The Council have announced a £7.7m scheme, 'Get Bradford Working' which according to the Council will "provide approximately 390 new jobs, 400 new apprenticeships, 300 work experience placements, 600 qualifications, 525 sustained job outcomes and 5 new studio schools with 1500 school places linked to business" . This aims to get more workers qualified and will create around 350 intermediate jobs, which is indeed a commendable effort. There are over 19,000 jobseekers allowance claimaints, over 4,000 of these for a year or more in the district, so whilst it is a welcome initiative, it is not a solution to the 'worklessness' affecting the district. Furthermore, the funding runs for two years, so it is a concern how the efforts into tackling unemployment and stimulating the economy will be sustained.
To create jobs, help improve the image of the city centre (and other centres in the district) there are other approaches that could be pursued. Some of these would of course require a whole new pot of regeneration cash, others less so and others would require the co-operation of property owners and other organisations in the city.
Over the border, Kirklees Council are offering free 'taster' market stalls and are running a competition for prospective stallholders to have a free stall for a longer period of time, at Queensgate market, above. This would be easy for the council to implement, because the stalls are in their ownership. Another idea, perhaps requiring more cash, would be to a run a scheme with the owner of vacant retail property. The shop owner gets a discounted fit out on their store, on condition they give discounted rent to a shopkeeper for a prolonged period of time. This idea could indeed go beyond retail property and to many of the city's large mill buildings, such as those in Goitside below, which could be used for creative purposes or even large buildings in the city centre such as Sunwin House and the Highpoint building. A city centre property trust, as explored in the DIY regeneration post could be another way to get such property back into positive use.
Such schemes to bring property back into use would create opportunities for employment and enterprise. It would help give Bradford a competitive edge to attract new business start ups and businesses relocating from other areas. A number of non-retail uses in shops such as bars and cafés would help make the city centre a more attractive place to live and perhaps revitalise the city centre residential market. This would hopefully improve the image of the city centre and make it a better proposition for national multiple retailers.
This may sound a bit visionary, but that's the point. Let's get Bradford working.