The Otley Run has been a fixture in our community for many years now. We are quite used to seeing young people in fancy dress making their way down Otley Road, enjoying the bars that participate.
But in recent weeks and months, what was once a student right of passage has grown exponentially into a nationally recognised event. It is now a favourite for stag and hen parties and work outings where people are coached into the area in their hundreds.
This has caused serious problems for residents and many local businesses. Parents with prams and those with mobility issues struggle to get through the waves of people walking down the street, reports of anti-social behaviour, public urination and sexual harassment have grown and many residents feel unsafe and intimidated to go out, even in the early afternoon.
This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue along the current course and we are taking action to see meaningful change.
To achieve this, we have to explore several different avenues and potential interventions. So far we have met with Safer Leeds, Child Friendly Headingley and Women’s Lives Leeds to encourage a joined up approach to tackling this problem.
We are meeting with licensing at the council to explore our statutory options. We are also inviting bars to participate in a round table to see what more could be done to support residents and to ensure a ‘code of conduct’ goes up in every pub. And we are meeting with the other local businesses to find out what extra support they need.
We are supporting the police in their application for more patrols during peak times.
We are looking at ways to reduce the number of coach trips and writing to businesses asking to end their advertising of the Otley Run.
Reporting is hugely important.
Please raise concerns or report incidents of anti-social behaviour using our reporting tool
You can also use the tool just to leave an email or phone number if you want to be kept updated with the actions we’re taking.
We will continue to do all we can to ensure balance is restored in Headingley and that we have a thriving high street that can be enjoyed by everyone.
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By Alex Sobel MP, Cllr Emma Flint, Cllr Al Garthwaite, Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Cllr Neil Walshaw and Cllr Izaak WIlson