is Wayne Dixon. I am a 38-year-old family man, married to Sarah, and father of two young boys. I live in Middleton, and have lived there or Belle Isle all my life. I
have been a member of the Belle Isle WMC since I was 18. I love this community, and my mission in life is to improve it, for my family and for everybody living here.
I have a full time job, but my passion is to help Middleton & Belle Isle. In 2004, I founded Middleton Park FC for children and teenagers on the local estate. It now has over 200 regular players and more than 30 volunteer coaches. I still coach junior sides there, and am currently the Club Secretary. I have previously sat on the committees of the Stop Park and Ride Stourton (SPARS) campaign, not my school campaign, the West Yorkshire Association Football League, the Leeds Football Association and the Leeds Red Triangle Football League. I currently sit on the following organisation and trustee boards.
I work full-time as an Employment Advisor for the NHS helping patients with mental illnesses move into, or sustain, their employment. Previously, I spent over seven years as a Employment & Engagement Support Worker at GIPSIL, where I helped homeless people or those at risk of becoming homeless to move into education, training or employment. Before that, I was a Youth Worker in South Leeds (eight years at Health for All – Cupboard Project), Cockburn and South Leeds Academy Schools (Cockburn John Charles as it is now). I have also worked in other sectors, including Warehousing, Retail and Sales. My work has given me a good understanding of the various issues affecting families, like debt, crime and childcare costs.
I stand for election as Middleton & Belle Isle ward Councillor as an extension of this work and my previous efforts to improve the community.
There are plenty of empty suits at Leeds City Council who talk a lot about their “passion” for helping people and “commitment” to this community. But it is easy to talk big – how many of them match their talk with deeds? My work in this community has brought me into contact with the Council’s decision-makers. I have seen how they work, and I can tell you that they do not always have our interests at heart. I am sad to say that political games and general indifference often get in the way. Middleton & Belle Isle seems to get forgotten.
I will give you some examples. Middleton Park FC proposed using Middleton Golf Club as a community space. Our Councillors agreed that this would help us be more sustainable, too. However, a cycling business from Rothwell raised a petition for a cycling trial track. Our Councillors backed this, but refused to explain why they could not integrate both ideas. This seemed strange, as we had suggested using the space for all sports, including cycling. We asked locals to support our ideas, and many did through the Council’s consultation process. This consultation was never made public, and I suspect that local people were simply ignored.
Now the South Leeds Golf Club stands unused. I will oppose its demolition. I will campaign for it to be used for young people's activities and general community space.
The Council's poor consultations are often a way for it to force unwanted things on our area. One example of this is the Park & Ride, which I campaigned against with the SPARS group. I believed that simply moving pollution was not going to help the many people in our area who suffered from respiratory illnesses, such as COPD and Asthma. However, our Council ignored that Middleton & Belle Isle has some of the highest rates of respiratory illness in the country. They failed to support the most vulnerable in our community. When they should have been helping us, the Labour Council did the opposite. Yet again, they failed Middleton & Belle Isle. Labour showed it just didn’t care.
However, it is not just these issues. The rot goes back much further. Growing up in Thorpe Square, Middleton in the 80s and 90s, I heard people complaining about the same things that people are still suffering through today.
While all of these problems are left untouched, let us look at some of the things the Labour Council has done in just the last five years.
How do you think £13.6m could have been spent? Probably, like me, you would prefer it had not been wasted on failing hotels, hiding the identities of tax-dodging Councillors, and a hundred square metre ‘park’. All while raising the council tax and levying evermore charges on us. Central government cuts have been terrible, and I believe they are wrong. However, our Labour Council compounds this by wasting money. They claim they cannot fund more police, or even to tackle dog fouling. However, they have plenty for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, or to apply to be European Capital of Culture.
I could go on forever. It is clear that our current Labour Council has improved nothing for Middleton & Belle Isle. In fact, it is clear they have not done much to improve it for over two decades. Are we going to allow them to continue making a mess of things for another two decades? Are you going to continue working hard to pay your taxes, only for it to be wasted? Are we going to have to watch our children suffering through the same problems in 20 years’ time? Or is tribal loyalty to Labour more important than the welfare of our neighbours and children? I say no – no to all of those questions.
I say, “Enough!” It is time for a change. I do not want to imagine myself as a pensioner having to tell my children that I did nothing while the Labour Leeds City Council continued making things worse. For this reason, in May, I will stand and be counted. I will stand for those who want action, not words; for those who love Middleton & Belle Isle, and have seen how this community has been failed by the same, tired old Labour career politicians. I will stand for all the people who say, “Enough!” and want change.
Since 2016, when I first stood for election as councillor, I have realised that my voice is not the only one being ignored, and that many issues go unanswered or are being contemptuously brushed aside. I struggled to get myself noticed as an independent. I realised that I needed to join a party to have any chance of success against the do-nothing Labour Council. After reading the policies of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), I joined, later the party wrote the new declaration which inspired me further. The SDP believe in family, community and nation. The SDP say Britain is a great place and more must be done to help its communities. The SDP believes in supporting families, and making working class areas better places to live.
The contrast with our Labour Councillors could not have been bigger. What have they done to make Middleton & Belle Isle a better place or support families in our community? They seem more interested in whether statues should be removed, making sure the evils of imperialism are taught in our schools and hiding the identities of their tax-dodging colleagues. This obviously struck a chord with the people of Middleton & Belle Isle, because in the next election, doubled my vote share. Last time, I was only a few hundred votes away from victory.
The SDP has the policies to improve things. I have the energy, local knowledge and commitment to Middleton & Belle Isle to make them happen. I also think my history and record should allow you to trust me to live up to my word – but I will let you judge that.
But I need your help on one small thing: we need, as a community, to get to the voting booths. Last time, barely a quarter of you voted in the Council elections. That is how the Leeds City Council gets away with such incompetence. As a community, we need to say “Enough!”, take half and hour to vote, and let them know what we think. If we do this, we will, together as a community, improve our lives.