Bradford businesses supporting the circular economy

Circular Yorkshire

By Dave Baldwin

She dreamed of being sailor as a young girl and saved her school lunch money to buy her first boat. Dame Ellen MacArthur made sailing history in 2005 when she set the solo speed record for circumnavigating the world. During the 71-day, 27,000-mile voyage, the yachtswoman experienced a powerful realisation, one that would change the course of her life.

In an interview with The Guardian, she recalled: “I remember quite poignantly writing in the log on the boat; ‘What I have got on the boat is everything’. It really struck me that you save everything, everything you have, because you know it’s finite, you know there isn’t any more. What you have on that boat is it, your entire world.”

Dame Ellen added: “The basis of my thinking was completely around resources. It was around the pure fact – stemming from what I had learned on the boat – that resources are finite. The more I learned, I just saw this as the greatest challenge I had ever come across. If we are using these resources in a very linear fashion we are going to use them up at some stage, and no one knows exactly when.”

With this acute awareness of the limitations of the widespread linear approach to resources, she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to develop a sustainable alternative known as the circular economy, based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

The University of Bradford has worked closely with Dame Ellen since the launch of her foundation nearly a decade ago. The foundation helps businesses and organisations to accelerate the transition to a more regenerative economic model and has published a series of seminal studies on the business case for the circular economy, winning accolades from the World Economic Forum and helping to shape government policy.

In partnership with the foundation and businesses including B&Q, BT, Cisco, Renault and National Grid, the university introduced the world’s first circular economy MBA in 2011, equipping students and their sponsoring bodies with the skills to use resources and energy more effectively, reuse products and materials and deliver increased profits. The foundation recognised Bradford’s world-leading expertise in the field with Pioneer University status, a big deal for the institution and our region.

November is Circular Yorkshire month, a new campaign to increase understanding of circular economy principles and business benefits. With Bradford’s extensive knowledge and experience of this new economic model, we are proud to support the initiative. Find out more by searching for #CircularYorkshire online.

Our business community leads the way in many areas of environmental performance, according to the latest Leeds City Region Business Survey. The survey of 2,000-plus companies across the region revealed that Bradford businesses are more likely to operate schemes to save energy, water and waste. They will tend to use environmentally friendly technologies and have formal environmental accreditations. And they will probably have taken action to clean up their supply chains. Economists say businesses undertaking at least one of these actions are more likely to report stronger growth in turnover and employment. A win-win, in other words.

Given the strength of the advanced manufacturing sector in Bradford, I am not surprised at our strong showing in this survey. Manufacturers are resourceful by nature and typically have a global outlook. They also have a business imperative; a growing number of their OEM customers have mandated environmentally friendly practices in supply chains, largely driven by regulatory and consumer demands. 

One of Bradford’s largest private employers, Yorkshire Water, sees Bradford as ideal for its circular economy developments. Liz Barber, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “The masterplan for our 32-acre site at Esholt should see it become a real beacon for sustainable development. It will retain the existing treatment works which already generates much of its own power and other developments will bring in sustainable housing and new industries which can also make use of the heat and grey water generated from the works.” This column turns full circle and returns to Dame Ellen for the close. This inspirational woman has strong links with Bradford. Her mother and grandmother were born in the city, which virtually makes her one of our own. We are enormously proud of the work she is doing and urge businesses to embrace the principles of the circular economy if they have not already done so. The circular economy supports economic growth, builds community resilience and addresses climate change, three of the most important challenges of our time.

Bradford businesses giving opportunities to young people

Bradford Manufacturing Week

By Dave Baldwin

Lenworth George Henry didn’t seem destined for greatness. One of seven children from a Jamaican family in Dudley, he failed his 11-plus exam, went to the local secondary school and left at 16 with no qualifications. But he did have a science teacher, Mr Brookes, who encouraged his comedy ambitions by letting him use a reel-to-reel recorder to rehearse funny voices.

Now 61, Sir Lenny Henry is a much-loved comedian, actor, writer and bona fide national treasure. This month he visited Bradford as part of his book tour, Who Am I, Again? His show at the newly refurbished St George’s Hall promised funny and sad stories from growing up in the Black Country, covering school, friendship, family secrets and unashamed racism.

But without the encouragement of that kindly teacher, who knows how his life would have turned out. It is so important that children get the chance to follow their interests and discover their talents. In every classroom I believe there is potential greatness, just waiting to be unlocked.

It’s not just teachers and parents who hold the key. The old proverb reminds us it takes a whole village to raise a child, meaning that an entire community of people must interact with children for them to grow into well-adjusted adults. In Bradford, we are lucky to have a strong business community with a powerful sense of social responsibility.

This comes to the fore in the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership. This year’s initiative is on track to create 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, double the number of 2018’s inaugural programme.

Employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors are organising work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. As well as helping boost apprenticeship numbers, these can also give young people a glimpse of the inspiring, innovative and rewarding enterprises creating wealth and prosperity across our district.

An estimated 45 secondary schools took part in this year’s scheme, which has won national praise. Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson said: “Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved.

“In my speech to Conservative Party conference, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy. They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future.

“And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.”

Mr Williamson, a social sciences graduate of Bradford University, knows the importance of the state education system; he is the product of a Scarborough comprehensive school and is married to a former primary teacher.

Nick Garthwaite, managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, is the founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks. He said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our initiative. We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision-making process.”

Mr Garthwaite added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

Every pupil should be able to have meaningful encounters with employers in Bradford. We know this will dramatically increase their chances of success in the workplace. At a deeper level, simply encouraging young people to follow their interests and discover their talents can be incredibly powerful. As Sir Lenny says, “we all bloom towards the sunlight”.

Talented Bradford writers producing outstanding theatre

By Dave Baldwin

Tech and media giants are piling billions of dollars into streaming services. Netflix is spending $15bn a year on new content. Apple is committing $6bn to catch up. Disney is joining the fray with its new streaming brand. The fate of all this investment will live or die by the quality of its output. That will be determined by the quality of input. Good writing, in other words.

Bradford offers an astonishingly rich seam of original content. The district is producing some very exciting new writers. BD Stories, presented by theatre company Freedom Studios, perfectly illustrates the point. The double bill of short short plays celebrates the stories and cultures of Bradford. The production is a triumph of emerging writing talent and points to a promising future.

BD Stories

The first play, Number 4, is set in a women’s basketball team and tells a powerful and universal story of friendship, identity, body image and sport. The playwright Asma Elbadawi was born in Sudan and moved to Bradford as a young child. She overcame dyslexia to become a poet, performance artist and writer. She is also a basketball player, coach and global brand ambassador for Adidas.

“Growing up with dyslexia means I had an issue with spelling,” Asma told the BBC. “I would just write the poems and not share them. As I got older, I got the urge to share my work a lot more… Anyone can do those amazing things they see other people do.”

Asma has performed at TEDx Bradford, Bradford Literature Festival, Liverpool Acoustic Festival, Women of the World Festival and London Word of Mouth. She won the 2015 Words First poetry competition in Leeds. Her poetry and interviews have featured on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4 and Buzzfeed. Number 4 is her first play.

The second play, Pashto Thriller, tells the story of a teenage British-Pakistani girl growing up in Bradford in the 1980s, struggling with having to wear a shalwar kameez at school and harbouring a secret love of Michael Jackson and dancing. When Bibi visits from Pakistan, grandmother and granddaughter find more in common than they thought. It is an exhilarating play; funny, sad and joyful.

It is Aina J Khan’s first play. She moved to Bradford aged 15 and based the story on her and her mother’s experiences. Aina is a journalist and has been published in the Guardian, Al Jazeera, Vogue, Financial Times and Vice. She told The Yorkshire Post: “Within Bradford, there is such a volcano of talent and creativity because there are so many people who are starving to tell their stories because they have been neglected for so long. They have not had the funding and focus that other cities like London have had.”

Both Aina and Asma were associate artists at Freedom Studios, a pioneering theatre company responsible for developing artistic and creative talent in Yorkshire. They were encouraged simply to write about what they wanted to write about. Audiences will agree the results are outstanding. “Significant, important and inspiring”, said writer, critic and BBC presenter Nick Ahad of their work.

Alex Chisolm, co-artistic director, said: “BD Stories came about to bring these two plays to a wider audience in Bradford, an audience that has wholeheartedly embraced both plays. Freedom Studios exists to nurture new talent and new stories and bring them to life with and for communities. Bradford has a richness of stories in all of the connections, and frictions, between its many communities. And it has a wealth of talent to tell those stories to a wider world.”

All this bodes well for our bid to host UK City of Culture in 2025. It shows why Channel 4 chose to set up its new national headquarters on our doorstep. A canny move. Studios looking for the next big streaming hit would do well to look beyond the usual sources for their inspiration. They will find plenty to write home about in Bradford.

Bradford’s UK City of Culture bid is a sign of increased optimism

Dancers at the Bradford 2025 launch event

By Dave Baldwin

Monty Python was right: always look on the bright side of life. A major US study of more than 70,000 people has confirmed that optimists live longer than those with a negative outlook. The researchers from Boston University also found that positive people were more likely to set themselves goals and believe they would achieve them.

That’s the point I want to make here. To be successful at anything, you must believe in yourself. Bradford’s bid to host the UK City of Culture in 2025 is a sure sign of growing self belief. If you doubt me, have a look at Jack King’s We Are All Bradford film, the first commission for the bid, and feel the sense of confidence and optimism in the way people of all ages and backgrounds are talking about our district.

“It’s a city of constant stimulation… it’s always challenging you and asking you questions… it’s a city of joy and a home away from home… a city of industrial innovation… of creative and artistic innovation… and a city of the world,” according to some of the voices in the film. See it for yourself and share it with your friends.

Winning host status is our goal and we are going all out to achieve it. Businesses have an important role to play. Suzanne Watson, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “We support Bradford’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. Businesses know they will be more successful operating in a vibrant, aspirational place. Being UK City of Culture would help us to share more widely the assets and enthusiasm that we see locally.

“I think that the bid process itself will bring in different stakeholders to contribute positively to the campaign and this will highlight some of the very significant gains that Bradford can achieve by being accorded this designation. We already have lots to shout about but being UK City of Culture can help us make a step-change in this area. The bid will demonstrate Bradford’s global connectivity, its strong partnership working and its historical and continuing contributions to the arts, commerce, politics, sport and innovation… to name just a few areas.”

Sandy Needham, Chief Executive at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “It’s the arts, sport, the environment and people that define the culture of a city. Bradford’s museums, festivals, architecture, sport, international food and young population make it a welcoming place. For many visitors, it exceeds expectations. It’s a good place to start a business too – workspace costs are reasonable, for example, and there’s a growing population.

“Recruitment is a competitive market so being based in a city offering quality of life and cultural activities makes a difference to how attractive jobs are. Initiatives such as our own Bradford Manufacturing Weeks help raise awareness of local career opportunities while businesses in that particular sector are already exporting their products all over the world, and so promoting Bradford.”

Bradford does face extraordinary challenges. But it also presents extraordinary opportunities. I’m an optimist. I believe that if we all work together and get our noses pointing in the same direction, we can achieve great things: whether that’s adding £4bn to our district economy, getting 20,000 extra people into work, raising the skills levels of 48,000 more or winning the bid to host the UK City of Culture in 2025. If there is ever any doubt, give a whistle and remember: always look on the bright side of life.

Business leaders, by their nature, tend to be positive people. Given the constant cut and thrust of running a business, it is essential to see the glass as half full. They can make a big difference to our bid by showing their support. To find out more, I invite them to get in touch with the Bradford Chamber or visit the Bradford 2025 City of Culture website.

University of Bradford leads the way on social inclusion

University of Bradford

By Dave Baldwin

Strong cities need strong institutions and when a leading example is singled out for its excellence, it strengthens the standing of the city overall. Step forward University of Bradford, named by The Sunday Times as the UK’s University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2020.

The national award recognises the anchor institution’s outstanding impact on social inclusion that ensures all students, irrespective of their personal circumstances, are supported to achieve their potential and go on to achieve success. It’s a perfect illustration of the transformational work taking place in our district.

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “Bradford is a university for its city and the wider region and it offers lessons to the rest of British higher education on how to effectively embrace social diversity on campus.

“By recruiting very heavily from its immediate environs, Bradford has one of the largest proportions of students from ethnic minorities of any British university, but its social diversity extends wider and makes the new vice-chancellor’s stated desire to put the University of Bradford at the heart of the region’s social and economic regeneration no hollow ambition.

“The university provides opportunities for a higher education that are denied to so many elsewhere: two-thirds of the intake come from families where parents did not attend university; 40 per cent are mature students taking degrees many years after leaving school; and more than half are recruited from the four poorest socio-economic groups.

“These statistics show that social inclusiveness in the student body is ingrained in Bradford’s DNA. And it is all achieved with high levels of professional employment and excellent degree outcomes for students from all backgrounds – a remarkable achievement and one well deserving the award of University of the Year for Social Inclusion.”

Professor Shirley Congdon, who took over as vice chancellor in August after serving as deputy since 2015, is rightly delighted with this richly deserved reward. She is a great role model for young people in our district and has spoken of how she wants to use her position to promote equality and diversity and challenge the structural issues in society that hold people back.

Shirley started out working as a nurse and went into academia as a lecturer practitioner. She focused on health and social care studies and progressed into senior management posts in higher education. Shirley said: “Along the way, I came across people who questioned the value of my route into the university sector or brought attention to my County Durham accent.

“The University of Bradford can contribute significantly more to improving social mobility in society and will take a solid and consistent approach to this mission. We need more diverse people in more senior roles across the board.”

The university is central to developing Bradford’s future success stories. You don’t have to look far to find inspiring examples of social mobility in action. Take Maria Battul, who is studying International Relations and Security Studies and was Women’s and Campaign Officer for the students’ union last year.

Maria said: “I’ve been brought up in a single parent family so I’ve seen the struggles of my own mother and I’ve also seen other experiences of the women around me. I’m pushing for women to actually enter leadership roles. This is by the formation of a committee that I’ve created this year. It’s for women to lead and do activities and other events that they’d like to do. It’s all based around female students participating in leadership roles and empowering themselves.”

Xander Ford was the first person in his family to study at university. He graduated from Bradford in July with a first-class honours degree in Graphics for Games. He said: “I guess I could be described as a storyteller, artist, I don’t know. I enjoy just talking about things. I like making games and stories and telling those stories. I think it’s really cool.” Perfect skills for the UK City of Culture 2025.

There will be many thousands more like Maria and Xander out there. It’s our job to encourage them to realise their potential. Their achievements show their families, friends and communities what is possible when you set yourself a goal and work towards it.

Shirley and her team are building a powerful alliance with partners in schools, colleges, businesses, the local authority and health and care providers to support inclusion and reduce inequality. Winning this award is a great recognition of the progress already made and the foundations that have been put in place in Bradford to help people succeed in life, whatever their background.

The time is right for Bradford to be UK City of Culture

By David Baldwin

Today will be a tale of two cities: one the capital of our great nation and seat of decision-making powers and the other the up-and-coming place of youth, potential and opportunity.

I am referring to London and Bradford and the events being held in both destinations today to officially launch our bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2025.

We will be in London tonight to hammer the message home that we are the leading contender in the competition to host this prestigious title and the best place to capture all the benefits it can bring. But the day begins in Bradford at the Kala Sangam arts hub with a coming together for the growing coalition of cultural and community groups we need to make our bid successful.

We will also be announcing the members of the steering group which as chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership I am delighted to be joining.

The Southbank Centre will be staging our London event, just across the Thames from Whitehall and the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, which will announce the winning entry at the end of 2021.

We have recruited a line-up of leading figures from the arts and cultural industries to bang the drum for Bradford, including keynote speaker Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of ITV, Lynette Huntley, chief of staff at Channel 4, and Madani Younis, creative director at our host venue.

Madani is one of the brightest stars in the arts world, winning plaudits for his energy, vision, innovation and experimentation in the course of his career, which started in Bradford at the Asian Theatre School and Freedom Studios.

He told us: “Bradford reminds me of what makes our country great and this bid is an opportunity to shout about how great our city is with new friends.”

We will also be hearing from Kersten England, chief executive of Bradford Council, Tom Bloxham, the chairman of regeneration pioneer Urban Splash, and Mary Dowson, interim chair of our City of Culture board and director of local radio station Bradford Community Broadcasting.

The BBC journalist Sabbiyah Pervez will be compere.

Viewers will know her from the corporation’s We Are Bradford storytelling project which pioneered a new approach to news gathering and gave a voice to our residents on the national stage.

Supporters include promising new talents such as Suman Hanif whose filmmaking is attracting international attention and is producing her first feature film, Amara and Family, in Bradford.

She sees the city as a wonderful backdrop for telling globally relevant stories about the universal themes of mental health, identity, immigration and female empowerment.

We can also count a number of allies in the cultural establishment such as Roger Mosey, the former head of BBC television news and Master of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge.

He said: “I’ve lived and worked in various cities in the UK and I am completely convinced that the atmosphere and the culture of Bradford are unique.

“It’s about the mix of heritage and youth: a city that has experienced tough times but also has a sense of humour and a good heart. It’s still a place I think of as home, and I wish the city the best of luck in getting the recognition it deserves.”

Our time is coming. We believe major investment in jobs and regeneration will result from Bradford’s bid.

It will add further impetus to our economic growth strategy.

This aims to add £4bn to the district economy, generate 20,000 new jobs and improve the skills of nearly 50,000 residents by 2030.

We are making strong progress against our targets. We are staging inspirational events, nurturing young talent, winning arts investment and welcoming new names to the district and wider city region such as professional services giant PwC and national broadcaster Channel 4.The social and economic regeneration is gathering pace in Bradford.

The City of Culture 2025 can be the catalyst to take this to the next stage.

Workforce plan has perfectly clear vision

By Dave Baldwin

If you want people to buy into your vision, it’s got to be easy to understand. This one is perfectly clear: to equip Bradford people with the skills that employers need; to improve the quality of jobs in the district and to make sure good jobs and careers are available to all communities.

Titled People, Skills and Prosperity, Bradford District’s Workforce Development Plan brings together the council, colleges, schools, employers and training providers to work more collaboratively. If you want to achieve big hairy audacious goals in life, you’ve got to have everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction.

We have one ambition: to be the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of our economy by £4 billion and getting 20,000 more people into work as outlined in our growth strategy. Some might say that’s pretty audacious, but it’s eminently doable and we’re making strong progress.

Our plan has two principles: inclusiveness and sustainability. That means ensuring everyone can contribute to and benefit from growth and ensuring growth protects and enhances our natural environment. Quite simply, the future generations won’t forgive us if we don’t.

We have three strategic assets: people, business and place. Our young and diverse population provides Bradford with a unique advantage. Our innovative and productive businesses give the platform for growth. Our diverse place and communities provide a range of live and work opportunities. You can’t argue with any of those strengths.

Three themes run through the plan: building skills employers seek, improving job quality and connecting our communities to good jobs and careers. As part of these, we are expanding sector-based workforce development, ensuring people make informed decisions about their future careers, maximising the economic power and influence of our anchor institutions, developing a one-stop shop to support business talent requirements, supporting low-skilled jobseekers into work and upwards, and developing an inclusive community learning plan.

Andrew Laver, managing director of timber merchant Arnold Laver and chairman of Bradford’s Industrial Centres of Excellence (ICE) programme, said: “Strong businesses drive economic growth, and for businesses to thrive and prosper, we need a skilled workforce. Developing the skills of people in the district, and importantly making sure that young people in schools gain the qualification and experience they need to drive success, is an essential part of our shared success.”

Cllr Imran Khan, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills and Deputy Leader of the Council, added: “The people of Bradford are key to the success of our district. A successful economy in Bradford is dependent on the skills of everyone who lives and works here. This plan will help us improve skills at every level, will support our local businesses and provide a better quality of life for our residents.

“The plan has been developed following extensive consultation with partners and is about enhancing and building on existing successes. It calls on everyone – business, education, families and individuals – to work together to create a skills system that works for everyone.”

We don’t have a lot of extra money to deliver this plan. We need to be as creative and resourceful as possible in repurposing and better coordinating existing funding and working with businesses to stimulate private sector investment. We also need central Government to help pay for the up-skilling of our workforce. The “seismic shift” in funding and powers called for by the Convention of the North wouldn’t go amiss.

Above all, we need everyone to carry on working together. We are the Bradford Economic Partnership. The clue is in the name: it’s a partnership, a team effort. As Cllr Khan said, everyone who lives, works and runs business in the district has a role to play in improving skills at all levels from entry through to PhD.

Bradford Council approved the plan this month. At the meeting, a headteacher spoke about the life-changing impact of programmes like these. Zoe Mawson, of Beckfoot Heaton Primary School, said: “Three years ago we weren’t giving a good education to our children. One of the biggest challenges was that children didn’t have high expectations of themselves or their families. They didn’t see how their futures could be different. We wanted children to believe they could have the future they wanted.”

The school now welcomes a range of visitors from different backgrounds, from apprentices to members of the Royal Household, to talk about their careers. “What it’s done is let them know the world is their oyster,” said Ms Mawson. Our plan is the sword to open it, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

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

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