Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 19:00 UK

Northern Ballet Theatre home becomes election row

The Leeds home of the Northern Ballet Theatre has found itself at the centre of a political row.

The Labour candidate for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves, has begun a campaign to protect the West Park Centre which she says is under threat from developers.

The site's suitability for housing is being considered by the council.

However, the Conservatives have called the Ms Reeve's claims "scaremongering" and the Liberal Democrats said she was "electioneering".

The centre is being used by the Northern Ballet while a new building in Leeds city centre is under construction, and is on Leeds City Council's strategic housing land availability assessment (SHLAA) list.

'Short-sighted'

Ms Reeves said: "It is disappointing that their [Northern Ballet's] departure may spell the end for a valuable resource in the community.

"I am already working hard to make sure that doesn't happen, as I think it would be very short-sighted indeed.

"That's why I've been helping collect signatures for a petition to keep the centre open."

Julia Mulligan, Conservative candidate for nearby Leeds North West, said: "There are absolutely no plans to sell the West Park Centre for housing.

"This is pure scaremongering by the Labour party during an election campaign.

"I recently met with Councillor Andrew Carter and have a cast iron guarantee that community facilities will remain at the West Park Centre.

"It is absolutely vital for the local area - indeed I held a public meeting with local residents at the centre only last night to demonstrate my support for it."

Ruth Coleman, Liberal Democrat candidate for Leeds West said: "This is pure electioneering. The Labour Government asked Leeds City Council to prepare a list of assets.

"The Liberal/Conservative run council has no plans to dispose of West Park Centre."

The candidates standing for Leeds West are:

Joanna Beverley, British National Party; David Blackburn, Green; Ruth Coleman, Liberal Democrat; Joe Marjoram, Conservative; Jeff Miles, UK Independence Party; Rachel Reeves, Labour.

The candidates standing for Leeds North West are:

Trevor Bavage, Alliance for Green Socialism; Judith Blake, Labour; Geoffrey Bulmer, British National Party; Martin Hemingway, Green; Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat; Julia Mulligan, Conservative; Alan Procter, English Democrats; Mark Thackray, UK Independence Party.



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