Our club was used to film ITV drama – now we’re building £25K fence to keep out machete gangs after finding dead body | The Sun

Our club was used to film ITV drama – now we’re building £25K fence to keep out machete gangs after finding dead body | The Sun

December 5, 2023

IT was once a thriving hub of the community and recently used as a filming location for a hit ITV drama.

But the acting secretary of a working men’s club in the Harehills area of Leeds has revealed they’ve been forced to sell off the plot to fund a new security fence in a desperate attempt to keep out violent gangs and drug users.

The Sun visited the blighted suburb last week, after a spate of gangland-style stabbings and murders left people fearing for their safety.

Harehills Labour Club’s acting secretary Dave Ewart, 69, told us the club grounds – where ITV filmed scenes for its Yorkshire Ripper drama The Long Shadow – have been abused by people “coming in un-invited to the site…defecating and leaving drug paraphernalia”.

“We had to get a specialist removal company in as your normal rubbish removal company won’t touch needles. That cost us £750,” Dave said.

“This is a dying industry, we are trying to prolong it as long as we can. 



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“In order to raise funds we have now sold the land, and they will be our landlord. 

“As part of that deal we are currently putting a £25,000 fence around the venue – we would not have been able to afford to do that on our own. 

“Until this point it has always been completely open. We have an outside drinking area and grounds but this is always abused. 

“At one point there was a man camping here… one morning we even had a dead body.

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Before the fence the club had an outside drinking area and grounds which were 'always abused'Credit: .
Dave told how people leave drug paraphernalia including needlesCredit: Glen Minikin

“We suspect it was the man who had been sleeping in the tent and he’d died of some drug-related problem but we never found out.

“People use us as a cut-through and once we had a man being chased by another with a machete across our grounds. It’s not great for our area or the community. 

“The real shocking thing is that we’re not shocked by what we see anymore.”

At one point there was a man camping here… one morning we even had a dead body

Harehills Labour Club was established in 1968 and opened by Labour MP Denis Healey.

In its heyday it had a membership of 1,200, but this has now dwindled to around 600.

It remains a relic to the 1970s, with traditional working men's club decor and a bar which serves Boddingtons bitter and John Smith's ale on draft.

The lounge area of the club acted as the inside of The Gaiety pub in nearby Chapeltown for The Long Shadow and was where actress Katherine Kelly, who played victim Emily Jackson, did most of her scenes.

The grand concert room is a massive venue but will only get half full on a busy night. Weekend acts range from Dolly Parton and Take That tribute bands to comedians.

Dave, a retired accountant and building estimator who lives in nearby Gipton, said: “The drop in interest is not just a change of culture in the area.

“It's the fact that we have lost a generation who would now rather spend their money in town. “It is the way of the world, and we can't change the way of the world, but we are trying to prolong it as much as possible.

“We are a community hub and everybody is welcome here, even non-drinkers, you can spend just as much these days drinking lemonade. The only thing required to attend is membership.”

'No support'

He added: “We don’t feel we’ve had much help. We were threatened with a huge fine if we didn’t clear up much of what was deposited on the periphery of the club’s premises.

“We had a big problem with fly tipping, but when we went to the council they told us they would fine us £20k if we didn’t remove it. 

“Where is the support there? For a business that is struggling to survive and is essential for the community in an area such as this. A cost like that would floor us. 

“There is a lack of policing and lack of council interest.

“So instead we have come up with an agreement to keep us going and we’re hoping the fence will allow us to put an end to all the problems we have been having.”

Dave said he believes the fence will help “enormously”, and they also have their own CCTV in place to keep an eye on the outside of the club.

“People abuse what we have all the time, they sit at our benches outside and eat their food like it's a picnic and park in a car park and sometimes leave it for a day, sometimes for a fortnight,” he said.

“I am pleased the fence will stop all of this. It’s a pity that what was once a thriving hub of the community is very much on a downward slide. 

We had a big problem with fly tipping, but when we went to the council they told us they would fine us £20k if we didn’t remove it

“We’re making our own efforts in our little way to make things better here, but it would be nice if the authorities could be more proactive in pursuing the same things.”

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “No one should have to put up with anti-social or criminal behaviour, and through our Safer Leeds partnership, the council works closely with West Yorkshire Police and members of the community in Harehills to address any concerns around anti-social behaviour and wider crime issues.

“We recognise the impact crime and anti-social behaviour can have on communities and through this partnership work, we look towards longer-term solutions which make our communities safer and deter those involved.

“Enforcement tools that are available to the council include court injunctions banning people from engaging in certain types of behaviour, premises closure orders and, in cases that involve a person who is a council tenant, taking action related to their tenancy.

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“We would ask anyone who is experiencing crime or anti-social behaviour in the area to please contact the police or the council’s dedicated anti-social behaviour team as soon as possible.

“Residents can be assured that all cases will be investigated in a thorough and confidential manner.”

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