Go-ahead for prostitutes’ drop-in centre at unused building on Leeds industrial estate

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PLANS for a new drop-in centre for prostitutes in a Leeds suburb have been given the go-ahead.

The Joanna charity, which runs a support service for working girls, has been awarded a six-year lease for new premises in Sydenham Street, Holbeck.

The project had wanted to move its base from the city centre to Holbeck, which has previously been dubbed the city’s “red light district”, the idea being to offer outreach support to girls already working the area.

A report just approved by Leeds council officers says: “The lease to Joanna Leeds represents a good opportunity to the council to bring this property back into use and in so doing will also provide assistance to a vulnerable section of the population of Leeds.”

The report says the building has stood empty since the last live-in caretaker on the Domestic Street Industrial Estate occupied it. Numerous attempts to let it have failed.

There had been some local opposition to the plans, with some residents saying the proposed centre was too near family homes.

However Jackie Hird, project-co ordinator for Joanna, previously told the YEP: “We want a building that is accessible for people who are already there. It’s a very small building and we are only a very small charity.

“When we do our outreach work, we meet women who don’t have an address or a phone. Our whole aim is to help them EXIT prostitution. We want to solve the problem, not exacerbate it.”

She added the building would be in an industrial area and “discreet” without any signs.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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