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Rachel Reeves MP: Bramley benches campaign, Kirkstall Valley Farm and Kirkstall Forge graduation

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves writes her monthly column

Campaign for Bramley Shopping Centre seats

It is unacceptable that the new owners of Bramley Shopping Centre have removed all of the benches, which so many shoppers, including older and disabled people, rely upon each time they visit.

I am working with Bramley councillors to press for the benches to be reinstated, and I am hopeful that we can work together to find a solution.

I am also pleased to see the community joining together to show the strength of their feelings by holding a sit-in protest each week.

Head teacher round table

Rachel Reeves with Jo Smithson, head teacher of Greenhill Primary, and two therapy dogs.

A positive thing to have come out of the national lockdown has been the emergence of time saving technologies such as Zoom.

This has meant that my previously annual head teacher meetings are now able to happen much more frequently – I now meet “virtually” with heads half termly.

It’s still lovely to run into them when I am out and about though, as I did recently with Jo Smithson, head teacher of Greenhill Primary.

The added bonus was that she was walking the school “therapy dogs.”

A great idea, especially after a year such as this one! School staff, pupils and families have had a tough year – exam and assessment uncertainty, late issuing of government guidance, bubble collapses!

As the academic year draws to a close, I’d like to pay special thanks to the brilliant staff in Leeds West schools. We owe them, and so many others, a debt of thanks.

Forging Futures Graduation

Graduation: At the Forging Future graduation ceremony at Kirkstall Forge.

I was pleased to meet the Forging Future Graduates and to present the certificates at their recent graduation ceremony. The scheme, based at Kirkstall Forge, helps train up future architects, plumbers, bricklayers and more by offering work experience and apprenticeships.

I always find it inspiring to meet those on the scheme, many of whom have never had the chance to enjoy such a great opportunity that could pave the way for an exciting career. It was also great to hand out their certificates with council leader James Lewis, and also play a bit of Swingball with the graduates!

Kirkstall Valley Farm

Tranquil oasis: Community led Kirkstall Valley farm is off the A65 Kirkstall Road.

I have been trying to visit Kirkstall Valley Farm for several months – but Covid guidelines have meant I have had to cancel several times.

But it was well worth the wait! In glorious sunshine I met some of the farm trustees and volunteers and finally managed a tour of the site.

The farm is just off Kirkstall Road and can be accessed from the side of Ready Steady Store.

It was privately farmed for many years until the leaseholder died in 2017 – Kirkstall Valley Development Trust have now leased the farm and are developing a community supported agriculture scheme that employs a worker and sells veg boxes to local residents and shops to cover costs.

They even have a part time blacksmith on site! A really impressive organisation who have done so much in such a short time- I can’t wait to go back!

Northern Bloc Small Business Network

It was lovely to visit Northern Bloc earlier this month. We discussed the impact Brexit has had on their supply chains, but also how we can restart the Small Business Network as society opens up.

The Small Business Network is a great network which offers support for all small businesses in Leeds West, along with chances to meet with other small businesses to discuss your concerns and experiences.

If you are interested in joining, please do send me an email at Thanks also to Dirk and team for the lovely ice cream – which was much needed during the heatwave!

Leeds West Local Heroes

This month I have also relaunched my Local Heroes competition.

It is a great way to hear about all of the amazing work local people have been doing in Leeds West over the year, and I look forward to it every year.

The winner this week is Carol’s Confectioners from Bramley for all of their hard work over lockdown and for supporting families in need over school holidays by ensuring children can be fed.

If you would like to nominate anyone, please email


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