YEP Says, February 19: Cuts leave no option but to pull plug on Party in the Park

29 july 2013.'Party in the Park 2013 at Temple Newsam, Leeds.'Dizzee Rascal on stage.
29 july 2013.'Party in the Park 2013 at Temple Newsam, Leeds.'Dizzee Rascal on stage.
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Sad end to hugely popular event.

THE decision to bring Party in the Park to an end won’t have been taken lightly.

As council leader Keith Wakefield said himself, the pop extravaganza and sister event Opera in the Park have been two of the “jewels in the crown” for Leeds down the years.

Party in the Park especially has been a roaring success, regularly drawing crowds of 70,000 and some of the brightest pop talent around.

The likes of Gary Barlow, One Direction and Dizzee Rascal have all graced the stage at Temple Newsam – and its absence is sure to leave a big hole in the calendar.

But given the scale of the funding cuts with which the council is having to contend it is surely the only possible option.

Even after charging an entry fee to last year’s Party in the Park, it still left the council with a shortfall of nearly £200,000.

The budget for the year ahead that will be agreed later this month will include a fresh round of savings worth £50m and the loss of around 200 jobs.

Council tax is also set to go up for the first time in four years with a rise of 1.99 per cent, the maximum allowed under Government rules.

Sadly, against that backdrop, the cost of staging these two events couldn’t be justified. The only hope is that at some point they might return.

Signs of progress with troubled families

The fact that just 19 out of the 1,000 most troubled families in Leeds have been helped into work doesn’t seem a great hit rate.

But there are encouraging signs of progress. In more than half the families Leeds City Council has approached so far, children are at least attending school and long-standing issues of crime and anti-social behaviour have stopped.

It will take time to change attitudes in those families that were allowed to become over dependent on benefits.

Given that they are a huge drain on the public pocket, Leeds needs to be in it for the long haul.


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