This evening, a demonstration is planned in Beckett Park to support the installation of streetlights.
The park adjoins Leeds Beckett University’s Headingley campus and has been the subject of campaigns over the years to light it up in fears over student safety. Kelly-Anne Watson, vice-president of welfare and security at Leeds Beckett, has been putting pressure on the university and Leeds City Council to secure funding.
A recent petition on change.org to support the campaign has gathered over 3,500 signatures and was presented to the council on 23 March.
Leeds Beckett students have to walk through the park to get to the Pavilion and Stand campuses in Headingley, or to get home from the main Headingley campus.
Kelly-Anne Watson has said that the police have confirmed two incidents in the past three weeks and claims to know of many more incidents, whether they be muggings or reports of being followed. She said that many of the incidents took place in the evening, after students have been to the library, university or sports training and that they do not seem to be gender targeted.
Attempts to lobby the university for funding have been slow but were recently met with success. The student union recognised in minutes from a meeting from that “Beckett Park is not safe for students and the public alike during the hours of darkness.”
However, the future is still uncertain. Despite Leeds Council voting unanimously to look into the issue after the petition was presented a few weeks ago, funding is not guaranteed.
Considering the fact that the Leeds City Council budget has been slashed by 47% (£214m) and has shed 2,500 posts since 2010, it may not manage to prioritise the project. Their official position suggests that may be the case, as they issued a press release stating: “it is important to maintain a balance between acting on requests such as this one and encouraging the public to use already established walking routes, particularly at night.”