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Here is information about the events in our 2022-23 Programme:

Tuesday July 4th 'Talks by Café members'. 

We had the following three interesting talks:

‘Art and Class: How the middle classes hijacked the nation’s galleries’ by David Kennedy.

In the Victorian era the nation’s galleries were packed with working class visitors. Today less than eight per cent of visitors are from the working classes. What was once “art for the many not the few” has become “from the many to the few.” The working classes now subsidise the middle classes through entrance charges, membership schemes, tax deductions and a range of curatorial policies which deny the working classes access to our galleries.

The talk will expose how the working classes are not only paying for the cultural activities of the middle classes but in being denied access to art their children are being denied cultural capital which is a crucial aspect of out our increasingly unequal society.

Knowledge of art and music, which middle-class children acquire through visits to galleries and concerts , is a crucial component of cultural capital which working -class parents cannot afford. This precious commodity opens the door to pupils who score highly on cultural capital and go on to the elite universities.

I argue that everyone should have access to the nation's art , but this will only be achieved if the boards of today's galleries represent all classes and develop inclusive charging and curatorial policies.

"Common Security and the Olof Palme International Peace Center in Stockholm" by Michael McGowan.

I have recently visited the Center in Stockholm which was established in 1992. When Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden, was murdered in February 1986  it was a great loss to the international community. He was a key figure during the Cold War, highly critical of both the United States and the Soviet Union, active in seeking peace and co-operation in South Africa and the Middle East, and promoted the concept of Common Security.     

Olof Palme rejected the idea that security is dependent on military strength. He was  appointed Chair of the UN Commission of Common Security  pointing out rthat climate change, the warming of the planet,  extreme poverty, inequality, terrorism; lack of empowerment of women  - all put life on earth at risk. . 

In Leeds we decided to launch an annual leacture in honour of the life and work of Olof Palme with support from Leeds City Council, the universities, and the the peace movement across the city. Lecturers included Liz Palme the widow of Olof Palm who came to Leeds from Sweden, John Hume from Northern Ireland, US Senator George Mitchel  and Caroline Lucas  MP of the Green Party. 

Olof Palme visited Leeds University as a student politician and last year the lecture was by Anna Sundstrom , Secretary General of the Palme Centre in Stockholm.


50 Ideas For The North - by Patrick Hurley and Tris Brown.

Based on a book which the presenters have recently had published, Patrick and Tris wanted to find out what social innovation ideas the people of the north of England would like to see in their communities. So they did a radical thing - they went and asked them!!! Over the course of 18 months or so, they ran workshops every few weeks in another town or city in the north, and asked for ideas to improve their local area. We collated and wrote up the 50 ideas that appealed the most and put them in a book. This talk will summarise the story of the project and a run-through of some of the most eye-catching ideas.

Tuesday June 6th ‘Defending the right to seek asylum in the UK’. A talk by Mary Brandon, Campaigns Manager for Yorkshire and Humberside Asylum Matters.

Join us for a talk to discuss the current situation for people seeking sanctuary in the UK, tracing the history of asylum in the UK and examining the impacts of the Government's host of new "anti-refugee laws", including the proposed Illegal Migration Bill currently making its way through Parliament. We will also look at how communities across the UK are fighting back against these laws to defend the right to seek safety, and the right to offer it, both in the UK and internationally. 

Click here to download a copy of Mary's presentation slides.

About Mary

Mary Brandon joined Asylum Matters as Campaigns Manager for Yorkshire & Humberside in June 2018. With Asylum Matters, she has co-led the Lift the Ban campaign for the right to work, as well as being part of many other campaigns for asylum rights and protections. Before Asylum Matters, she worked as an Adviser & ESOL tutor at RETAS Leeds and also in mental health. She has been involved in her local City of Sanctuary group since 2015. In her spare time Mary is a proud trustee for Mafwa, a community theatre company based in Leeds.

The information about the Fight the Anti Refugee Laws campaign is available by clicking

And here are some  further reading references


Useful further reading and briefings:


  • The Law Society: briefing on legal implications of the Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID): briefing on detention measures within the Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Explainer on modern slavery clauses in Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Briefing on implications for women of Illegal Migration Bill:'Illegal%20Migration,limit%20on%20the%20detention%20ofI


  • International law: record of UNHCR concerns raised over the Bill:,Bill%20with%20the%20UK%20Government


  • Joint briefing on constitutional implications:


  • Article by Rainbow Migration on implications for LGBTQ+ community:


Tuesday May 2nd 2023 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Dr Muhammad Ali Nasir , Leeds University Business School, ‘Brexit and the UK's complicated relationship with the European Union: past, present and future' .

Dr Nasir's talk is available by clicking here.

About the Talk

Dr Nasir will cover some of the following in his talk: starting first with the past and mainly the UK-Europe relationship after the Post-WWII, cautious engagement,  different milestones of European integration and UK decision,  European Coal and Steel Community, EEC, France's veto to UK application, Joining, 1st Referendum, ERM, opting out from Euro, 2nd Referendum, May Deal, Brexit and   EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, NI issue and changes in protocol, Russian invasion and changing world in which UK-EU need to find common grounds to work together.

Biographical Details





Muhammad Ali Nasir joined the University of Leeds in February 2022. Prior to that, he has worked as an Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Huddersfield since July 2020. Dr Nasir has worked as a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Leeds Business School between May 2012 –  June 2020. He has a PhD in Economics and is greatly interested in the areas of Monetary Economics, Macroeconomics, Financial Economics and International Economics. He has published widely. His most recent publication is ‘Off the Target The Stagnating Political Economy of Europe and Post-Pandemic Recovery’. 2021 Palgrave Macmillan


Tuesday April 11th 2023 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Bill Phelps, ‘Cooperative street-building - a co- housing project in Chapeltown, Leeds '.

In 2010 Bill Phelps was part of the original half dozen long-term Chapeltown residents who got inspired by Lilac Cohousing to do something similar in their own corner of Leeds. Fast forward 13 years: Bill and his wife Ali are now living in ChaCo, opposite Tesco Express at the bottom of Roundhay Road.

In this talk, Bill fills in some of the blanks in the story and shares what they’ve learnt about designing and building a dream neighbourhood. 


Spoiler Alert: it’s not quick or easy - but it’s well worth the effort.


Further information is available below.

Blog « Chapeltown Cohousing

The story behind the new cohousing project in Leeds helping residents live sustainably | Yorkshire

About Bill Phelps



In 1970 Bill Phelps arrived in Leeds to do a PhD and settled in Chapeltown with his wife Ali. Together they set up Wingfinger, a graphic design studio where Bill worked until his so-called retirement. In 2010, he became involved with a group exploring the idea of a cohousing scheme similar to Lilac in Bramley, Leeds. Memorably, Bill also cycled a 100 kg rickshaw over the Alps to the G8 meeting in Genoa in 2001 with a group of friends.


Wednesday March 8th 2023 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.15pm: Professor David Hall, University of Greenwich, 'Public energy, private prices, global climate, and local jobs - the economic and political dynamics of 21st century energy.'. 


In his talk, David aims to cover both the UK and beyond, and talk about 4 things: Generation - moving to green energy and renewable generation and replacing gas;  Market structure: reasons for prices rises and why public ownership is the solution; Grid monopolies: burden of profit extraction and lack of democratic efficiency; Green jobs: creating quality, unionised jobs through green new deal inc. retrofitting.

David's talk is available by clicking here.

Here are useful references to work David has been involved which he will draw on in his talk. 


  • the Guardian piece last May 2022, which covers how public ownership would be beneficial for all three major issues: moving to renewable energy, better and cheaper running of the grids, and avoiding price inflation

  • a piece for TNI about the 2019 Labour policies on public services, including energy plans, with a nice diagram which by happy coincidence uses Leeds as a central example!)

  • a global project which included an account of Biden's 'American Jobs Plan', with a large 'climate/green jobs' programme; followed by a 4-day global conference in June 2022 on 'Shifting Narratives - the Political Economy of Public Spending, services and production (PSSP)', which is now creating a continuing network around these issues.

  • climate finance was one of the issues in that conference, and continuing discussions have included the global climate campaigns of unions via TUED and PSI, most recently around an Asia-centred paper by PSI on a 'public goods approach to climate change',  which also relates to another paper on possibilities for green hydrogen in Africa , and a critique by ODI of the limits of the IFIs/COP 'incentivising private investment approach'  




David Hall is a Visiting Professor at the University of Greenwich, London, in the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), of which he was Director from 2000-2013. He researches the politics, law and economics of public services, public finance, public ownership, privatisation, PPPs, and outsourcing in water, energy, waste management, healthcare and other sectors – globally, in Europe, and in the UK.  He has written many PSIRU reports, journal articles, book chapters, and two books. His recent research covers water company finances, narratives on public spending and services, the economic advantages of public services, lessons from Covid, remunicipalisation trends, investor-state disputes, and the popularity of public ownership.

Tuesday February 7th 2023 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Professor Richard Beardsworth, 'COP27: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly '. 


We tend to judge all COPs by their immediate successes and failures, and COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt this last November has proved no exception. Given the geopolitical context in which this COP took place (the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis, the African food crisis, etc.), expectations were low, and--bar the breakthrough on Loss and Damage and some interesting promises on international financial reform--there was not a lot to celebrate; indeed there were some distinctly ugly moments. This talk will rehearse the major gains and losses of this Conference, underline what is at stake in these outcomes, and suggest what the ambition for COP28 must be if the world is to remain anywhere close to an average temperature rise of 1.5C by the end of this century.  ia re-established.


Richard Beardsworth is Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds (UoL). He is also co-chair of the COP Task Force of the university (with observer status at the conference of the parties). His research lies in the politics of climate change. 

Tuesday January 10th 2023 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Professor Paul Rogers, 'Strategic Implications of the war in Ukraine.


The Ukraine War is having worldwide impacts, not least on the economy of the Global South, world food supplies, a boost to military spending and a bonanza for the international arms trade. It has also changed some of the ways that modern urban warfare is undertaken, in relation to deaths, injuries and material damage.   The talk will aim to cover these and other impacts, suggesting how the war might end and tolerable relations with Russia re-established.


Paul Rogers is Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University and an Honorary Fellow of the Joint Service Command and Staff College. He is a biologist by original training, lecturing early on at Imperial College in plant pathology and also working as a senior scientific officer in Uganda and Kenya for what was then the UK Ministry for Overseas Development. From later lecturing in environmental science he moved to Peace Studies at Bradford University in 1979 where he has been since, working primarily on the changing causes of international conflict, especially in relation to socio-economic divisions and environmental limits to growth. He is international security adviser to Open Democracy where he writes a weekly column, and is a frequent broadcaster.   A fourth edition of his 2000 book, Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century, was be published by Pluto Press, London, in July 2021.

Tuesday December 6th 2022 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Dr Rachael Unsworth, Remaking Leeds in the 21st century. What does ‘green growth’ really mean? And to what extent is it happening in Leeds? 


Evidence mounted during the 20th century that human beings were putting unbearable pressure on the Earth’s ability to support us. The United Nations ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992 set out ways in which we could address the related problems of over-intensive resource use – with its consequent environmental damage – and uneven economic opportunities. We could shift towards sustainability by integrating economy, environment and society, with lower resource throughput, ecological protection and repair, and greater social justice ... by the year 2020.

Leeds was designated ‘Environment City’ around the time of that hopeful meeting in Rio. How far has the city travelled towards sustainability? What are its strengths and its main opportunities? Where are the weaknesses, barriers and brakes? We now have plentiful evidence of threats. Can enough of the right kind of change happen fast enough to ensure that we fully play our part in remaking the economy and society in a way that will ensure long-term thriving here and in the wider world?


Rachael Unsworth is an urban geographer fascinated by the long-term evolution of cities, including prospects for the future. After a geography degree and PhD from the University of Cambridge, she became Head of Research for a firm of surveyors in London. It was during this time that she started to be actively concerned about human impact on the environment and to pick up on the efforts to make a difference.

Back in Yorkshire from the mid-1990s, she was a part-time lecturer at the University of Leeds until 2013, specialising in urban development and the geography of natural resources. From around 2000 she became involved in research, policy and practice in the city of Leeds: planning, urban design, development and regeneration, housing and environment. Publications include ‘21st century Leeds: geographies of a regional city’ (published 2004) and ‘Leeds: Cradle of Innovation’ (published 2018), which featured a few examples of moves towards a greener future.

Since 2019 Rachael has been running* Leeds City Walking Tours, taking groups of locals, visitors and professionals on a range of tours and also offering online presentations.

Tuesday November 1st 2022 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Professor David Glew, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Sustainabilility Institute – ‘How can retrofit help with the current energy crisis and reaching net zero?   housing’ 

Click here to download a copy of a of David's presentation slides


Retrofitting our homes has never been more important than it is today in the back drop of the Ukraine war and the fuel bill crisis, with 5 million homes at risk of fuel poverty, and the desire to achieve climate change and net zero targets. Professor Glew, will provide an overview of how our homes hold a unique place in the solutions to many of the problems societies are currently facing He will discuss how we are retrofitting our homes in the UK, and what impact this is having nationally and for individual householders. He will discuss his research into the benefits and risks associated with retrofitting homes, specifically looking at what is happening in Leeds and West Yorkshire, and how recent global events have fundamentally changed the economics of making our homes more energy efficient. He will also discuss some of the LSI’s related research projects, which look into how to standardise the way we measure the benefits of retrofitting on a neighbourhood scale, as well as looking into householder views around switching to low carbon heating in the form of hydrogen and heat pumps.





















Professor Glew is Head of Energy Efficiency and Policy at the Leeds Sustainability Institute. He manages large interdisciplinary retrofit evaluation projects for the LSI, including undertaking Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) field tests, evaluation in use monitoring of energy and indoor air quality including smart meter data, as well as investigate the potential for behaviour change methods to improve occupant comfort and reduce instances of damp, and performing hygrothermal and energy modelling of buildings. David is an established expert in retrofit evaluation, he was seconded into Government (BEIS) and is still often called upon for guidance on issues facing domestic energy efficiency policy and research, he is also a regular contributor to national and local TV and Radio and has appeared on podcasts on domestic energy efficiency and retrofit related issues.

His major research projects have included; the Leeds Core Cities Green Deal investigations into retrofit performance; an investigation in to risks and benefits on thin internal wall insulation (TIWI) ; and one of the UK’s largest single retrofit research project undertaken

Tuesday 4th October 2022 at the Chapel Allerton Methodist Church, Town Street, LS7 4NB (entrance is opposite the Methodist Centre) @7.30pm: Roger Hawkin - ‘The Future Design of UK Housing'.

Click here to download a copy of a of Roger's presentation slides


This talk will focus and describe the shocking scale of our current housing crisis. It will start with a brief overview of housing policy since 1919 and how policies, particularly in the last 50 years, have led to our current predicament. The talk will conclude by outlining a number of creative ideas on the future of housing design that could provide the decent and affordable housing that the UK so badly needs. 




Having moved from South Wales in 1967, Roger qualified as a Town and Country Planner in 1973 and was a Senior Planner in Leeds City Council. Roger became Assistant Director of Housing (Development) and played a critical role in Leeds’ Housing capital programme which included building 2000 houses, modernising 1400 LA houses and demolishing 2000 unfit properties every year. His division gave him a senior role working on the repair of Leeds’ 100,000 dwellings with a budget > £60M in today’s prices. Roger had a long and varied career, including spells as Hull’s Director of Housing & Environmental Health and in the voluntary sector, when he returned to Leeds to work at St Anne’s Shelter & Housing Action where he spent seven years developing new Hostels and Homes while learning about ‘life at the bottom’. Roger spent three years as a part-time student at Sheffield Business School, completing an MBA, and joined the Business School as a Senior Lecturer in Strategy where he spent 11 happy years until retirement in 2001.

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