The Common Place – Lacking Appeal

Yesterday Leeds city centre’s volunteer-run community space The Common Place lost the court battle to keep its entertainment licence.

The above linked article explains the background to this decision including an anonymous addition which speculates as to the role of the West Yorkshire Police and a rogue element in the Licensing Department in influencing the final decision.

While these allegations may have some substances to them, Tiberius can’t help but feel that that there is a more fundamental reason why the Common Place (CP) is at risk from action such as these : it just isn’t popular enough.

(Tiberius can sense that this will not be the sort of appraisal of the situation the reader will have been  hoping for so please allow him to explain)

The CP is located on Wharf Street, sandwiched between  Kirkgate Market and the working class pubs that surround it (The Duck & Drake, The Regent, etc) To the North, while, to the South,  are the trendier urbans bars of The Calls and Brewery Wharf (Aire Bar,  The Oracle, etc).  Similarily it is almost equidistant between the council houses on the Ladybeck estate and the newly built flats of Clarence Dock.

In this respect, the CP reprents a middle ground between what we can cruedly label ‘Rich Leeds’ and ‘Poor Leeds’. Yet, paradoxically, it seems to be more removed from both these areas than they are from one another, both in terms of the people that use it and the philosophy that underpins it.

Tiberius has been to the CP a number of times, but very rarely does he hear a local voice or recognise someone from the community in which he grew up. This is neither a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing.

The reality seems to be that the CP is run by one marginal group (young leftists) for the benefit of other marginalised groups (refugees, asylum seekers, environmental activists, mental health groups). This is not a ‘problem’ –  its existence in this form shows that there is a need for such a service. However, the inevitabe result of this isolation from the surrounding area is a somewhat insular establishment, divorced from the rest of Leeds; a place where you’re  more likely to hear a London or Iraqi accent than a Leeds one.

In short, Tiberius has always thoughtthat the Common Place just doesn’t really feel very, well,  ‘common’.

Perhaps this is an unfair assesment and in response to this latest threat to the CP’s existence the wider Leeds community will gather round it in support. Tiberius  hopes this happens and that he is proven wrong; time will tell.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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