TV doctor wants children to think big in Bradford

By Dave Baldwin

With his cheerful style and approachable manner, Dr Amir Khan is helping to change audience perceptions of medicine through his starring role in the recent TV show GPs Behind Closed Doors. The Bradford family doctor is also a lively and positive presence on social media.

In a recent post, Dr Khan relayed the following story: “Saw a young boy today who said he wanted to be a doctor but said people from ‘round here’ don’t get to be doctors. I told him: I grew up round the corner from here. Dad was a bus driver, Mum started as a cleaner and seamstress. If I can do it, so can you – just work hard.”

The best thing about social media is the ability to share inspiring messages such as these. In response, Kersten England, the chief executive of Bradford Council, said: “Couldn’t agree more. In Bradford, we believe people can start anywhere and go everywhere. We want all our children to have dreams and ambition and support to achieve them. Thank you for playing your part. It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

It certainly does. At the Bradford Economic Partnership, we are working hard to grow our district economy, generate new employment opportunities and improve the skills of residents. We have made some great progress to date by creating thousands of new jobs and increasing wages but some big challenges remain, especially in health and wellbeing.

Bradford is the sixth largest city in the UK with a multi-ethnic population of more than 500,000 people. We know that parts of the district have considerable levels of deprivation and some of the highest rates of childhood illness in the UK. For the young boy in Dr Khan’s story to succeed, he needs to have a healthy start in life.

This is why the Born in Bradford project is so important. It is working to unravel the reasons for ill health and bring new scientific discovery to the world. It is also providing a catalyst for communities to work with the NHS and local authority to improve child health and wellbeing. The project is following the progress of 30,000 Bradford families to find out what influences the health and wellbeing.

The discoveries are potentially scalable. The Glasses for Classes programme is just one example of impact: pupils aged four to five in 100 primary schools across England are now taking part in a research trial to improve maths and reading skills through the provision of eyewear. It is estimated that 2,500 children in Bradford need glasses but aren’t wearing them, which is affecting their educational attainment.

Born in Bradford is one of the largest research studies in the world and is attracting international attention as well as investment (£30m and counting to date). Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the £26bn research charity Wellcome Trust, will be visiting the district later this month to launch the Born in Bradford scientific festival. Taking place at Salts Mill in Saltaire on September 27, the festival will share new findings about how society, lifestyles, genes and the environment shape our lives.

The health and social care sector offers many employment opportunities in our district. The new Industrial Centre of Excellence for Health and Social Care is giving 14-19 year-olds a taste of different vocations in the sector and the vast potential for fulfilling and rewarding careers. Like many of the best things happening in Bradford, it is the result of partnership working; in this case between stakeholders including Bradford Council, local NHS trusts, social care providers, schools, colleges and the University of Bradford.

Bradford isn’t alone in facing big health and social care challenges. To entrepreneurs and innovators, these challenges present opportunities. The Digital Health Enterprise Zone at the university is linking academic research with business growth and supporting startups, SMEs and scale-ups in emerging fields such as digital health, data analytics and technology-enabled care. Innovations that are discovered and developed here can be rolled out across the world.

By working together, we will help reduce health inequalities, create new business and employment opportunities and give everyone the chance to succeed in life, like the young boy at Dr Khan’s practice who dreamed of being a doctor but thought it wasn’t for him. * Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Challenger bank chooses Bradford for new opening

By Dave Baldwin

Metro Bank is bringing its “revolution in British banking” to Bradford. The challenger bank said its new outpost will combine face-to-face banking with state-of-the-art technology, providing residents and businesses with a customer-focused and convenient banking experience. It is one of two Metro openings planned for Yorkshire, the other being in Sheffield. Metro refers to them as stores, rather than branches, emphasising perhaps a point of difference on the retail approach.

The lender launched in 2010 and has taken its time to expand beyond London. Earlier this year, it received a helping hand from Banking Competition Remedies, the fund set up by RBS to increase competition in business banking as a condition of its taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. Metro said the £120m award would bring much-needed competition to the underserved SME hotspots in the North while investing in digital capabilities and creating new jobs.

Its investment research into Bradford will have revealed a thriving and diverse economy worth £10.1bn with fertile conditions for growth: the best business rate relief, value for money in commercial space rent, job vacancies and road infrastructure (all helpfully identified by Barclays in naming us the best city in Britain to start a business). The district is home to 18,000 VAT and PAYE-registered companies. More than 4,000 new start-ups formed last year. Each and every one of these businesses needs modern and responsive financial services to support its ambitions, which their current lenders may or may not be providing.

SME banking needs are changing fast, which is why the Government and regulators are keen to encourage more competition in the financial services sector. The big five banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Santander – have traditionally dominated the UK market but challengers like Metro, Starling and Tide are providing an alternative for the new generation of business owners who expect innovation in their financial services. 

Metro’s Bradford store will be at the former Five Guys restaurant – one online wag commented you needed finance to buy a burger there – next to the Broadway shopping centre. Fast food will make way for fast banking with customers able to visit without appointment and open personal or business accounts on the spot and leave with debt card in hand along with internet and mobile banking set up.

Craig Donaldson, chief executive officer at Metro Bank, said: “Bringing the banking revolution to Yorkshire is a real milestone for Metro Bank. We’re thrilled to be arriving in these two cities next year.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford council, added: “It’s great to see Metro Bank choose Bradford as one of its first locations in the region. The city is home to so many successful SMEs and Metro Bank have obviously recognised this with their new investment.”

The Bradford and Sheffield stores will create around 50 new jobs. Bradford has a strong financial and professional services sector with nearly 9,500 people employed in banking, insurance, fund management, accountancy, management consultancy and legal services, according to lobby group TheCityUK. That’s more than six per cent of the total workforce. We are home to major financial institutions including Provident Financial, Yorkshire Building Society and UK Asset Resolution and specialists such as Ecology Building Society, Al Rayan Bank and Atrium Financial. PwC, the global professional services giant, opened an assurance centre in the city earlier this year to tap into our talent pool.

Bradford is steeped in financial services with expertise dating back to its prominent role in the Industrial Revolution. Early lenders such as Bradford Old Bank, founded by woolstaplers in 1803, and Bradford Commercial Joint Stock Banking Co, founded with capital of £1.5m in 1833, helped lay the foundations for the banking industry as we recognise it today and became constituents of Barclays and RBS.

Metro will join a strong and growing sector of financial and professional services companies invested in Bradford. Competition is healthy for any market place and our SMEs should benefit from the introduction of new products and services tailored around their changing needs. Metro’s eye-catching blue, red and white branding will also be a welcome addition to the city centre. Just don’t call it a branch.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Bradford’s home to some of most inspiring architecture in Britain

By Dave Baldwin

Back in the days when money was no object, our Victorian forebears built a city that befitted its status as the world capital of the wool trade. Walk around Bradford today and everywhere you look there are abundant reminders of this proud and illustrious past. We have a wealth of heritage buildings. Architectural commentators call it “good bone structure”. This is a handsome legacy and it offers enormous potential for growth in the future.

Bradford has one of the most inspiring built environments in Britain. We have seized this opportunity and our distinctive offer is one of four central themes in our 2018-2030 economic growth strategy. We are using these unique assets to create compelling investment propositions and an environment for growth. To this end, Bradford Council wants to increase the supply of land for business use and is calling on agents, landowners and developers to put forward sites that might be suitable for future employment.

There are deals to be done. The council has identified the need to create 60 hectares of land suitable for business use to help fulfil our growth strategy. This would include offices, research and development facilities and general industrial use such as manufacturing and production. Our businesses need room to grow. Research shows there is particularly strong demand for good quality employment space in four hotspots across the district: east and north Keighley, Wharfedale and north, north east and south east Bradford.

The time is coming for Bradford and our diverse, modern and sustainable economy. Two decades into the 21st century, we have a young and growing labour force. SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy, the third largest in Yorkshire. We are also the location for a number of big players with well-known brands operating on a global scale. Bradford is home to many successful creative, cultural and tourism-based enterprises. The call for employment sites will strengthen this promising position.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “This is a vital piece of work for us, so that we can identify land for future economic growth and ensure we can deliver the 1,600 jobs per annum the district needs. We’re keen to work with landowners and developers to map out potential sites and be clear about where development could take place in future.”

Marianne McCallum, chair of Bradford Chamber of Commerce Property Forum, said: “It’s clear that, in order for Bradford’s business community to fulfil its potential and play a full part in our economic growth, that more good quality sites are needed. We urge agents, landowners and any others who can play a part, to come forward with potential land sites that can be considered for future development. Bradford is on an upward trajectory and landowners can support that by making sites available now.”

Too right Bradford is on its way up. Transactions will follow as investors wake up to this fact. Interested parties must submit sites for consideration by September 24 when consultation closes on the next stage of the council’s core strategy. All sites put forward will be assessed for suitability, availability and deliverability and the usual planning rules and permissions will apply.

Bradford is no longer the world capital of the wool trade. But the investments in infrastructure made by our forebears stand us in good stead today. We have an abundance of buildings of architectural and historical interest. Many date back to the time of the Industrial Revolution when Bradford was a global pioneer. Regenerated, revitalised and reinvigorated for the coming generations of business and civic entrepreneurs, they will set the stage for our future success.

* Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Hosting UK City of Culture 2025 would be brilliant for Bradford

By Dave Baldwin

Put simply, hosting the UK City of Culture in 2025 would be brilliant for Bradford. Our district is undergoing substantial regeneration. Business and civic leaders are working together for the greater good and making strong progress with our ambitious economic growth strategy. People are seeing Bradford in a different way.

Take Hull as an example. As UK City of Culture in 2017, the East Yorkshire port city staged more than 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions, winning a total audience of 5.3m people. Preliminary evaluation shows the East Yorkshire city generated £300m in tourism revenues and won nearly £220m in inward investment.

The feel-good factor can never be underestimated. Three in four Hull residents said they felt proud to live in the city. One in four local businesses added new staff and one in five extended opening hours. Hull attracted more than 20,000 items of national media coverage. The University of Hull, which carried out the evaluation, said the experience “left audiences with an overwhelmingly positive impression of the city”.

Bradford is twice the size of Hull (which has generously voiced its support for our bid). Imagine the impact that hosting the UK City of Culture could have on our district. We certainly have a strong case to make. We are home to the National Science and Media Museum. Our cultural heritage includes the Brontës, JB Priestley and David Hockney and we recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of being named the first UNESCO City of Film.

Bradford is brimming with new talent. Home-grown arts organisations including England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, Bradford Literature Festival, female-led theatre collective Common Wealth, intercultural arts hub Kala Sangam, Bradford Community Broadcasting and an emerging new generation of cultural voices successfully engaging new audiences. This fact was not lost on Channel 4 which cited the city’s young, diverse and digitally-savvy communities as one of the reasons for moving its national HQ to West Yorkshire.

We have the infrastructure to stage an ambitious programme of international events. The city is home to some exceptional large-scale venues, notably the Grade II-listed St George’s Hall which recently underwent a £9.5m restoration project, and Bradford Live, the former 1930s Odeon which will reopen in 2020-21 as a world-class entertainment facility.

Our arts institutions are winning headlines for innovative and influential work. Theatre in the Mill, which has just been named as one of two national pilots for an Arts Council talent programme, is regarded as one of the most exciting companies in the North of England. Throw in Bradford’s wealth of public spaces, parks and heritage buildings and we can offer a truly spectacular canvas for events in 2025.

Reaction to Bradford’s intention to bid has been very encouraging. Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, tweeted: “I’m thrilled to see that @Bradford2025 has thrown their hat into the ring for UK City of Culture. It’s a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on the cultural heritage and bright future of #NorthernPowerhouse cities.”

Sabbiyah Pervez, the BBC journalist behind the We Are Bradford storytelling project, said: “Bradford is a vibrant, culturally diverse and young city with incredible potential. The talent here is inexhaustible so much so that you will find people creating opportunities for themselves in every corner despite their limited resources; it is for this reason Bradford was named best place in the UK to start a business.

“It’s a city of pioneers past and present, with a rich history of migration and social activism. This makes it a unique contender in this bid to become Capital of Culture.”

Amir Hussain, the founder of Yeme Architects, said: “The city’s rich architectural heritage profoundly reflects an illustrious past and sets the tone of aspiration. A ‘ring of culture’ surrounding the city has naturally evolved through a vibrant, young population that seeks to manifest its presence in the city.

“We believe the bid process and winning the title will vastly enhance this activity and will serve to create a more inclusive city as the inherent broad diversity can be better celebrated.”

Mary Dowson, director of BCB Radio and interim bid chair, said: “Our UK City of Culture bid presents a brilliant opportunity for us to showcase not only the incredible home-grown talent we have here in Bradford, but to create a legacy which improves opportunities for local people and promotes the city as a fantastic place to live, work and enjoy.

“Over the next few months we’ll be working hard to develop new partnerships and build a strong programme for the bid to include local, national and international events. We’re positive we can deliver a successful and spectacular year of culture in 2025, now we want the city to get behind us too.”

Final bids will be submitted in 2021 and the Government will anoint the winner later that year. It would be brilliant for Bradford.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Bradford’s starring role in Cricket World Cup success

By Dave Baldwin

A week or so after England’s miraculous Cricket World Cup victory, the Yorkshire-born spin bowler Adil Rashid was visiting his local mosque in Bradford. There he found cricket fans overjoyed at the success of their home-grown hero. After posing for selfies with young supporters at Masjid Umar, the 31-year-old told the BBC: “They’re seeing someone from this area who has made something for themselves and achieved something massive. There is hope there for them. He has done it and so can we. If I can be an inspiration to the youngsters – or anyone for that matter – then I have done my job.”

This is an important message. For a young person of South Asian heritage in Bradford, where social mobility can be a challenge, having a role model like Adil Rashid can be a powerful motivating force.

There is another important message to be found in England’s cricketing success: the contribution made by diversity. Mr Rashid said: “For us as a team, being so diverse – with myself, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes – it shows how we can come together and unite and play under the England banner. Unity can achieve so many things. We want to give the message that regardless of race, religion or colour, we have to respect everyone and be 100 per cent committed to what you want to do.”

Solid sentiments from Mr Rashid, who made history in 2006 when he became the first Yorkshireman of Pakistani heritage to represent Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He went on to launch the Adil Rashid Cricket Academy with his brother Amar in Bradford in 2012 to prepare and nurture future cricket stars, particularly those from disadvantaged communities.

Inspiration is one thing, infrastructure is another. It can be difficult to realise your ambitions if you don’t have access to good facilities, especially in urban areas. In this respect, the ongoing redevelopment of Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground is encouraging news. Established in 1880, the site was considered one of the great spiritual homes of cricket, hosting 306 first-class matches up until 1996 and regularly attracting crowds of 25,000 fans. It officially reopened in 2017 following a multi-million pound investment with eight new artificial practice wickets and a community pavilion.

A spokesman for YCCC told us: “We are optimistic that with new funding in 2020, we will be able to look at the next phases of the regeneration of Park Avenue. This will include a new pavilion and urban cricket centre. We continue to work in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board, Government and Bradford Council to continue the regeneration of the famous old cricket ground. The ground continues to be used more and more by girls and boys, men and women from within the local community. We are very optimistic about its long-term future.”

Cricket is a great leveller. Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, senior independent director at the ECB and a long-standing champion of our district, is trying to increase the number of British Asians getting into the game through the South Asian action plan he launched a year ago. The public health pioneer grew up playing cricket in the streets and on the pitches of Bradford in 1960s and credits the game for giving him the confidence, connections and opportunities to meet people outside his community and develop lifelong friendships.

The ECB’s plan aims to engage more effectively with South Asian communities to draw more players, fans and volunteers into every level of the game. It covers recreational cricket, talent development and retention, attendance, administration and culture and facilities and is targeting 10 core cities, including Bradford. There is a sound business case for the plan: research shows South Asian communities contribute 18 per cent of the cricketing economy.

We know sport has huge economic benefits. According to Sport England, it generates in excess of £20bn in GVA every year and supports more than 400,000 full-time jobs. There are countless wider benefits for society, not least the happiness and wellbeing of those taking part, improved health and education, reduced crime, community development and increased volunteering. Above all, watching sporting success together creates a feel-good factor like no other: it’s called national pride. I’m proud that Bradford – which can claim another World Cup winner in Jonny Bairstow – is playing its part with these stories of inspiration, diversity and regeneration.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club