Leeds HMO Lobby


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When Leeds Met Headingley …
A response to Leeds Metropolitan University's
Community Engagement Paper

1 Leeds HMO Lobby is an association of all the local community associations in Inner NW Leeds, where (or near where) Leeds Metropolitan University is located. The Lobby was established in 2000 in order to address the impacts on our communities of the expansion of Leeds' two universities. The Lobby therefore welcomes Leeds Met's Community Engagement Paper, presented to Inner NW Area Committee on 22 October 2009. The Lobby and its members would have been pleased to have been contacted directly by the University. The Lobby has a number of comments on the Paper.

2 Leeds Metropolitan University: The Lobby acknowledges the economic impact of the University in Leeds, as described in para 1 of the paper. It is true that Leeds Met is an economic benefit to the city. But it is also true that it is an economic cost. The nature of the costs of universities to their local communities is outlined in the National HMO Lobby's paper, Accounting for Sustainability (2006).

3 Principles: the Lobby is interested in the four principles on which the Paper is based (para 2).
3.1 Respect: this is important, but it is not a given. Parties may enter into a relationship with the intention of giving respect. But as that relationship develops, respect must be earned - or lost. Regrettably, the actions of the University and the lack of dialogue (in recent years) have forfeited the local communities' initial respect (examples include the Great Student Run, the redevelopment of the Beckett's Park site, the development of a new campus at Headingley Stadium).
3.2 Reciprocity: this matters too. But it does not work easily where power relations are unequal. The local community is acutely aware that its resources are not equal to those of the University.
3.3 Renewal: the University's staff and students may well be refreshed by their experience of Headingley. Regrettably, the feeling is not mutual - our neighbourhood has deteriorated in numerous respects as a direct result of the University's presence.
3.4 Reflection: unfortunately, not much reflection on the part of the University is apparent in the Paper. There is no evidence of reflection on the impacts locally of the Great Student Run, the Beckett's Park site development or Headingley Stadium, for instance.

4 Good Neighbours: The Lobby acknowledges and welcomes the expertise and facilities offered to the local community, and it values the volunteering undertaken by its students (and staff) (paras 4-8). However, if the University's aim is to 'promote social cohesion' (para 3) then there is a long way to go. A recent report by Sheffield University identified Headingley as having the worst social cohesion in the whole country (the highest 'anomie index'). And the principal contributing factor is the dominance in our neighbourhood of the students of the city's universities. The paper alludes to 'stress on housing stock' (para 9), but quite fails to recognise the issue which is of over-riding concern to local residents, the demographic imbalance of Headingley - where a young, transient, seasonal population overwhelms residents. The Paper refers to campaigns (including community cohesion, para 6). Residents would be interested to know if the University supported their campaigns in recent national and local consultations on measures to restore cohesion (the HMO and Core Strategy consultations respectively).

5 Implementation: Para 11 affirms that 'our first step is to consult Leeds residents on the contents of this document.' Leeds HMO Lobby looks forward to the University taking this first step.

Leeds HMO Lobby, February 2010


Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds