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Council focuses on Hyde Park's problems
Hyde Park skyline
The Hyde Park skyline - the council aims to improve the area

For 40 years or so, Hyde Park has been seen as a mainly student area, much to the chagrin of other residents.

Now Leeds City Council is to heed the calls to tackle the problems blighting one of the most densely populated areas in the city.

Leeds City Council deploys more resources in the Hyde Park area than any other part of the city.

It tackles problems from litter and graffiti to anti-social behaviour and noisy late night parties.

In 2007, police with batons and dogs broke up a party in Hessle Street after locals complained about the noise and mess caused by approximately 300 partygoers.

Police deal with partygoers in Hyde Park in 2007
Police deal with partygoers in Hyde Park in 2007

Recently a city councillor slammed a local company who were offering to "bring the nightclub" into student homes, by delivering sound and light equipment. Councillor James Monaghan (Lib Dem, Headingley) branded the service "utterly irresponsible."

The company in question offers to deliver speakers, subwoofers, floodlights, smoke machines and laser systems. Packages such as 'the House Party,' 'the Mash Up' and 'the Ibiza Rave' are aimed specifically at students.

Councillor Monaghan fears this latest move together with 24 hour alcohol delivery services already targeting young people in the area, will only heighten problems with late night noise and disturbance.

Permanent residents have sent an impassioned plea to the council not to ignore the 'hidden deprivation' in their neighbourhood, and in response the council is to create a programme of intensive work that aims to blitz 'crime and grime' in Hyde Park while a longer term plan for the area is developed.

A new Neighbourhood Board will be created to develop and deliver the plan. Chaired by Councillor Peter Gruen, the council's executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing, it will involve local councillors, residents, students and managers from across the council and other public services.

Graffiti in Hyde Park
Graffiti is one of the area's problems

A senior council officer will become responsible for bringing the different services together and achieving the improvements laid out in the plan. The board will work closely with the city's universities and students groups.

Short-term solutions will include improve security awareness, out-of-hours dog warden patrols, and carry out an annual summer 'deep clean' to clear bin yards, take bins off streets, clear back alleys, remove graffiti, spray weeds and tidy green spaces.

In the long-term, the council will investigate ways of charging landlords for waste collection during the annual 'change-over' period, when thousands of students leave the area and streets are often clogged with dumped rubbish, and look at changing the landlord accreditation scheme and statutory licensing to improve standards of security for student homes.

Councillor Gruen, who will be writing to all local community groups informing them of the project, said:

"Hyde Park is a unique neighbourhood, but with that comes unique problems. While it is known as an area popular with students, there is still a large and vibrant population of permanent residents.

"We want to harness the enthusiasm all residents, permanent and temporary, have for living in Hyde Park and get people to work together to improve Leeds' most densely populated neighbourhood."

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05 May 07 |  West Yorkshire


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