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Be Inspired Get Involved

In the build up to the London Olympics in 2012, I was looking for ways to use the games as a catalyst to inspire people of all ages in Leeds to take up sports. I had raised on a number of occasions with Ministers my concerns that a proper legacy from the games was not being appropriately considered. As part of a legacy I felt it was important that people across the country saw a benefit and that clubs across the country saw an increase in numbers. In the build up to the games there were still real concerns that any legacy benefit would be limited to London.

Olympic Opening

Greg launching Olympic Opening Ceremony at Brudenell Primary School

For this reason I organised the Be Inspired, Get Involved sports fairs in North Leeds. These events brought together a whole range of different sports clubs that operate in North Leeds in one place at the same time, allowing members of the public to look at what each club was able to offer and decide whether or not to join a club that suited their interests.

The events were held in two schools in North Leeds, Lawnswood Secondary and St Mary's in Menston, and we involved the school children as much as possible in the process, which included some of them becoming Sports Makers. We also had a number of celebrity sports personalities at the events including Brian Deane former Leeds United player, Jamal Chisholm and Chris Clarkson players for Leeds Rhinos. Around 50 local sports clubs were involved with both events and well over 100 members of the public attended. Both of these events were a great success with clubs and the public. I saw many people signing up to local clubs and understand that take up was generally very good.

In September I spoke about Be Inspired Get Involved at Culture, Media and Sports questions in the House of Commons. In addition to this I have spoken to Nick Clegg about the initiative and am currently arranging a meeting to discuss it with the Sports Minister.

If you are interested in joining a local sports club you can find contact details for most of them on the West Yorkshire Sport website, http://www.wysport.co.uk/play/club-search/.

Promoting Cycling

In addition to the other sporting activities that I have been involved with, I have been actively trying to improve cycling facilities within Leeds. This has been a long running project that I will continue to pursue until members of the public have access to a complete network of safe cycle paths and lanes as well competitive sporting facilities.

Greg with Otley Cycling Club

Greg with Otley Cycling Club

I have been in regular contact with Leeds City Council for a number of years regarding the work that they are doing to improve the current state of cycle lanes around the city. I have met with senior officers for both highways and the sports recreation departments. These have been positive meetings in which we discussed how the city can best improve the facilities that we currently have.

In addition to these meetings I have also met with John Mills the Coaching, Education and Development Director at British Cycling. John outlined the ideas that British Cycling has across the UK and including Leeds. He outlined at the time the difficulties that they were having engaging with Leeds City Council and how they wished to progress.

I have also regularly canvassed constituents for their own opinions on cycling facilities in Leeds via my email list (for details of my email list and an explanation of how to join please click here). The hundreds of responses that I have received show the interest, need and desire in improving these facilities.

Further to this I have also raised concerns over the lack of facilities with the Department for Transport and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Following this a debate was held in the House of Commons which highlighted many of the key points including the need of improvements.

This is an ongoing campaign and I will continue to meet with relevant bodies that can help to improve cycle routes. Should you wish to be kept up to date with any developments regarding the work I am doing in this area please do let me know.

Tour de France Yorkshire

Since the announcement in 2012 that the Tour de France would be coming to Yorkshire there has been a huge amount of work done to not only get the County ready for the biggest cycling event in the world, but also to ensure that we achieve a tangible legacy for the people of Yorkshire.

I have been a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Tour de France Group, which provided Parliamentary support for the Grand Depart in Yorkshire and other UK stages to ensure that economic, social and cultural benefits are maximised. As a part of this I have worked closely with Welcome to Yorkshire and Leeds City Council.

Thankfully the Tour de France was a huge success, watched by millions of people across Yorkshire. Its amazing success has led to an application for a three day Tour of Yorkshire that will take in May 2015 over the bank holiday weekend, with the hope that it will become an annual race. The race would be a fully professional UCI sanctioned event. The decision to hold this is now with the Cycling authorities. Television coverage of this event and similar future events would provide a huge boost to the region's economy.

West Park Centre

The West Park Centre was a cultural hub and a valuable asset to the whole city and was the home of many local organisations which operated there. However, the facilities had been at the centre of political battles and have had an uncertain future for well over a decade. I campaigned to keep the West Park Centre open in conjunction with local Weetwood Councillors, Jonathan Bentley, Sue Bentley and Judith Chapman.

West Park

Greg at the West Park Centre with the Councillors

On 2 November 2012, councillors were informed that the centre's electrical system had suddenly become unsafe and posed a serious risk to those using the centre and it had to be closed to protect public safety. The announcement to councillors that The West Park Centre would be closing with immediate effect was a huge shock to the local community and the organisations that used the centre.

I inspected the site on 3 November and discovered a function being held at the centre for approximately 200 people along with the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Ann Castle, as a special guest.

Following the closure of the West Park Centre I wrote to the Council asking them to urgently put together a funding bid for a University Technical College (UTC) on the site, which would have allowed the cultural and community use of the centre to continue. A bid at this time would have had the potential to secure approximately £11 million of funding, secure the future of the centre as a community and cultural facility and provide a space for non-traditional practical education for 14-19 year olds and children aged 9-13 who don't necessarily thrive in a traditional educational environment. The Council however refused to support a bid for a UTC on the West Park Centre site.

Following this I submitted a Freedom of Information request which called for correspondence sent and received by the Council as well as details of meetings about it. The Council responded, refusing to release the requested information claiming that it would take them too long to compile it.

I also wrote to members of the Leeds City Council Executive Board urging them to re-open the West Park Centre to allow local user groups to resume activities there, ahead of a discussion its future.

However, in June 2013, the council decided to close the centre. Whilst many of the groups that used the centre have found new premises, we have lost a fantastic community hub and a fantastic opportunity to secure millions of pounds in investment for West Park and for Leeds.

There is suspicion amongst both West Park users and local residents that the Council had already decided what they would do with the West Park Centre, and residents and users have rightly been deeply dismayed by the way in which the Centre was closed, by what they have learned about the lack of maintenance carried out on the property over the years and by misinformation that has circulated. There is a widespread perception that the Council has not been open and transparent about the Centre.

Unfortunately, the West Park Centre has now been demolished. We are currently awaiting the planning brief for the site which should be made available in Autumn 2014. It is then expected that the site will be marketed shortly after this.

There are still many clubs and former users of the centre that have not been able to find suitable alternative facilities. It is a disgrace that Leeds City Council have taken the course of action that they have without putting any plans in place for local residents and groups that used the centre.

Victory on Pool Post Office future

I welcomed the decision by Post Office to retain the Pool Post Office in the village shop and designate it a Community Branch.

With gary and paula

In 2014 I called a meeting with representative from Post Office Ltd, after learning that the Post Office bosses are considering relocating the Pool Post Office to the busy Shell petrol station, which can only be reached by car or for pedestrians, by crossing a busy major road.

I pointed out to the Post Office Ltd bosses that they had a made a fundamental flaw, which meant that the entire decision making process and subsequent correspondence with the McNeils, who run the Pool Post Office, was invalid. I concluded the meeting by saying that there are no suitable alternatives within half a mile of the shop which currently houses the post office, as the Shell petrol station is on a busy main road, and therefore the current Pool Post Office should be made a Community Branch.

After the meeting, I wrote to Post Office Ltd stating that the fundamental flaw makes its decision making process and proposals invalid, so the whole process must be scrapped and considered null and void. I also said in his letter to Post Office Ltd that the current Pool Post Office can and should be categorised as a 'Community Post Office' as there is clearly no suitable alternative location for Pool Post Office with their own qualifying distance of half a mile.

Post Office Ltd has now agreed with my conclusion and agreed to retain the Pool Post Office in the village shop and designate it a Community Branch.

Throughout the decision making process, Post Office bosses have failed to consult with local residents on the proposed relocation of Pool Post Office, so as Pool's MP I asked residents for their views - thank you to everyone who replied to the survey.

Campaigns to save Spring Gardens and Suffolk Court Care Homes

Greg at Spring Gardens

Greg at Spring Gardens Care Home

For a number of years Leeds City Council have followed a policy of trying to close down Council owned care homes. This process has left hundreds of residents across Leeds North West confused and extremely concerned about their futures.

The fight for Spring Gardens in Otley was a long protracted affair which is yet to reach its conclusion.

In January 2010 Leeds City Council began consulting on the possibility of closing a number of care homes across Leeds, one of which was Spring Gardens, as part of a city-wide review of all residential homes and day centres.

However, after the council had assured residents that a full and genuine consultation would be held before any decision was made on the closure, I obtained a document showing that only days after giving assurances at a public meeting, senior councillors and officers discussed plans to sell Spring Gardens for housing development.

Following this I asked a question in Parliament, highlighting the potential closure of Spring Gardens and enquiring as to whether local authorities should be closing elderly care wards, forcing residents to relocate, at a time when the number privately run care homes across Leeds were also being reduced.

Friends of Spring Gardens and their supporters, organised a 2,000-signature petition against the closure, which I presented to Parliament and after months of urging Leeds City Council to reconsider their decision or put in place alternative arrangements, the council finally acquiesced and the Executive Board agreed in September 2011 to decommission Spring Gardens only after completion of newly built alternative facilities in Otley. This ensured that no residents would be relocated for two years, and that no resident would be forced to seek alternative accommodation at a private care home, outside of their local community.

The Friends of Spring Gardens continue to campaign against the closure.

Greg with Elizabeth Morris and Barbara Tattersall of Suffolk Court Action Group ()

Greg with Elizabeth Morris and Barbara Tattersall of Suffolk Court Action Group

In addition to this Suffolk Court in Yeadon has recently been placed under threat as the Council has decided that it also needed to close the continuing care services provided on site. The decision was made at the beginning of 2013 and has moved quickly since then.

The initial decision was to move existing residents out of the home and change the facility into an intermediate care centre. This obviously caused a great deal of distress for existing residents, some of whom were aged over 100 years. There was a considerable amount of opposition to the decision that Leeds City Council made in requesting that existing residents move out.

Residents and family members put together a petition to keep Suffolk Court open. I then presented a copy of the petition to Parliament with the original being presented to Leeds City Council.

Following this, and numerous letters to Leeds City Council, I finally managed to get them to agree in writing, that all existing residents would be allowed to remain in the home for as long as they choose. This has at least been a small victory for the current residents. However, the battle continues for Suffolk Court and to ensure that Leeds City Council do not close more care homes in our City and surrounding towns.

If you would like to get involved with any of these campaigns please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Stop the deposit rip-off!

unipol

Greg Mulholland MP is working with the NUS and Unipol to make sure students are not ripped-off.

I have spent many years talking to, and working with, people in rented accommodation that have been ripped-off by rouge landlords that withhold deposits from tenants. This practice affects those in private rented accommodation as well as student accommodation.

I have held numerous meetings with students, residents, Unipol and others in relation to the problems caused by rouge landlords. As a result I have raised motions in Parliament and asked questions of many different Ministers about what clear and positive action is being taken to stop people being ripped-off in this fashion. I have attached below links to the motions that I tabled should you wish to read them.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1557

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1558

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1652

In addition to this should you wish to find out more about this problems you can do so by visiting the links below for both Unipol and the National Union of Students.

National Union of Students

Unipol Leeds

Stop the Landbanking Scam

Land Banking is the process by which developers (or specialist Land Banking companies) purchase land in order to develop or resell it at a later date. This can often be done in an aggressive fashion to run down buildings or land in order to push Local Authorities into allowing development in areas where it might not otherwise be possible.

Developers have used this practice in several areas across Leeds North West in recent years and it has generally led to development and dereliction of sites, against the wishes of the local community. Recent examples would include the Cookridge Pastures site which was split up and then attempted to sell off in smaller plots. Thankfully via a lot of work alongside the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, we were able to stop this process.

Another would be the fate of the Summer Cross Pub in Otley. This was a viable community pub that was closed and sold to a development company called Westwood Care. Their stated intention was to build a care home on the site. However, they have carried out virtually no work on site in the 7 years that they have owned it. This may be because the building is in a conservation area and they are unable to make structural changes to the property. However, if they leave the building long enough it may just fall down and allow them to completely remove what was a historic part of Otley.

The utter contempt that these companies show for local communities and the amenities that they destroy is appalling. I have been pushing for stronger powers to be made available to Local Authorities so that they can take clear and firm action against these companies. In 2009 I called for a special task force to tackle the problem of land banking and am continuing to raise the problems associate with this practice.

If you would like to read the motion that I tabled in relation to this practice and the demise of a Land Banking company called UK Land Investments you can do so via the link below.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1757

If you would like to know more about this problem and what is happening, please visit the Campaign to Protect Rural England website via the link below.

Campaign to Protect Rural England