The owner of a Farsley cake business has put forward ambitious proposals which could save a visitor centre in Pudsey Park which is threatened with closure.
Steven Newbatt owns the Candied Peel Cake Company in Farsley Town Street – and wants to set up a cafe at the side of the West Leeds Visitor Centre, which is the subject of council budget cuts.
Proposals for the park include demolishing the existing visitor centre and replacing it with a modular cafe in a bid to save £90,000. Additional proposals include reducing the size of the popular play park by two thirds by relocating it to the current glass house site.
Mr Newbatt said his proposals would help keep the centre open by adding a cafe to the centre – meaning the the playground, glasshouse and visitor centre could remain where they are. Speaking to WLD, Mr Newbatt said:
“The visitor centre and glasshouse should remain open and receive private investment to ensure the efficient running of the attraction, which is an asset to Pudsey and the surrounding areas.
“The centre Has received poor marketing since iT opened 10 years’ ago, with many of its attractions becoming run down.
“Pudsey Park was previously the second most popular Park in Leeds, and with the appropriate non-council investment it can be again. We are a family business and believe in supporting family friendly attractions in our local area.”
Mr Newbatt said the centre provided a ‘valuable resource’ and added:
“We, as a local business, feel the need to stand up and be counted. The centre provides a valuable educational resource and attraction for our children, families and elderly alike, both from Pudsey and further afield.
“We believe the centre should remain open and the designated funding be used to build the greatly needed toilets close to the playground. We’d also like to bring back a replica of the Pudsey roller to be included in one of the exhibits at the centre.”
Candied Peel Co have discussed options with various potential sponsors to help maintain the centre greenhouse, which Mr Newbatt claims will reduce costs and ensure its viability.
Mr Newbatt, who has run Candied Peel Co since 2017, says he aims to tackle anti-social behaviour in an evening by providing facilities for teenagers at the visitor centre. He added:
“Alongside private investment, funding has been made available for youth activities and engagement. We aim to provide activities around nature, while providing a venue to meet your mates and have a laugh. Shakes and juke box provided. Let’s get them off the streets and into the centre, learn, enjoy and alleviate the issues in Pudsey. We understand this will be a long-term project but we are determined as a business.”
Mr Newbatt’s proposals have the support of Pudsey’s councillors, who are opposed to the council’s plans for the park. Councillor Simon Seary (Cons, Pudsey) said:
“If private investment means we can keep the majority of the animal section and use the existing buildings it’s sounds like an opportunity we need to explore. It removes the cost to the council and the possibilities are endless for the building and Pudsey.”
The proposals have led to local concern from residents and Pudsey councillors since they were first reported and a petition opposing the changes by Dawn Seary has so far attracted almost 2,400 names after being launched last week.
Leeds City Council is consulting on the proposals.
Have your say online via https://surveys.leeds.gov.uk/s/FXQFS6/. The consultation closes on 14 December.
Cuts start to bite due to Covid-19
WLD reported yesterday that the equivalent of more than 800 full-time Leeds City Council jobs could be lost under budget proposals by Leeds City Council, as well as selling off some council-owned buildings and closing some community facilities.
According to the report, £59.7m of the total shortfall was due to pressures prior to the impact of coronavirus, with another £59.1m resulting from the impact of Covid-19.
The council, which has a budget of £525.7m for 2020/21, said the reduction in its workforce by 199.4 posts meant the overall loss of 816 full-time posts.
The leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, said local authorities needed additional support from central government during the coronavirus crisis. She said:
“The impact of coronavirus, combined with national reductions to local government budgets over the last decade, has been of a scale nobody could have predicted.
“We will make every effort to protect frontline services and we will do everything possible to not make compulsory redundancies.
“However, some incredibly tough decisions now need to be taken because of the impact of the pandemic following a decade of austerity.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said in a statement:
“We’re giving councils unprecedented support during the pandemic to tackle the pressures they have told us they’re facing.
“Leeds City Council has received over £72m in non-ring fenced emergency funding. Additionally, their core spending power increased by over £35 million in 2020/21 even before emergency funding was announced.”