchestras practise in the "temporary" rehearsal spaces, or to watch the adults with disabilities take part in  their workshops in the West Park Church.
You probably only know how bad the West Park electrics are and how expensive to run decent performance and rehearsal spaces are.
Corporate Services seem to see a carpark that fits a whole fleet of SEN adapted minibuses or 100 orchestral players as some sort of thwarted housing estate.
You know that both keeping the building empty [and the same for Royal Park] and demolition cost money.
You know that most ex-users would like to return, and new-users wait in the wings.
You should know that those who recommend demolition seem to have no understanding of the needs of the Arts, and for the Arts, and of the Arts for those with Additional Needs. 

And you should know that all local councillors understand the value of the West Park Centre, and have publicly supported its continued existence. 

Lastly, you should know that there may well be many displaced council employees who are unhappy with the situation but, who, because they are council employees cannot comment.  

It is time that the decision-makers met fully with the ex-users, properly debated all the options, and got the main hall etc up and running again as soon as possible, having thoroughly replaced all the electrics.  And I hope that tomorrow the executive board throws out this bizarre response to a massive need for the West Park Centre to re-open.
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA [YAMSEN Committee member -vice chair]

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