Monday, 11 May 2009

Letter to the YEP the sequel....

. Below is my latest letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post...

Dear Sirs,

Alan Slomson (Letters, May 11) asks if I would allow special car parking spaces to facilitate theft and the answer is of course I wouldn’t but you cannot conflate the unlawful theft of private property with a discussion about how common property is used.

Alan raises legitimate concerns but I have to say once again that this is the reason the special area is being proposed; to limit the damage that is done and make sure the Moor is preserved; residents concerns are addressed and people’s freedoms are not unnecessarily restricted.

Alan mentions the current by-laws which prevent barbecues on the Moor and says ‘if only they were enforced’ but makes no proposals about funding the enforcing of these laws nor there impracticability nor the fact that they restrict the legitimate freedoms of people who have no facility to have a barbecue elsewhere. Smoke travels; should we outlaw them in back gardens too because of the damaging effects of smoke travelling?

This debate is all about striking the proper balance between rights and freedoms and responsibilities; it is my belief that the proposals put forward do that and that is why I support them.

Yours Sincerely,

Darrell Goodliffe

Hyde Park, Leeds


David Morton said...

First Law of Leeds 6 politics : Don't touch Green space. The sheer population density means that people have a sulphuric response to any loss. This proposal concretes over 21 square metres of UDP protected greenspace. thats before the cider pits. All on what is widely agreed to be the nicest part of the moor right next to the childrens play ground and very close to Kennsington Court.

This proposal is as popular as Small Pox with permanent residents.

Darrell G said...


So, of course, it is obviously much better to just leave this problem unmanaged and have them spread out across the Moor then? You see this is the problem with this debate; any workable solution has to be based upon *compromise* which is something that opponents of the proposals have made it quite clear they are unwilling to do.

Were they, for example, to suggest an alternative area for this site then that might lead to a actual solution. But it is quite obvious that certain groups have no interest in compromise or dealing with fundemental realities in this debate; it's their way or bust and this is the problem.

Solving it through an unpracticable and frankly dubious, from a liberal point of view, enforcement of by-laws isnt a solution at all.

David Morton said...


Thats a very poor response that would have you chucked out of the first round of a 6th form debating society

1. Non Sequetar. How does it follow that because I oppose this scheme that "it is obviously much better to just leave this problem unmanaged " etc ? You are polarising the debate between your solution and doing nothing which frankly isn't good enough as an arguement because there are multiple alternatives.

2. Ad Hominem abuse. Who are the "certain groups" you refer to to ? will you be presenting any evidence of your claim that they are unwilling to "compromise"?

3. Argument from Assertion. You say that any solution has to be based on compromise. Are there any other forms of ASB that you would base public policy on this approach ? Noise Nusance ? bad Landlords ? Toxic dumping?

There are of course perfectly sound arguments for and against this scheme. however the fact that "compromise" is automatically good is a rather odd one. Oh and I notice you use "Fundamental Realities" again as phrase when i think you mean "in my opinion".

4. Finally in my experience blatant hypocracy always leaves you exposed to attack. So is it wise to criticise your opponets in this debate for failure to suggest alternatives. After all it is the council that have (a) drawn up a highly detailed proposal in isolation from everyone (b) spent £10000 which could have gone on enforcemnt that you say we can't afford on a consultation where you can only vote "Yes" or "No". It was the council that reduced this complex debate to a simple but false binary choice. Physican heal thyself ?



Darrell G said...


Lol well I think the childishness was started by the 'Friends of Woodhouse Moor' who used their blog to invent frankly fantastical conspiracy theories. If patronising your opponent is the only method of debate you have left then what does that say about the strength of your argument?

Well it follows because you dont exactly put forward any of these alternative solutions do you? And the only alternative solution I have seen is the total prohibition of barbecues which actually doesnt work and is thus even less practicable than a scheme to actually manage them.

I have just named one of the certain groups. In talking about 'compromise' I was merely trying to reach across to the legitmate concerns that have been raised so I really dont see what your point was there.

I'm not a councillor so dont have to answer for anything the council does btw so why that even got mentioned is beyond me....

David Morton said...

Dear Darrell,

before I move the debate on just one last piece of advice if you ever do go in for that 6th form debating society competition. As a defender of the status quo ( 21 sq metres of UDP protected green space being un concreted) I am under no obligation whatsoever to come up with an alternative solution. The council is putting it forward and the burden of proof is on them. One of the realy shabby elements of this proces has been the way they have takne their prosal as the normative and forced residents to argue against it. You are doing the same.

However to move onto your call for compromise. If the council wants "compromise" then why has it

1. Taken the IMHO extraordinary decision not to apply for planning permission ? A forum where many of these issues could have ben teased ot in a discursive manner.

2. Only offered to sit and down and talk to residents groups after mass protests at the Area Commitee Meeting on 2 April, then taken weeks to arrange a date on 14th May and then cancel that meeting at only 48 hours notice ?

3. Why are the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Councillors systamtically refusing to acknowledge or answer residents emails on the subject including detailed questions about how it might operate. this is not a charge I make in public lightly but as we are now in month 3 of this fiasco it time to confront some uncomfortable truths.

The fact is from a presentational point of view this has probably ben the most confrontational handling of a public matter I have ever seen from Leeds City Council. hat is why it has caused the level of upset that it has.

Darrell G said...


Errrr yes you kind of are because you said there were soooo many and now you are saying there exist but you are not willing to talk about them. I will let people reading this draw there own conclusions about that ;. Obviously your primary debating tools are condescension and such forth but when asked for concrete answers to questions you are less forthcoming.

Again, not a councillor, so not forced to defend their position but since you put it on the table I might as well.

1. Correct me if I am wrong but since this is in the *consultation* stage and not something that is definately happening why should planning permission be applied for this stage?

2&3 Are more serious and less defensible in my eyes but since I have already mentioned I am not a councillor are not points I feel I have to take personal responsibility for.

David Morton said...

Dear Darrell,

1. You are side steping the point and in a fairly poor way. The Council has stated that it will impliment the scheme *without* planning permision.Given the issues around design, scale, permanance, noise, enviromental impact, UDP protected grenspace status and change of use that seems pretty extraordinary to me. It's over a month since i sked councillors to publish the oficer guidance that says they don't ned planing permision. I'm still waiting. However the killer point is this. In any planning case the council would be judge and jury in its own case. its the applicant and the planning authority. However this would be heard in public, by a panel and they would sit in a quasi judical capacity. The syem has real legal hecks and balances.

Adopting the tradition of "casears wife" the council should if there is any doubt apply for planning permision when developing its own land. In this case I actually think there isn't much doubt that planning permission should be applied for.

So who took the decsion to press ahead without it ? and where, when , how and n what basis ?

It may *only* be a £20k scheme in a public park bu you don't have to be a Philadelphia Lawyer to find this a deeply disturbing.

2. Its only a "consultation" at all because some of us fought for it. At the first public drop in a senior council officer rudely intterupted people calling it a "consultation" and corrected them saying it was an "infomation excercise". The destinction was made because we were beng told about somethin the council ntended to do. hankfully this position only last for one session after being robustly challenged but is it any wonder people are so upset.

In conclusion I rather form the impression that you can hand it out but not take it. You have written a letter to the local people calling opponents of this scheme "blinkered". I wonder if you are aware of much of the back ground of what has gone on.



Darrell G said...


And you continue to sidestep my simple point/question about alternative proposals so, I guess we are even on that score.

You continue to ignore the simple fact that I am *not* a councillor. How many times do I have to say it so while I am aware of the background I am not privy to the inner justification nor do I feel particularly compelled to defend every dot and comma as my own personal responsibility.

You obviously have a reason for trying to draw things back onto the council constantly but how about we stick to debating the actual issues hey ;)



David Morton said...

Dear Darrell,

my alternative proposal to cutting 40 large holes in the moor and filling them with concrete is that we don't cut 40 large holes in the moor and fill them with concrete. We'll just have to agree to disagree about whether defenders of the status quo have to have alternatives.

However let me concede one point. You are of course perfectly entitled to support the scheme without being responsible for the councils handling of it.

However as you have written on this blog and in the newspaper that you consider opponents "blinkered" I think its resonable as one of those "blinkered" people to point out the much wider context of how this isue has been handled.

So can I now turn to funding of enforcement of the BBQ Bye Laws. You have made a failure to identify such funding a reason why you don't support enforcement. This does make me wonder, if i can be blunt, whether you undestand the proposal that you are publically supporting at all. let me xplain what is being proposed and the cynical campaigning trick the Council is tryin to pull off.

The current BBQ consultation is a YES/NO excercise. Yes being a BBQ area with BBQ's being banned in 80% of the park and all BBQing being forcibly concentrated into the 20% that will be the designated area.

If the consultation comes out as NO the BBQing will be banned acros the whole park.

So given that a massive enforcement excercise is involved in either of the Councils options why do I as an opponent need to tell the Council whee the money is commin from ? And in any case which will be more expensive ? A simple blanket enforcement of the bye laws as they stand ? or enforcement of them across 80% of the park and then a crowded,congested BBQ ghetto on the other 20% ?

Cynics might suggest that one of reasons local councillrs won't answer or acknowledge emails asking for the enforcement budget is because no such enforcement budget exists.

Basically the areas student population is being told that the council will ban all BBQ's if this plan fails ( thus encouraging a YES vote) and telling other esidents similtaniously that it can't possibly afford to enforce the ban.

there is a technical ter for tis sort of argument.

Its called hypocricy



Darrell G said...


Thank you for recognising that I am not a councillor and therefore not personally obliged to defend all their actions.

Now I was talking to a flatmate yesterday about this very issue and they are not a student and not a Lib Dem and not a student and they said, without prompting, exactly what I have been saying that you 'will never stop BBQ's on Woodhouse Moor' unless 'you have somebody there 24/7'. That is part of the status quo.

I am not privy to the inner workings of the council or indeed of our local councillors but when you say there is a possibility the enforcement budget doesnt exist and I think that is a possibility too hence the stance I have taken.

So, the question then does become in a serious dialogue what those people who want to see out and out and enforcement are going to do; what your proposals are to make this happen and that is why I have been so insistant on asking this question.

While agreeing that perhaps not everything has been done perfectly that still does play the ball in your court and part of actually establishing a serious *dialogue* over this is for those proposals to be put on the table.



Paul Hudson said...

Darrell, you seem not to understand that we care about the environment. Our by-laws are there to help that and while a change in the local population may put pressure on them, it does not mean they are wrong.

I Came to Leeds in 1975 and have seen green spaces of all sorts degraded, the Moor needs to be protected.

I do not think putting in a designated area would stop people using their BBQ's all over the place.

We have the by-laws, lets use them
Paul Hudson

David Morton said...

Second Law of Leeds 6 politics: You pay due respect to the gapping psychic wound at the heart of the community, the relationship between permanent residents and the huge numbers of people passing through.

The handling of this issue hasn't so much rubbed salt in that wound as poured battery acid into it. The appalling publicity posters and biased "referendum" question aimed at a student yes vote were bad enough. However council minutes just release confirm what we already knew but couldn't prove. Leeds University Union reps knew about this for over a year and have been invited to the planning meetings while all other residents groups have not been. This looks really awful when seen in the context of the publicity campaign that was run. Its sectionalist and divisive. Playing one part of the community off against another.

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