Who are you? What do you sell? People say Bradford is so bad now that they don't even bother coming into shop, they'll head straight to other neighbouring cities. So they're not even walking past your shops in the first place. Where is your online presence? Are you on Twitter? I haven't seen many of you yet. How much does it cost to set up a blog like this? £0, Twitter account £0 - you could even all do one collectively. Or tell me things to put on here, or other sites like Bradford Buzz.
Things are so much cheaper online, people don't want to pay 60p to park in the city centre - but you're in the city centre already, so what's so special about coming to you instead of online, even if you're not the cheapest? How do we know you have a specialist knowledge? How do you demonstrate great quality customer service? What does great customer service cost to implement? You could even host an event for a small cost, maybe even do that collectively? Do you talk to one another?
Chamber of Trade
To be honest, I'm a little confused about the difference between The Chamber of Trade and Chamber of Commerce, apart from the latter has a much better website. The Chamber of Trade's website hasn't been updated since 2003. Maybe the Chamber of Trade could have a City Centre Retail competition? Best customer service, best shop front, innovater of the year? I don't know, do they do this already? Then they need to shout louder.
I know the Chamber of Trade don't like Car Parking. On street parking is more expensive in Huddersfield and Halifax, the independent retail scene appears to be more thriving there - what is the difference to Bradford? Is it more fundamental than car parking and do the retailers and Chamber of Trade have a role to play themselves?
The council collect lots of data, monitoring shop occupancy and footfall - how do they share this with retailers? Car Parking is an issue in the city centre - do the council have any data about how many people actually travel to the centre by car and how does this compare with neighbouring cities? Do people overstate the problem of car parking tickets? Parking enforcement is a source of income to the authority, but this needs to be measured against the attractiveness of the city centre. The centre has a myriad of bus lanes, areas with different parking restrictions applying - how can these be communicated more effectively? The council website has easy to find information about off street parking, but what about where you can drive or where you can park on the street? Even if parking wasn't free at somewhere like Meadowhall, how do you think they would communicate such information to visitors?
The Council and The Police
Does the council have an alcohol exclusion zone? Why do I see people drinking super strength lager in the street every night if they do? Why when I go out on a night am I being asked for 'spare change mate'? It doesn't bother me so much, I see it a lot in other cities, but it seems more frequent in Bradford and this presents a very poor image, especially at night when there aren't many other people around.
Property Owners and Others
The topic of pop up shops has been debated at great length. Some artwork from schools went up at the bottom of Darley Street - it looked good, less so six months later. There's some great photos online of different parts of Bradford, some great photographers, some great architectural heritage in the city to celebrate, this would cost relatively little and make empty shops look a bit more presentable, so why not? These could take on a bigger role for more formal events, like the International Film Festival.
Large groups of shops are vacant, like on Market Street and at the Rawson Quarter. If the Fabric scheme at Zavvi is going to be a place for budding retailers to set up shop, where do they go after that? Property owners could offer reduced rents to businesses who've come through the Fabric scheme or such schemes, who could receive business plan advice from the Chamber of Commerce / Chamber of Trade, or from the College or even from the Council. Could people like Spacemakers Agency help? There's likely to be financial pressures in Local Government in the coming years, but assitance could be provided to fit out shops, as it has down in Rotherham. What is the reason why landlords should receive a lower rent, instead of no rent at all plus business rates?
A lot of questions here, what are the answers?