Thieves deal blow to Leeds social enterprise

Canal Connections is based at Thwaite Mills in Stourton. Picture: Leeds City Council
Canal Connections is based at Thwaite Mills in Stourton. Picture: Leeds City Council

Thieves have targeted a social enterprise which works along the waterways of Leeds and Bradford.

Volunteers with Canal Connections found tools worth an estimated £1,500 had been taken from their base at Thwaite Mills in Stourton last week.

The break-in, one of a number suffered in recent years, took place some time between last Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

Canal Connections director Trevor Roberts said: “It’s quite demoralising. I’m a former police officer myself so I know that there are crimes that have a greater impact, but when you a have a lot of support from volunteers, some of whom are picking themselves up from challenges in their lives, this just knocks them back really.”

The organisation uses boats as a way to engage people and build confidence, and also carries out environmental work and clean-ups near the canal.

Howard Tomlinson, 62, runs the Canal Connections moorings at Thwaite Mills after retiring and keeps his boat there.

“Since we’ve moved down to Leeds, we’ve been broken into four or five times,” he said. “This time they’ve taken tools worth about £1,500. We’re a bit cash strapped to say the least and can’t afford to replace them. I’m a bit broken now.”

He said the response from police had been fantastic, but added: “There’s not a lot they can do unless they catch them red-handed, but they might stumbles across the tools elsewhere and I’d be able to prove they’re mine.”

Mr Roberts said the organisation was only just recovering from the floods in 2015.

“Summer is the time when people want to go out onto the water,” he said. “This stops us doing the kind of work which our volunteers enjoy doing.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.

Benjamin Bateman

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