Leeds City Council is set to launch a public consultation on Monday over plans to axe the West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre in its current form and replace it with a cafe.
WLD last month reported on plans involve demolishing the existing animal and fish section in Pudsey Park and replacing it with a modular cafe in a bid to save £90,000.
But the full scope of the plans have this week emerged via social media – including additional proposals to demolish the glass house housing exotic plants next door and moving the popular play park to the former glass house site.
The play park would be reduced by two thirds size and the original site be used for a new garden and grassed area, according to Councillor Simon Seary (Cons, Pudsey), who attended a Zoom meeting with council officers and fellow councillor Trish Smith.
“Listening to their proposal they clearly haven’t visited Pudsey and do not understand what we require as residents.
“Their proposal is to spend £300,000 of section 106 money contributed by developers in Pudsey for improvements in green-spaces. Additional borrowing would be required for this to go ahead, which is totally unacceptable.
“In Pudsey we recognise that public toilets are the number one priority and they need to be near the centre of the town for shoppers, residents, market stall holders and bus drivers.
“Since elected I have continually campaigned for toilets at the front of the park, the only reason for a cafe was to ensure the public toilets would be maintained.
“The consultation is planned to start next Monday and we will be sharing our views and comments and asking for residents to take part.
“we need to make sure our voices are heard.”
Some Pudsey residents have also reacted with dismay, with more than 200 comments posted on the Pudsey Born and Bred Facebook group.
One resident posted on Facebook:
“One of the whole reasons I love Pudsey is because of the park and what comes with it. The animal centre brings so much attraction, has an education room that has done so many lovely activities for children through holidays. We have so many different cafes in Pudsey and nothing about the park needs changing about from appropriate toilet facilities.”
Another added their support for the glasshouse:
“It’s really quite lovely in the glasshouse, I’m sure footfall could be increased if you put the cafe onto the side perhaps, so people were more aware of it. I think it would be a shame to lose it and those amazing plants.”
The changes follow news that the council was facing a £119m budget shortfall for 2021/22, thanks partly to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on council services and revenue collection.
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake (Lab) has warned there would have to be further cuts to council services if Government did not provide a financial bailout in the coming months.
A report discussed at last month’s decision-making executive board outlines an “overall anticipated reduction in the workforce for 2021/22 of 617 posts”. The council said it would “make every effort to avoid any compulsory redundancies being made.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“Due to the continued and severe financial pressures that Leeds City Council continues to face, a number of proposals have been put forward to reduce the deficit in the 2021-2022 budget.
“This includes a proposal to close the West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre in Pudsey Park and potentially open a new café’ on the site.
“A public consultation on the proposal will open next week, and all comments received will be fully considered before any final decisions are made.”
The popular centre in Pudsey Park keeps captive indigenous species ranging from birds, mammals and fish and explains the different habitats in the park and how they benefit wildlife.
It also offers guided tours and workshops for school or educational groups.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people have also signed a petition to save Richmond House care home in Farsley from closure.
Meanwhile, I note from another Leeds newsletter that a £55000 sculpture and play area equipment has just been delivered to Roundhay Park.
Council recently spent 15 million on bus stops in the city centre. They want to borrow hundreds of thousands in order to save 90k. Where do they find these idiots
Don’t get me started on cycle lanes and fibre broadband…
I agree. There are enough cafes ( assuming they have not all gone bust, due to the lockdown). There were toilets many years ago, but they were not maintained/cleaned that well. I do think the shoppers, bus drivers and parents/kids in the park need public toilets. Yes they will cost money, but probably not as much as relocating play area’s and building another café. Is the plan to have an independent cafe owner paying a rent and rates which they may struggle to fund, or will it be run my the council? The toilets that i see in coastal towns seem to be cleaner and more robust, with everything stainless steel inside, complete with the hand washing facities. Paying to get in through a sturdy metal door would also be advised. They then just need clears and maintenance/daily emptying of the coins.
Put a cafe where the old shop is re opposite the play groind area. They will get better foot fall and increased income. Also improve the play park itself. Very poor condition, again this will encourage more to come to the park. The revenue from a new cafe should be used to help cover costs of the animal / fish / plant housing.
If the Council used their brains (??) perhaps they’d come to the conclusion that money wasted on anti-motorist white elephant plans like cycle lanes and bus lanes to save 4 mins on a journey to Leeds might be better spent on continuing to serve the people of Pudsey by maintaining what we have now and NOT trying to “improve” what is perfectly adequate. Provide toilets by all means but we don’t need ANOTHER cafe – and £ 90,000 in the scheme of things is hardly a fortune, less than the salaries of some of the pen pushers in the Civic Hall…
What is wrong with L.C.C. Pudsey is a wonderful place and should be celebrated. Money should be invested in the playground and the animal area and bring people back into town. Then maybe the market will start to make a come back and new shops will open. L.C.C need to look at the money that’s been given to other areas around Leeds and hold there hand up and say that for years Pudsey has been over looked. Go to Morley, Farsley where money has been spent. A shortfall of £119 million!!! £90,000 is a drop in the ocean. INVEST L.C.C.
Put the toilets where the old cafe is, opposite the playground, sort out what used to be a really good market, get rid of the eye sore Bus station which is causing numerous vandalism/drug problems, or lock it at night, make more car parking, and not free all day, as it is behind the baths, do first half hr free, then chargeable at so much an hour, we don’t need another cafe in Pudsey, there are already enough to suit all tastes, earn money from the Town Hall, stood rotting for years, listen to the residents who care about Pudsey, more patrolling Police, small road sweepers for our streets, they seem to have disappeared from Pudsey completely, I could go on and on!!!!