YEP 2016 in review: Brexit vote, food poverty and the tragedy of Jo Cox

JUNE 2016: Counting gets underway at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
JUNE 2016: Counting gets underway at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Your YEP takes a look back at what was making the news in May and June 2106.

MAY

* People in Leeds had a fright when a sonic boom reverberated across the city, shaking houses and rattling windows.

The explosion-like sound was caused by a pair of RAF Typhoon jets which had been scrambled to intercept a suspicious plane.

* Hundreds of children took part in a charity fun run organised to celebrate the memory of much-missed Leeds schoolteacher Ann Maguire.

Held on playing fields behind St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School in Seacroft, the event raised £10,000 for charities including the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund.

* New figures laid bare the alarming scale of the food poverty problems facing families in Leeds.

The Yorkshire Evening Post revealed that the number of people in the city seeking assistance from selected food banks and charities to find their next meal had risen by nearly 25 per cent since the start of 2014.

* The council elections saw Labour maintaining a firm grip on political power in Leeds.

The results also left the party with more women councillors than men for the first time ever.

Among the girl power winners was Salma Arif, who took the Gipton and Harehills ward with nearly 4,000 votes.

* The Government’s scrapping of plans for a trolleybus transport scheme in Leeds triggered a wave of anger and recriminations.

City council leader Coun Judith Blake accused “successive governments” of letting Leeds down over public transport.

Ministers said £170m that had been set side for trolleybus would remain available for transport schemes in the city.

* Down’s syndrome sufferer Vernon Knight’s 70th birthday celebrations warmed the hearts of YEP readers.

Vernon, originally from Pool in Wharfedale, was described as “loving, caring and very gentle with it” by cousin Keith Shuttleworth.

* Police in Leeds seized nearly 100 canisters of nitrous oxide – more commonly known as laughing gas – as a ban on legal highs came into force.

Officers removed the canisters from a shop in Harehills after the ban criminalised the production and sale of psychoactive substances that mimic the effects of controlled drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy.

* Leeds’s Nicola Adams confirmed her reputation as the golden girl of boxing by completing her set of major tournament medals.

The Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games champion beat Peamwilai Laopeam of Thailand to claim her first World Championship gold flyweight title in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

JUNE

* The month’s local headlines were dominated by the shocking murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox outside one of her regular constituency surgeries in Birstall.

Mother-of-two Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed by far right fanatic Thomas Mair, despite the heroic efforts of witness Bernard Carter Kenny who went to her aid. Her murder prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying: “This is absolutely tragic and dreadful news and my thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan, their two children and wider family. We’ve lost a great star. She had a big heart and people are going to be very, very sad at what has happened.”

* Garry Monk became the seventh head coach during Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino’s turbulent time at Elland Road.

Asked about his early dealings with the Italian businessman, Monk said: “He wants to work with me. I felt a really good connection straight away with him and everyone at this club in a short space of time.”

* Thousands of lovers of good grub descended on Millennium Square in Leeds for The Yorkshire Post Food and Drink Show 2016.

The event included live cookery demonstrations, tasters from top restaurants and more than 100 exhibitors showcasing the best of the region’s produce and cuisine.

* A landmark appeal to raise £10m for a specialist cancer centre at St James’s Hospital in Leeds reached its target.

Hailing the success of the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal, Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ Charitable Foundation chairman Edward Ziff said: “Today marks a great achievement – by the people of Yorkshire, for the people of Yorkshire.”

* Leeds strengthened its reputation as one of the country’s sporting capitals with its high-profile hosting of a stage of the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon.

Top-level athletes including Leeds’s own Alistair and Jonny Brownlee tackled a gruelling swim in Roundhay Park’s Waterloo Lake before a bike race took them into the city centre for the event’s climactic 10km run.

* Public transport users faced widespread disruption during walkouts by around 1,000 drivers and other staff at First Leeds, the city’s biggest bus operator.

The strikes at First’s Bramley and Hunslet Park depots were linked to a dispute over pay.

* Leeds found itself at odds with the country as a whole as it voted, albeit narrowly, against Brexit in the era-defining EU referendum. Leeds residents cast 50.3 per cent of their votes in favour of Remain on a day when 18 of the 21 regional council areas whose results were processed in the city backed Leave.

* Hundreds of people lined the streets of Leeds to proudly salute the country’s servicemen and women on Armed Forces Day.