Last Friday, I attended a wonderful event in the Civic Centre council chamber organised by the Leeds learning Disability Forum. It was part of Learning Disability Week and it gave many of the disabled people attending the chance to express their opinions on benefits, health, jobs and transport. It was really impressive and it was good to see representatives there from the NHS and First Bus who were willing to listen and respond.
After that, it was on to the United Debt Forum, bringing together organisations from across the city who offer help and advice on debt problems. Life is really tough for some people affected by benefit changes, the bedroom tax and changes to council tax benefit, and it is not uncommon for payday loans to be rolled over. The growing use of food banks in Leeds also shows how little money some families have. The Leeds Credit Union is an important part of the answer – we just need to publicise its work better. And the Ebor Gardens Advice Centre Money Buddies scheme – offering one to one money advice – is a great idea.
On Friday evening I held another of my Big Conversation Events at the Woodhouse Community Centre. We had a lively discussion about transport, noise nuisance, traffic speeds, landlords and the future of the Royal Park school site and the playing fields in Victoria Road. I will be circulating a note to everyone who came, and special thanks to Judy, Olivia and Amelia for organising it.
The clouds parted and blue sky began to appear just in time on Saturday for the start of the Beeston Festival. Lots of people came along and everyone had a great afternoon, with stalls, sports, food and much else besides. Thanks to everyone on the committee for once again putting on such a terrific event.
Last week I met Ikram Butt, the former rugby league player and community campaigner, at the House of Commons to give my support to the white ribbon campaign against domestic violence during the World Cup – sadly the number of incidents goes up during football tournaments.
And finally, just under three weeks to go to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Leeds city centre. It is going to be spectacular.