Lib Dems call for safer streets and public spaces

20 Feb 2023

Leeds Liberal Democrats want to shine a light on the issue of safety on the city’s streets and parks. They have submitted amendments to the ruling Labour Group’s budget, to reverse recent moves they consider dangerous, and to invest in the city’s parks to make them feel safer, particularly for women and girls.


Cllr Stewart Golton, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Leeds City Council said:

“This is a city that people should feel confident to walk the streets both day and night. Cities in particular operate 24/7, and our work, family and social lives often mean venturing out after dark. Street lighting is a key necessity to give us the confidence to get about at night, especially if the council wants us to leave our cars at home.”


Leeds Liberal Democrats are hoping to stop the ruling Labour administration from making our streets darker to save money.

“My party opposed the Council several years ago when it turned off hundreds of street lights  to save money on its energy bills. We told them to install LED bulbs instead. They said no at the time, then installed them several years later. Now they are wanting to ‘dim’ every street lamp across the city to save money. They say we won’t even notice, and they have no alternative. Leeds Liberal Democrats say we can’t take the risk. We can’t gamble with the wellbeing of our residents, and their confidence to carry on with their lives after dark without fear of what lurks in the shadows. Our amendment shows the Labour leadership where they get the money to leave our street lamps shining brightly.”


Leeds Liberal Democrats were disappointed that none of the Levelling Up bids Leeds City Council proposed to the Government were accepted. However, the Council had set aside money that was destined to be used alongside any government money spent on such bids. Leeds Liberal Democrats are proposing to use some of that money to ‘Level up’ usage of our parks.


“A study was recently carried out to gather the views of women and girls about their attitudes to using their local parks. Not surprisingly, more women than men felt less confident of their security using local parks, particularly after dark. Leeds Liberal Democrats are proposing using £half a million of the Levelling Up money available to start to make improvements to our parks that will ‘level up’ accessibility so that everyone can feel equally confident to relax or exercise in their local greenspace, day or night. We appreciate that this will not be resolved solely by improving the lighting, or landscaping, but responding to what women and girls in our communities want can only improve the situation, for everyone – four out of five women feel less confident in our parks after dark, but so too do two out five men.”


Leeds Liberal Democrats believe decent lighting is one of the basic investments we should not compromise to safeguard public safety, but the principle of providing a sufficient level of crime enforcement on our streets is just as important a principle to safeguard.


“The Labour Party tell us they are committed to recruiting more police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) nationally, but our experience locally under a Labour Mayor in charge of policing, and a Labour-run Council is that both have conspired to reduce the staffing in neighbourhood policing teams, and have cut the number of PCSOs to their lowest level in 8 years. Meanwhile the level of neighbourhood crime has increased 20%, and two fifths of offences go uninvestigated.”


Leeds Liberal Democrats have submitted an amendment to the Labour administration’s budget to show how 47 PCSOs, jointly funded by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police, could be reinstated and paid for in future years by extra council tax income by charging a premium on second homes in the city.


“Keeping our streets safe is everyone’s responsibility, and when Liberal Democrats were in charge of Leeds we committed to jointly funding PCSOs to be the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood policing teams within our communities. The Labour Group reneged on continuing that funding some years back now, and it is a commitment from the Liberal Democrat Group that we will continue to submit an amendment to show how we should be investing in our PCSOs in the city until that investment is re-instated.”

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