One characteristic of North Leeds is the abundance of stone. Houses, pavements, walls – all remind you that our city sits in the foothills of the Pennines. Here in Leeds NW stone is a feature which unites our very diverse constituency – from inner city Headingley out to the towns of Otley and Yeadon.
So stone theft is a problem which touches us all – it’s a blight on our common environment.
And the theft of Yorkstone pavements is a real problem.
Unfortunately the flags which make our public spaces special and attractive are also a commodity which commands a price!
That’s why Labour Councillors in Headingley have pressed for action – and why the Labour council has taken it.

Some of the Headingley and Weetwood Labour team - at the side of one of those great stone walls!
Some of the Headingley and Weetwood Labour team – at the side of one of those great stone walls!

The Council will soon start treating Yorkstone flags with smart water. This will help to identify stolen paving stones and catch the culprits who are ripping up pavements for personal gain – making local residents’ lives much harder, tying up valuable resources in patching and replacing stone flags – and spoiling the appearance of our streets.
The Council will also be working with the College of Building on a training scheme which is intended to improve the quality and speed of reinstatement work and make the removal of flags more difficult.

Councillors are also calling on members of the public to report any suspicious activity or stone thefts to the Police, so detailed intelligence can be gathered and the criminals behind these thefts caught.
Councillor Richard Lewis, (Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning) said:
“I know that many residents are as sick to their back teeth as I am with thefts of Yorkstone pavements and coping stones, which degrade neighbourhoods and put an unnecessary strain on highways budgets. Invisible markers will enable us to monitor the flags being sold and identify thieves. We are working with the Police, but have to play our part in trying to stop this illegal trade in the public’s assets.
“Put simply, our ambition is to squeeze this trade as we’ve done with the theft of other public assets such as manhole covers.”

Neil Walshaw, one of Labour’s Headingley councillors, said:
“It simply isn’t right for people to profit from stealing Yorkstone paving and I’m glad the Council is working with the Police to stop this illegal trade. In Headingley we know all too well how easy it can be to cause damage and destruction to pavements. I’d call on anyone noticing stone thefts or suspicious behaviour –including during the day- to report this to the Police when it is safe to do so.
“Where Yorkstone paving is removed, we want to work to see it replaced where it is reasonable to do so, as no-one wants to see a patchwork street with mixtures of Yorkstone and tarmac. What’s more, giving local students a chance for some “hands on” experience will help them get to grips with working with this great material.”

Others talk the talk on stone theft – stone is dear, but words are cheap.
Labour walks the walk – and hopes to ensure our pavements are in a fit state for you to do that, too!

On May 5 you’ll have a chance to vote for Councillors in all the wards of Leeds NW – Headingley, Weetwood, Adel and Wharfedale, and Otley and Yeadon.
Use your vote for Labour – so we can continue the good work.

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