Council chiefs have today launched two public consultations – one into the future of Pudsey Park’s visitor centre, the other into halving the number of local authority bowling greens in Leeds.
Cash-strapped Leeds City Council plans to axe the West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre in its current form and replace it with a cafe. Proposals also include the demolition of 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 in size and the original site would be used for a new garden and grassed area.
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 more than 2,100 names in less than a week.
The consultation document says:
“If the visitor centre is closed, there are two options for the buildings: they could be demolished and the area returned to parkland, or, subject to a suitable business case, a café could be developed.”
Proposals for a café with a terrace to replace the visitor centre include:
- Consideration could also be given to upgrading and moving the children’s play area to the current location of the display house, so that parents and carers can enjoy refreshments from the café whilst keeping an eye on their children. The existing playground could be re-landscaped and incorporated into the park.
- Retain elements of the West Leeds Country Park visitor centre such as the interpretation panels describing the wildlife of west Leeds; and, in the spirit of the West Leeds Country Park, create new wildlife habitats in the park (e.g. an orchard, a meadow, nest-boxes).
- Provide accessible public toilets during café opening hours.
Cllr Simon Seary (Cons, Pudsey) added:
“We will be planning to hold a few public drop in sessions at Pudsey Park for any visitors not aware of the consultation. We need to keep the visitors section, glasshouse and we don’t want to move the play park. we need your help.”
Have your say on the proposals online via https://surveys.leeds.gov.uk/s/FXQFS6/. The consultation closes on 14 December.
If you require paper copies of the consultation you can e-mail email@example.com using the subject title ‘Pudsey park consultation’ or ring on 0113 3786002. Send completed forms to Pudsey Park Consultation, Parks and Countryside, Farnley Hall, Hall Lane, Leeds LS12 5HA.
Bowling green consultation
Leeds City Council is consulting on closing half of the city’s council-maintained bowling greens.
A consultation document states that one of the proposals to help plug the authority’s projected £118m budget gap for next year is to close 50 percent of all public greens maintained by the council in order to save around £83,000 a year.
The council wants to reduce the number of bowling greens managed and maintained by them from 62 to 31.
The consultation document states this could be achieved in a number of different ways or by combining different approaches, including individual clubs taking over and being responsible for green and building maintenance via an asset transfer.
In West Leeds, greens can be found in Armley Park, Bramley Park, Stanningley Park, Calverley Victoria Park, Farsley Westroyd Park, New Farnley Park, New Wortley Recreation Ground, Western Flatts Park in Wortley, Burley Park, Pudsey Park and Tyersal Park.
The consultation over bowling clubs can be found here.
Last month, a scrutiny board meeting heard Leeds City Council believes it will face a £118m funding black hole – partly due to the effects of Covid-19 on its services.
Senior officers added that this could also mean up to 600 job losses and added around 1,000 council employees had expressed an interest in a “voluntary early leavers policy”.
The meeting was told by council’s chief financial officer Victoria Bradshaw that the council was expecting extra money, known as a “provisional settlement” from Government later this year, although it was unclear what this would be. She added:
“Within the £119m, there is an inherent budget gap of £60m. But on top of that, due to Covid, we incurred an extra £60m, due to loss of income through our council tax, fees, rates and charges; but also through expenditure.
“This is an unprecedented level we are looking at for 2021/22. We worked in the summer to start to identify savings.”
The council’s director of resources and housing Neil Evans said the council would have to look at selling some of its sites, known as “asset disposal” in order to make ends meet. He said:
“We are very early in bringing forward savings – I don’t think we have ever been quite as early as this. There will be more to come in the meetings in November and December.
“We are of the view that we need to find about £80m of recurrent savings for 2021/22, then we will be looking at using one-offs to bridge between £80m and £119m. It includes things like asset disposal.”
Labour politicians also point to reduced funding from Government over the past ten years for some of the financial crisis.