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24 September 2014

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Harehills: "A kooky old place"
Housing in Harehills
Harehills: Nearly all the homes are rented
Resident Kevin Hickson tells us what it's like living in Harehills, and why more needs to be done to improve the area.

Guide to Harehills

Harehills: A kooky old place
Harehills: Not so kooky
Don't look down

Chapeltown and Harehills community website
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"Harehills has been my home for many years now and I've seen the place change beyond recongnition.

"Up until the 1970s it was a pleasant place to live, there was a real community spirit and little in the way of crime.

"Since then the area has, for many reasons, fallen into a state of near anarchy and sqalour. Key factors which fuel its continuing decay are in urgent need of addressing to halt a further fall.

"Nearly all the homes here are rented so few people now own where they live. This means the population is pretty transient and few are actually responsible or concerned with the upkeep of their dwelling.

"Many landlords do little to maintain the properties they own, prefering only to cream cash from the council by charging ludicrously high rents for squalid homes which only those trapped on benefits would consider renting.

"These tennants obviously don't want to improve the houses themselves (how could they afford to?), so these properties just gradually become unsightly making the area more unpleasant to live in.

Housing in Harehills
Housing in Harehills

"The outcome of this is that landlords, desperate to rent their houses to anyone, take on people who would find it impossible to get higher quality accomodation.

"So Harehills ends up with an increased population of difficult tennants such as drug addicts, dysfuntional families and other socially 'challenging' folk.

"Leeds Council does little to repair, improve or invest in the area, probably because few complain.

"Most of the people living here feel ignored and despondent, making them unlikely to gripe about the conditions as vocally as perhaps people in a more middle class area would.

"There's also a high percentage of people who speak little English, so these people are even less likely to pressure the council into improving things.

"The police are quite illusive too. Street crime is rampant and anyone who says it's not, either doesn't live around here, is without their faculties or works for one of the failing agencies.

"Drug related incidents are an everyday phenomena. Dealers and substance abusers are unhindered by the law here.

"Violence is common-place yet interestingly police policy seems to be to deal with incidents only if they are really forced to or if they are easy to deal with.

"I have been stopped nearly a dozen times for driving 'suspiciously' down my street in the afternoon and yet a drug dealer stands everyday on the corner outside my home completely ignored.

"It seems harrassing vulnerable and untheatening members of the public is a way of escaping the arduous task of apprehending real criminals.

"Yes, Harehills is a kooky old place. Neglected and despised by the privileged and yet if you look closely there are marvellous characters and deliciously wholesome souls who live in this densely packed urban chaos. It just needs a lot of help, that's all."

If you would like to add your comments about Harehills, or any other district of Leeds, e-mail

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