Headingley residents dispute defences of Leeds pub crawl Otley Run with passionate letters

Residents of Headingley have disputed recent defences of Leeds pub crawl the Otley Run.
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After the crawl was criticised for making Headingley resemble Spanish party destination Magaluf, the YEP ventured out to speak to people on the crawl.

Several people on the crawl launched a staunch defence of what is known as a rite of passage for Leeds students, insisting it benefits businesses amid other claims.

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However, residents have written to the YEP to oppose comments made and outline issues with the Otley Run.

The Otley Run has become a staple of the Leeds drinking scene. Image: Steve RidingThe Otley Run has become a staple of the Leeds drinking scene. Image: Steve Riding
The Otley Run has become a staple of the Leeds drinking scene. Image: Steve Riding

Below are the letters from Headingley residents, as well as Councillor Al Garthwaite, in full.

Sophia Bacrí:

“I would really like to emphasise this bit:

"I can understand why the residents around the pubs [might not be supportive of it], but I think that’s kind of a given if you have a house round here.”

“I am a young professional starting a family. I cannot get myself to walk in Headingley centre on a Friday evening or a Saturday with young children because there are drunk, loud, noisy people in the streets, sometimes urinating publicly, sometimes doing cocaine in the side streets in broad daylight, sometimes being loud and aggressive.

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“Sure, pubs might benefit economically, but that's just a few pubs (the pub that does not allow Otley run people on their premises, ‘Arcadia’, is always busy with locals. It's the only pub I can get myself to visit). Pubs also get a lot of business from the stadium - so glorifying the Otley Run as the key source of income is misleading.

“It also damages a lot of the other types of businesses. The centre of Headingley has a lot of cute flower shops, record stores and cafes. The Otley Run makes it very unpleasant to try and go visit those cafes (see my comment above).

"Moreover, instead of these small independent shops, the high street is filling up with fast food shops to cater to the rowdy drunk crowd rather than the residents.

“I also take issue with the comments cited below:

Aside from the economic benefits, several revellers hailed the way in which the crawl brings people together.

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Ellie Jessop said: "It brings the community together, everyone’s saying ‘oh, I like what you’re wearing’, it just brings you together."

“Sure, if you are drunk and in a large group, people "are brought together". But again, there are many other ways of creating a sense of community in a way that does not encourage excessive drinking.

"Excessive alcohol consumption is bad for one’s health, leads to public urination and vomiting, and should not be encouraged as a way for young people to socialise.”

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Leeds revellers defend Otley Run pub crawl as they say it benefits businesses in...

Councillor Al Garthwaite:

“We aren’t against people having fun, but sexual harassment, on-street and in-garden vomiting and urination, walking/running/fighting in the middle of the road and/or crowding pedestrians off the pavement are not fun. Yet these are the complaints about some of the Otley Runners that councillors, the MP’s office and the police are now receiving every day from local residents, including quite a number of students.

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“The behaviour of older (late 20s to 50s) all-male groups from outside Leeds is especially highlighted. Many of these men arrive already drunk and grow steadily drunker as they crash their way down through the pubs. We’ve heard some terrible stories from women in particular who feel, and are being, threatened and tormented by some of these men. Their behaviour runs from verbal harassment to actual sexual assault.

“I myself have challenged public urination, which is not confined to these older groups, but arguing with drunks is a hopeless matter. The police and council officers can’t be everywhere at once to stop it and issue fines.

“Bar managers do refuse entry to very drunk people and work to keep order for their customers. Leeds City Council is working with the police, bars and others to review the whole situation and come up with some plans. If you are badly affected, please do report it there and then with specific details of time, place and who did what. You can contact West Yorkshire Police and use their report-it form; if the incident relates to a particular bar, let the staff know. Many pubs are signed up to the Ask for Angela scheme and pledge to take steps.

“We really don’t want to spoil people’s fun, as I said, but do urge Otley runners to remember other people’s safety and comfort when they’re out and about. Don’t endanger your life and other people’s by wandering heedlessly into the road or blocking the pavements; avoid getting caught short (all pubs have toilets); don’t get so out of it that you’re sick on the street; and obviously, treat everyone with respect rather than harassment.”

Lee Davidson:

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“I write as a resident of Headingley since 1965 to dispute vigorously the claimed benefits to the neighbourhood of the Otley Run.

"My wife now refuses to visit the shops in central Headingley on a Saturday afternoon because the pavements are filled with crowds of loud-mouthed inebriates who are totally insensitive to the presence of normal residents.

"I take particular exception to the quoted remark that "I can understand why the residents around the pubs [might not be supportive of it], but I think that’s kind of a given if you have a house round here.”, as though the Run was some kind of natural event.

"It is a regular event which imposes nuisance of various kinds on local residents and which has undergone none of the scrutiny which a properly planned event would have been subjected to. It is an entirely commercially motivated infliction which has been thrust on residents without consultation.”

Dr Richard Tyler:

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“When Otley Runners claim that they benefit businesses in Headingley (Leeds revellers defend Otley Run, 26 September), they simply show their ignorance of the community on which they are such a blight.

"Of course, they benefit the pubs, which are only too pleased to take advantage. But do they pause to go shopping locally? Of course, not! In fact, they make Headingley so unpleasant, with their noise, crowds and unpleasant behaviour - that many local residents avoid the area. And so local businesses lose out.”