The local media, this week, carried a story about the historic Goldsmith's leaving the city centre, when in recent weeks Toymaster have left James Street and Bon Marche's Broadway store was not one of the lucky ones and didn't figure in that chain's rescue plan. Goldsmith's is of course the most emotive of these closures because it is part of the legacy of the original Fattorini's Jewelers, where the FA Cup and Rugby League Challenge Cup originated.
Of course, the Council and Chamber of Trade both want to see an improved city centre. Cllr David Green's comments "I think over the next few months there will be more announcements from the Council to show that we are getting there." don't inspire much confidence in the city centre, but obviously the Council want the city centre to improve.
Val Summerscales' comments delays to the Westfield scheme hurting the centre cannot be escaped, this is a major issue that is blighting areas of the city centre. Parking charges are a sensitive issue, but I can see no evidence to suggest that Bradford's parking and enforcement is any worse than other cities. Parking needs to be charged for to manage demand, it also costs money to pay for parking attendants and business rates for parking spaces. Parking could definitely be more flexible though, so free parking in the late afternoons or pay on exit provision made.
So the Council want a better city centre, the Chamber of Trade do too. Retailers would like a better city centre, as it means more business for them. Landlords want a better city centre because it means more rental income for them. Residents of the city centre want a better city centre, because they want to be proud of where they live. There needs to be debate on how this is done, different people need to make concessions (parking is a classic example, but rental income also is), but there is a great need for people in the city centre to work together.
Following the Portas Review, the Government has announced to make £1m of funding available for twelve pilot schemes to carry out some of the ideas. A town team in Bradford would allow all these different people to come together and send out a strong message needs to be sent out that Bradford is a good place for people to do business. The cash injection is likely to be less than £100k, but this could be money that is used to help facilitate different people to work together.
One organisation attacking the council, the council making vague annoucements and the lack of confidence and empowerment isn't doing anyone good, so lets get to work!