Trust recognises man dedicated to slum clearance

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A MAN who drove through a massive and highly controversial programme of inner city slum clearance in Leeds is to be honoured.

On Sunday, members of Leeds Civic Trust, will unveil one of its historic blue plaques to mark the contribution of the Rev Charles Jenkinson to the city.

The plaque is to go on St John and St Barnabas Church, Belle Isle Road, Leeds, where he moved his congregation to from Holbeck. It will be unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Rev Alan Taylor, during the morning service.

Dr Kevin Grady, Director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: “Charles Jenkinson was a very controversial figure in his day, his housing policies were described as ‘The Red Ruin of Leeds.’

“He joined the Council in 1930 with an absolute determination to better the housing conditions of working class people, like his parishioners, who were living in the inner city slums of Leeds. The results of his relentless zeal were the groundbreaking provision of the internationally famous Quarry Hill Flats and the greenfield council housing estates around Leeds.

“Through this work and his subsequent chairmanship of Stevenage New Town Development Corporation, he became a figure of national stature in the sphere of housing improvement.

“The plaque is being placed on the church of St John and St Barnabas, Belle Isle, because he moved here with his parishioners when they were decanted from the slums of Holbeck to the newly-built Belle Isle Council housing estate.”

Mr Jenkinson, encouraged by a growing concern within the Church of England about the plight of slum-dwellers, gained election as a Labour councillor for the North Holbeck Ward to the local council in November 1930.

Under the energetic leadership of Jenkinson, as first chairman of the new housing committee, the council succeeded in meeting the initial ambitious target of re-housing some 6,000 slum-dwellers in two years.

The most contentious and ambitious aspect of the programme was a differential rent scheme which proved enormously beneficial to poorer tenants. His rent policy and plan to build council houses in middle class areas encountered bitter opposition from some quarters with the conservatives accusing Labour of the ‘Red Ruin of the City.’