With an election now looming on the 8th June, we have had to put a temporary hold on our Poverty Truth Manifesto blogs, (as we have civil servants involved as commissioners and publicity about the manifestos could be construed as breaking purdah). However, ahead of our next gathering this Friday, two of our commissioners have written the following reflection on their experience of being in the Leeds City Council chambers for our last gathering…
Christine and Maria reflect on the commission’s recent visit to the Council Chambers.
Lucinda Yeadon, deputy leader of Leeds City Council invited us to hold our last Poverty Truth Commission meeting in the Council Chambers.
Our first impressions of the Chambers were of a well-kept, really grand space, a bit like a museum and part of the history of Leeds. There’s no electric lighting, only natural light occupies the space. This made a change to our usual meeting space at Ebor Court, which is ‘tatty but sufficient’, ‘dilapidated and cold’. There are numerous rooms in the Civic Hall but little is known about what actually goes on in them!
Lucinda explained the historical background and about the set up in the Chambers, including how the Council voting system works which was really interesting. The way the timing system works for the person who is talking and how the light turns from green to red if someone has gone over time. Also how one person has control over all the microphones. It felt like a mini parliament.
It is not widely known that the general public can sit in and listen at the Chambers on a Wednesday. It will be interesting to listen in over the coming weeks, leading up to the general election.
- I have lived in Leeds for 45 years (Christine) and had never been in the Civic Hall before being involved with the Poverty Truth Commission. I now have a better understanding of what actually goes on in the building.
- I have lived in Leeds for 52 years (Maria). This was my second visit to the Chambers. Being in the space evoked a lot of memories and took me right back to my first visit in 1965. I had moved from a small mining village in South Yorkshire, to the big city to study at university and I remember sitting in the Chambers and people heckling!
It felt symbolic to be writing manifestos for Leeds, whilst in the Chambers and perhaps the space changed our mind-sets. We felt as equals there and this helped with discussions. We are all Commissioners and our opinions are being listened to and it felt easy to put our views across.