Leeds sex zone 'out of control', say residents

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Leeds protest
Image caption,
Residents of the Holbeck area are protesting about the managed sex zone close to their homes

Residents living near a managed red-light zone in Leeds have said they will protest every two weeks until the sex trade is moved.

People living in the Holbeck area said they had been plagued by anti-social behaviour since the zone was set up.

The area aims to protect sex workers from abuse and supporters of it said the women that used it felt "safer".

About 30 people took to the roadside on Tuesday to protest about the use of the area by people in the sex trade.

"I've come down with the rest of the community just to make everybody aware of how bad it actually is living with the managed approach [to prostitution]," resident and local business owner Laura Walton said.

"It's meant to be within a certain time and in a certain place away from residential areas but it's not.

"It's happening 24-hours a day, outside people's houses, in parks, in all the public areas, so we see it constantly."

Image caption,
Norma West described the managed zone as "disgraceful"

Gemma Sciré of Basis Yorkshire, a charity that provides safety advice and support for sex workers in Leeds, said the women had told her they felt "safer".

"Women are safer, we get to see them and they gain access to all sorts of support and that's a lot better," she added.

"A small minority of the women have very complex needs and we have struggled to get access to them, they are often the ones in conflict with residents," she said.

However, protester Norma West described the managed zone as "a disgrace".

"They're all over the place, it's not under control, my husband's been pulled up by them, my son has, you know, it's getting out of control."

In a statement, Leeds City Council said: "Residents, businesses and all interested parties can be fully assured that the work undertaken as part of the managed approach is under continuous review as we seek an evidence base to ensure it is meeting our aims as far as is possible.

"If this is not the case, further steps will be taken and further options considered as appropriate as part of the ongoing process."

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