Friday, 6 January 2012

Welcome to Bradfordia

I like Bradford city centre and I am interested in making it a better place, do you feel the same? 

What feeling inspired my will to want to do something in Bradford? A walk around the city centre at the start of December just made me think of how much of the city centre was a bit of a waste, it should be so much better.  So I thought that people should do something about this and I wondered if people had already, so I emailed around a few people, including the City Ward Councillors and other key ‘stakeholders’.  I was grateful to get responses from the City Centre Manager and Insight with Passion (more on that later) and the Civic Society, but I have received no other responses.

Kirkgate, Bradford

People are so quick to be negative about the city. It’s got things wrong with it and it’s easier to point these out and use them as reasons for why the city is such a bad place than to even contemplate addressing these negative issues.  Some people will blame everything on the council, even things out of the council’s control.  The Council can’t do everything, nor do they control every aspect of the city centre, but they might be more willing to listen and act on things if people engage with them properly and helpfully.  People coming together as an organisation could itself lead to positive changes, such as the formation of a development trust or a co-operative.

Recent media articles on the city don’t paint a positive picture:   The Sun  and The Guardian both featured the city centre in an article about Kate Hardcastle’s Insight With Passion firm’s Retail roadshows, which are seeking to provide advice to the city’s retail sector.  The BBC also featured a report about the city centre’s vacant shops, with a particular retailer saying they were struggling and offered little help from the council.  The local press is often full of articles regarding the state of the city centre, including this one .  Nationally, the coverage of the Mary Portas review showed that people still care about their town and city centres.

So yes, you’ve read those above articles, we should give up now, right?  Bradford has a lot of opportunity – and to be honest, if I’m being positive about the city, ‘Bradford’ is always mentioned in the same sentence as the word ‘potential’.  The architecture of the city, the view out to the moors, the curry, the real ale, the museums, galleries, theatre and lots of other things mean there are some positives for the city, as celebrated on the Positive Bradford Day.

The Wool Exchange and New Market Place

There are strong feelings about the city centre, people still care about the city centre.  The City Centre Park development, along with the Odeon and Westfield developments / fiascos / projects / sagas have generated much discussion in the city… so I say; a lot of energy has gone into this and I say its time to harness this energy for the better.

Surely I’m not alone in wanting to make the city centre a better place, so the idea behind Bradfordia is to try and see if there are other like minded people out there who want to change things.  I chose the name Bradfordia, because its a somewhat affection name some people give to Bradford, I googled the name and found out that it was a name for some kind of Fossil, that isn't some kind of whacky irony going on, just a coincidence.

So, where should one begin this search for the soul of the centre of Bradford and think about what can be done?  Hold on to your hats, here comes the SWOT analysis*.  OPPORTUNITIES is the most important part, that is where a real difference can be made to the city.

*The SWOT analysis will appear back-to-front, because I wanted it to be in order as one scrolled down the page.

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