Ron Miller

07717 150625

Scholes Gala: one of the biggest local events of the year, Scholes Gala, will take place on Saturday, June 15, featuring the traditional parade through the village of the Gala Queen and her entourage. The popular event, held in Scholes Elmet Primary School’s playing field, is organised by members of the village hall committee. All proceeds go towards the upkeep and improvement of the hall, a vital community resource. Their fundraising has special significance this year as, using the benefit of grants, the committee is about to begin one of the most ambitious programme of improvements ever seen at the village hall. The work will cost around £60,000, of which £4,000 has been provided by the parish council to enable the committee to qualify for a further, substantial grant coming indirectly from Landfill Tax receipts. Among the attractions at this year’s gala will be donkey rides organised by the Friends of Scholes Primary School, who will also help to provide refreshments on the day. Local organisations manning stalls will include the Barwick and Scholes branch of the Royal British Legion, which is seeking new members in good time for this year’s Poppy Appeal.

Could parish face split? The possibility of Barwick and Scholes becoming separate parishes, each with its own parish council, has been raised by Scholes resident and local planning expert George Hall. In an email addressed to Harewood ward members of Leeds City Council, Mr Hall has expressed the view that “there is – and it may be argued always has been – some conflict within the parish council,” adding that “currently the feeling is that Scholes is being dominated by Barwick, through decisions taken by (the) council.” Claiming that parish councillors carry out more discussion of local issues via emails than in council meetings, Mr Hall added: “It is perceived that council meetings basically ‘rubber stamp’ positions which are agreed by members prior to meetings, often being guided by the clerk.” He also claimed that most elected or co-opted members of the parish council have not been trained fully to understand their responsibilities. He added: “This (membership of the council) may and often does mean representing the views of others which may differ from their own personal position.” However, any proposal to split the parish would need to be put to electors in Barwick and Scholes through a local referendum and even organising this would be a long and expensive process, funded by council taxpayers. Mr Hall recently resigned from several committees and groups, including the steering group putting together the Scholes section of a Neighbourhood Development Plan. In his email to city councillors he commented: “My stated intention to withdraw from public life may well be a pipe dream as the community are seeking my continued involvement and asking ‘Who else can we turn to?” Mr Hall’s typically outspoken comments are likely to find little support within the parish council, though will no doubt be welcomed by members of the Save our Scholes lobby group, who openly criticise the council on a social networking site. At the recent annual parish meeting Coun Matthew Robinson, one of three Harewood ward members of the city council, urged members of the SOS group to set their differences to one side and work with the parish council on behalf of the village and its residents. He warned that if developers sense division within the community they would perceive that as a weakness in any defence being mounted against unwelcome development plans. The parish council has made it clear to the lobby group that their views are important and they are welcome to attend meetings of the steering group producing the Neighbourhood Development Plan for Barwick and Scholes. The group has called for improved communication and consultation between the parish council and local residents, though the council responds by drawing attention to the parish website, the Neighbourhood Development Plan website and the informative newsletters delivered by hand to every home in the parish, coupled with public meetings for contentious issues to be discussed. These are often poorly attended, despite being well publicised in advance, and are more likely to attract those residents who strongly oppose controversial suggestions such as improving facilities for children and young people living in the two villages.

Scholes litter pick: in an effort to ensure that Scholes looks its very best for the Scholes in Bloom Open Gardens event on Sunday, July 14, from 1-5pm and for the visit of Yorkshire in Bloom judges during the following Tuesday, July 16, a community litter pick is being organise for Saturday, July 13. All villagers will be welcome to join in the village-wide sweep collecting litter from streets, open spaces and verges. The volunteers will meet at 10am in the car park adjacent to St Philip’s Church.

Trustees’ grants: fifteen grants to help local people in need, totalling £4,082, were awarded during the last financial year by the Trustees of the Ancient Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet and Scholes. This charitable body’s area of influence goes far beyond the two villages as the ancient parish included parts of east and north Leeds including Swarcliffe, Whinmoor and Roundhay. The trust uses funds accumulated from charitable donations made over many generations for the benefit of local people trying to cope with hardship.

Diary dates: villagers and visitors alike will enjoy the benefit of open gardens events in both Barwick and Scholes this summer. Barwick’s event will take place on Sunday, June 23 while the bi-annual Scholes event, which is associated with a scarecrow trail, will be on Sunday, July 14. All the brave folk who are opening their cherished gardens to critical viewing need is some half decent weather before members of the great British public turn up at their gate.