Children write to Boris Johnson to save ‘Wortley’s Wembley’

15 May 2020

Youngsters are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to save a former sports ground known locally as ‘Wortley’s Wembley’.

The children say the TV Harrison ground, off Oldfield Lane, should be saved for local youngsters, despite it being left unused and overgrown for much of the past 14 years.

Leeds City Council two years ago earmarked the site for up to 50 local authority houses as part of its Site Allocations Plan.

Campaigners last month presented a 4,200-name petition to the council to preserve the area and restore it to regular sporting use.

The TV Harrison Community Action Group are now sending letters written by youngsters to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They’re asking him to intervene before the land becomes housing.

Nine-year old Caleb wrote:

“I am writing to you today so you can stop out Leeds Council building houses on our very historic sports ground.

“I have been helping to clean the litter out of the brambles. We trained on there and played football – it was the best! All our local parks were flooded so we couldn’t go on there.

“We already have too many houses and cars.”

Caleb’s letter

11-year-old Joseph Rooney said the field was an important community resource. He wrote:

“Why can’t Leeds City Council see that taking away this field, which was given to the children of Wortley, is wrong?

“We need places like this now more than ever.”

Joseph’s letter.

Eight-year-old Sensaily Blake told the Prime Minister that he should stop people building on it and that he’d been helping his mum clear up the rubbish.

“We really don’t want to lose it,” he added.

And eight-year-old Liliana Lambert added:

“Did you know 25% of children are either overweight or obese? This sports ground promotes children’s health by tearing them away from ipads.

“Please don’t let them steal our sports ground.”

Liliana’s letter.

The field has been used for sport since at least 1850. It was bought by public subscription in 1928 and is held in trust by the Leeds Schools Sports Association to be used as a sports pitch.

In the past 12 months the field has been put back into use by local people and, until lockdown, was being used for informal community activities such as football matches, Saturday running, half-term activities for children and community gardening. 

Its illustrious past saw it play host to former Leeds United stars such as John Charles, Brian Deane and Paul Reaney.

A planning application for housing is expected to be submitted by the council, although campaigners have for the third time asked that the site should be listed as an asset of community value.

Leeds City Council say they’ve held consultations over the future of the land and that new local authority housing is desperately needed in the area. In a letter to the campaigners, council officers said the ‘silent voices’ of local people in urgent housing need were not represented in the petition.

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John A Mason says:

Unfortunately John Charles didn’t play there he played his school boy football in Wales