Calls for more scrutiny on commercial lets as knife store raid after reports rival gangs used weapons bought in store

A Leeds politician will call on the council to work more closely with commercial lets to ensure it has more control over which shops occupy its buildings.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:45 am
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 7:14 pm

It follows a recent news report on a raid at a knife shop in Leeds city centre, in a building on which the freehold is owned by the authority.

Neighbourhood policing team officers executed a warrant at Fantasia on Tuesday, December 7 after criminal gangs involved in recent violent incidents had used weapons bought from the shop.

It was then banned from selling combat style knives after a partial closure order was granted.

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Conservative councillor Matt Robinson is calling on the council to work more closely with commercial lets to ensure it has more control over which shops occupy its buildings. Photo: Fantasia Leeds cc Google

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Fantasia store in Leeds banned from selling combat style knives for eight weeks

Leeds City Council says it is working hard to take “robust action” against knife crime, and that it sought a partial closure order on the shop in question to work more closely with the owners and police.

A motion, known as a “white paper” is set to be presented by Conservative councillor Matt Robinson at next week’s full Leeds City Council meeting.

It reads: “This council notes with concern the recent YEP article relating to the Fantasia knife store on Ludgate Hill and is deeply concerned about the council’s commercial involvement in those premises.

“Council calls for the establishment of a refreshed and more robust policy, including the power of veto, that ensures commercial lets of this nature cannot happen again.

“This council therefore asks for a report to be brought to the February Executive Board addressing this issue, including a review of all current commercial lets and setting out a new proactive policy approach that will ensure council owned premises are never used for this purpose again.”

According to the news report, police made three arrests during the raid of Fantasia Knife Store in Ludgate Hill, which sold knives and swords.

However, Leeds City Council says it does not to have any direct involvement with the company, as the leasehold for the building was sold by the authority in 1990.

A council spokesperson said: “Knife crime is an extremely serious offense (sic), and we are dedicated to taking robust action to prevent it and keep our communities safe – regardless of who owns the premises involved.

“The council proactively sought a Partial Closure Order to encourage the business to work more closely with the council and police to ensure they understand the law and their responsibilities when it comes to the sale of knives.

“Tackling knife crime is a key priority for Safer Leeds and we will continue to work with our partner agencies and West Yorkshire Police to keep knives off our streets.

“The Council does own the freehold of Leeming House but leased out the entire block for 199 years in 1990. The Council has no day-to-day involvement in the management of Leeming

House and can confirm that it does not have a direct tenancy agreement or relationship with the Fantasia Knife Store.”

Leeds city councillors will debate Coun Robinson’s motion at a full council meeting on Wednesday, January 12, where a vote will take place as to whether to adopt it as policy.

Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporting Service