Seventeen arrested after mass brawl at Leeds community centre

Seventeen people have now been arrested after a mass brawl at a community centre in Leeds during an annual meeting on Saturday, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Chairs were thrown and attendees attacked one another, smashing windows and doors and causing significant damage to the interior of the Roundhay Road building.

Some men were reportedly armed with weapons including metal bars and machetes.
Problems persisted even after police, who cordoned off surrounding roads, got into the building to try to stop the incident, with rival groups continuing to confront each other and officers themselves coming under attack.

It is thought six people were injured in the incident.

Police said on Sunday they had locked up 13 people and stepped up patrols in the area to prevent further problems. A further four people have now been arrested.

Writing on Facebook, the Leeds inner east neighbourhood policing team said: “Both the local community and West Yorkshire Police refuse to accept such abhorrent violence, it has no place in our city.

“We echo calls already made from within the community for the small number involved to remain calm and to use dialogue to resolve any grievances.”

It is thought trouble started after a group of men arrived with weapons to disrupt the meeting, which was taking place days before a vote was due to be held to elect a new committee.

Chief Inspector Nik Adams, of Leeds district police, said: “A small number of neighbourhood PCs and PCSOs supporting a community event were faced with a violent incident involving large numbers of people during which they themselves came under attack. They quickly called in further officers to assist and within minutes brought the incident under control.

“The local neighbourhood policing team are continuing to work with those at the Bangladeshi Centre and the wider community to prevent further incidents and to provide reassurance.”

Ongoing dispute

The centre, which is used as a venue for functions, charity events and meetings, has been embroiled in an ongoing dispute about who should run it amid accusations over the finances.

Roger Harrington, a Leeds councillor for Gipton and Harehills, said the problems had their origin in tensions between Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, but had evolved into personal rivalries.

In recent months there has been growing unrest about who has the right to sit on the committee and who can vote, because of a disagreement about whether candidates and voters should live in the vicinity.

Coun Harrington said: “I hadn’t realised it would go this far. I’m very sad that these disputes rumble on because it doesn’t do the community any good.

“They have been given the use of the centre on a peppercorn rent and their main aim should be that it’s well run and well managed for the good of all.

“The more this sort of thing happens, the more they are in danger of the council saying, ‘You can’t have this any more, we don’t trust you’.”

Fellow ward councillor Arif Hussain has been in discussion with the rival groups at the centre in an attempt to resolve issues and ensure Wednesday’s election goes ahead peacefully.

He said: “It was very shocking to hear the news. It’s a concern for everyone – it’s a concern for the ward councillors and it should be a concern for police. I’m concerned about the future of the centre and the community.”

He said police would be needed to keep the peace if the election goes ahead as planned.

It is not the first time there has been violence at the centre. In August 2013, police were called after reports of a fight at Eid celebrations.

Anyone with information or video footage of the incident is asked to call Leeds CID via 101 or speak to one of the officers on patrol in the area.

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