Bradford’s new Lady Hale Court to support diversity

Bradford’s new Lady Hale Court to support diversity

By Dave Baldwin

It was a moment of high drama. Lady Hale, the President of the UK’s Supreme Court, drew breath before announcing that the Prime Minister had acted unlawfully when he advised the Queen to suspend Parliament. The decision catapulted Lady Hale – and the giant diamond spider brooch she wore on her lapel – onto the front pages and into the public consciousness.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since September 24 2019, but Lady Hale hasn’t changed much. Baroness Hale of Richmond, who grew up in North Yorkshire and has family connections to our district, was at the University of Bradford’s School of Law to officially open a new mock law court in her name. As the first woman President of the UK’s Supreme Court and a genuine trailblazer for equality and justice, it was a fitting honour.

Bradford’s School of Law was established in 2005 and has since graduated close to 2,000 aspiring legal eagles. It’s a small school, but prides itself on offering superb support and learning to its students with a real focus on skills training. The Lady Hale Court is a great addition for a great school. The university also wants the local community to have access to the room and experience the look and feel of a ‘real’ court.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Lady Hale said: “It’s very important that the diversity of those entering the legal profession is increased. Because the law is for everyone, and those who are administering the law should reflect everyone. It shouldn’t just be a narrow, so-called elite group of people. And so a place like Bradford, which is making real efforts towards social inclusion and being there for everyone, is a very valuable place.”

The university statistics speak for themselves: more than 70 per cent of students are from BAME backgrounds and more than 50 per cent of students are from the most socio-economically deprived areas.

Bradford was named University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2020 in the latest Times/Sunday Times university league table. The award was based on measures including numbers of mature and disabled students, those from non-selective state schools, from ethnic minorities and from the most deprived areas. “Bradford… offers lessons to the rest of British higher education on how to effectively embrace social diversity on campus,” said the guide.

Diversity is a great strength of my home city. Indeed, Prince William said he found Bradford “very intriguing” in this respect. We have a fantastic multicultural hub, bringing together people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. Black and minority ethnic communities make up 36 per cent of the city’s total population, and 153 different languages are spoken in schools in the district.

For the city to achieve its full potential, we need to ensure that everyone has the chance to contribute. In our annual review of progress of our economic growth strategy, I was particularly pleased that more BME women are in work than before – in the year to March 2019, it broke the 20,000 barrier – that number has doubled since 2010. I would hope to see more of the same when we look back on the current year. Inspiring female leaders from all backgrounds are pushing ahead and breaking down barriers.

Professor Shirley Congdon is an inspirational individual. As Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, she knows that the university has an important part to play in promoting equality and diversity.  Writing in the Yorkshire Post last summer, she spoke about everyone having the opportunity to go to university and challenging the structural issues in society that hold people back. Her plan is more engagement with small, medium and large companies in Bradford to help them become more productive. Better quality jobs and more work experience opportunities would drive social inclusion through economic growth.

Lady Hale is another leading the charge for equality – the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission and the first female to lead the most powerful court in the land, where she can take the Prime Minister to task. Speaking at the opening of the Lady Hale Court – this time wearing an eye-catching octopus brooch on her lapel – she spoke passionately about the need for all young people to have an opportunity to make best use of their talents. It was Yorkshire through and through – sensible, straight forward but with a touch of courtroom drama.

Picture credit: Tony Johnson / Yorkshire Post

Royal visit is stamp of approval for Bradford

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside Bradford City Hall

By Dave Baldwin

As royal visits go, this was near perfect. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in their first official engagement of the year, came to Bradford and saw at first hand some fine examples of the work taking place across our district to support and promote community cohesion.

Cheered on by enthusiastic crowds, William and Kate visibly enjoyed themselves as they met entrepreneurs, apprentices, charity workers, faith leaders and volunteers dedicated to improving quality of life in one of Britain’s most diverse cities.

“The diversity of Bradford has always been very intriguing,” Prince William is reported to have said. “I think what you are all doing to help each other and bring the community together is very powerful. You can see that communities are trying to come together, trying to help each other, get to know each other and that is really crucial.”

In this respect, Bradford leads Britain. After some difficult decades, the city is bouncing back and last year won the ‘Most Improved’ title in an influential report on social and economic growth. The prince added: “If we can replicate that more across the country then it can only be for good – bringing everybody together, which is the reason why we want to get round the UK now and see as many places in the UK we may not have been very much to, and try to understand some of the more complex challenges.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet young people at Bradford City Hall

The visit began at City Hall where the royal couple met with young people who had been noted for their work in the city. Their discussion covered mental health, drug dealing, video games, apprenticeships and women in engineering. Bradford Council chief executive Kersten England CBE said: “What struck me most was the immediate and easy rapport between the Duke and Duchess and the young people. Their Royal Highnesses were clearly impressed by the talent, passion and ambition in the room. The discussion was thoughtful and engaged, it didn’t shirk difficult topics but was upbeat and optimistic.”

Afterwards, they met business and civic leaders including myself, representatives from Bradford Chamber of Commerce and Adeeba Malik CBE, the deputy chief executive of Bradford-based charity QED. She told the prince: “Your trip to Pakistan, please don’t underestimate the importance of it. It was phenomenal. It was so powerful.” The Duke and Duchess visited Pakistan in October to celebrate the nation’s historic ties with Britain. The five-day tour was the first royal visit to the country since 2006. “We loved it,” said William.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at My Lahore in Bradford

The next stop was My Lahore restaurant, named after the food capital of Pakistan, where the prince and princess met students from Bradford College taking part in an apprenticeship scheme and made mango and kulfi milkshakes in the kitchen. They spoke with boxer Amir Khan, a friend of the restaurant owners, about his boxing foundation and mental health in sport.

The royal couple also visited the Khidmat Centre, where they joined a Better Start Bradford workshop, which uses music and play to support children’s social, emotional and physical development while supporting adult self esteem. Bradford baker Siama Ali presented the Duke and Duchess with a beautifully designed cake, adorned with royal portraits and Union Jack flags.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Khidmat Centre in Bradford

The final visit was to a workshop run by Near Neighbours, an organisation that brings together people in diverse communities to create relationships of trust and to help people transform their neighbourhoods. It summed up the theme of the visit. The Bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth, praised the Royal Family for “championing Christian-Muslim relationships well before it became fashionable”. He added: “The Royal Family have made it very clear all the way along that Britain is a nation for everyone, every religion, every culture. Her Majesty has done that, Prince Charles has done that and now we can see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will do that.”

A parting message came via social media from the official Kensington Palace account to an audience of 1.9m. It said simply, “Thank you Bradford!” and featured a video montage of their visit, which I think they enjoyed as much as we all did. Bradford succeeded in showing one of the most famous couples in the world a perfect example of a vibrant, confident and diverse modern place. We can consider this a royal stamp of approval for Britain’s most improved city.

Why people and businesses are choosing Bradford

One City Park artist's impression

By Dave Baldwin

People vote with their feet. In Bradford, we are seeing more people eating and drinking in the city centre after work. This spike in footfall – called “alive after five” – is all down to the office sector, according to BID manager Jonny Noble. “More Grade A offices are a no-brainer,” he said.

They are on their way. Muse Developments, the urban renewal specialist, has been chosen by Bradford Council to deliver a major new office building at City Park as part of the local authority’s wider regeneration of the city centre. The One City Park project will create a state-of-the-art and environmentally excellent building with 56,403 sq ft of Grade A space in the city centre.

David Wells, regional director at Muse Developments, said: “This development will form an important part of the council’s city centre masterplan and we will be delivering a best-in-class destination that attracts new occupiers to Bradford and reinforces the city centre as a fantastic location for business.”

It’s going to be a busy decade for Bradford. The £21m market project will provide the city centre with modern market facilities and help meet the challenge of the changing high street. A city village of 1,000 new homes and spaces for business is planned for the area in and around the Top of the Town. Forster Square train station is set to undergo a major redevelopment. All will improve the amenity of Bradford and encourage more people to work and live in the city centre.

Businesses are starting to look at Bradford in a different way. PwC chose Bradford city centre for its new UK assurance centre in a significant vote of confidence in the district and its talent pool. The global accountancy giant is creating up to 225 new white collar jobs at 5 Godwin Street, another Grade A office development. No doubt those new recruits will be contributing to that spike in footfall after work.

They have plenty of choice for places to go. The £260m Broadway Shopping Centre has established itself as one of the UK’s most successful retail and leisure destinations and is winning national recognition for its performance in areas like footfall, customer spend, dwell time and community engagement, campaigns such as Sparkling Bradford and its ability to attract new tenants. For those who like something a little different, the historic tunnels of Sunbridge Wells and its subterranean bars and venues are certainly “alive after five”.

Our city centre workers have spending power. Bradford saw the biggest growth in advertised salaries of any major city in the UK, according to research published last month by the job search engine adzuna.co.uk. Bradford salaries rose by 3.6 per cent last year, compared to declines in places like London, Manchester and Leeds. Adzuna said Bradford is “bucking the trend and showing strong growth”.

Employment is bouncing back after some tough years. Bradford enjoyed the largest improvement in the jobs score of any city in the UK between 2015 and 2018 with unemployment falling from 10 per cent to 4.1 per cent over the period, according to the Demos-PwC report on Good Growth. It also showed how more than 43 per cent of adults held at least an NVQ level 3 qualification in 2018, compared to 39 per cent in 2015. As a result, the report crowned Bradford as Britain’s most improved city.

Property investment is all about timing. Congratulations to Muse on being selected to bring forward the One City Park project. The timing could not be better. The developer and the council say they will work together throughout 2020 to formalise the proposed partnership, develop the design of the building and work on a planning application. Subject to planning, work will begin on site in 2021 with expected completion in 2023. Before long, the city centre will have more Grade A space to attract new investment in the district.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “The appointment of award-winning developers Muse to design and build One City Park is yet another firm indicator that Bradford is on the way up. Building on the success of City Park and the progress of Bradford Live, it’s a further indication that the UK’s youngest city, with its entrepreneurial spirit, is recognised by the wider business community as a place where they want to, and can, do business and that we are a council which supports them to do that.”

People do vote with their feet. So does business. And they are making their way to Bradford.