It's a good time to be in the middle of difficult times: good that the Council [Leeds City Council] has kept the faith with Hyde Park and Woodhouse. City of Leeds School still stands on the hill at the back of the Hyde Park Pub, and now the Royal Park School building has been given back to the community.
Here we live and work in such a diverse community. Enter the students who can't afford the luxury, internet-studded high rises; enter the poor immigrants from Mirapur; enter the ex-students who didn't want to break away after that degree or that PGCE or that Masters. Here still the Irish and the English, the Polish and the West Indian. Here the Methodist church, a couple of other Protestant ones, the Sikh temple and the big new Mosque where Thornville meets Royal Park Road.
Here is Woodhouse Moor that newcomers call Hyde Park; that for some reason the new sign calls Woodhouse Moor Park. That got painted red along with Wellington's boots. [Wellington stands at the corner opposite the University Business School which used to be Leeds Grammar School.]
Here is my allotment, over the road and down a bit from my house, the allotment where I grow the apples from the apple trees that I grew from pips and carried in pots to Leeds from Liverpool via Blackburn when I came here for my post-grad teaching certificate [PGCE]. Every other year I get threatened with eviction from this allotment sanctuary of mine. This usually coincides with fighting Education Leeds over some school closure or other. And then it involves press-ganging my sons and sons-out-law into the big allotment tidy-up, and I say, help me before it becomes a crisis, and the apples are all yours. I'd like to spend longer over there, but my need to grow parsnips is never greater than a local child's right to a decent local education. And if there's a letter or a blog to write, a meeting to attend or a placard to wave, then it's goodbye parsnips; hello letters, blogs, meetings [good places to exchange information, ideas and views] and placards.
Fifteen years this area was at war with itself. I stood at the top of the road and watched the Newlands go up in flames; as high again as the pub had once been, while the druggies took on the police and trashed our homeland as they did. And so Unity Day was born, and all us diverse population got together for the concerts; the dog show; the bingo tent and the rest of it. And, of course I've been tapping out those steelpans, come rain or shine for a decade and more now on stages and patches of grass all around the Moor.
So it's a good time and a it's hard time. Education Leeds took their defeat over City of Leeds School badly, and sulked. A fine comb of an Ofsted concluded there was nothing wrong with the school and nothing to close it for. The Inspection observed excellent Maths lessons and meticulous paperwork [see the Ofsted report for the rest] but Education Leeds really resented having to admit they were wrong, and haven't yet got round to publicising their initial mistake. So what the difference between children and some adults? Not a lot, it seems, in some corporate cases.
So thank you, Leeds Council, for truly representing the desires and views of this little inner-city community. Now let's tell the World that City of Leeds School and the Royal Park Centre are open again for business. And maybe I can get back to my apples and my parsnips.