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Controversial book ranks Bradford as the second worst place to live in UK
Do they mean us? They surely do. Bradford has been voted second in a list of the “crappest” towns and cities in the country – just behind London.
The unflattering accolade comes on the back of a new book, Crap Towns Returns, which details the worst places to live in Britain. And to add insult to injury, the worst of the mud being slung at Bradford does, according to the book’s editor Sam Jordison, come from people who live here.
Crap Towns Returns is the follow-up to Crap Towns, which raised hackles across the country in 2003 with its less-than-flattering descriptions of towns and cities. The new book has sought to test the mood of the nation a decade on to see whether some towns have improved... and what’s got worse. The top five might make for surprising reading – London, Bradford, Chipping Norton, Southampton and even historic York.
Bradford has leapt up the placings from a mid-table 39 to a disappointing second place – largely, said Jordison, because of the stalled Westfield development and rows over city centre regeneration plans, including those for the old Odeon cinema.
He said we’ve no-one to blame but ourselves: “The overwhelming majority of the nominations about Bradford came from within the town. They’re generally from people who love the place, but feel really frustrated about the way things have gone in the past 20 years, especially with the big hole in the middle of town, the ridiculous attempts to knock down much-loved (and beautiful) buildings like the cinema.”
But there is some measure of affection in the knocking, he insisted. He said: “People generally write in about their hometown, and it’s an affectionate kind of loathing. It’s the same as ribbing your own family member. You might think they look daft, but you still love them to bits.”
So what have people been saying about Bradford? Here are some of the comments included in the book: l “A once fine and confident Victorian city has been brought to its knees by years of truly incompetent planning and failed developer driven attempts at ‘regeneration’. If the planners and the politicians had left well alone Bradford might have prospered.”
l “Every time a national league table is published Bradford is at the wrong end of it. Congestion, segregation, school standards, derelict land, burglaries, home repossessions, crap high streets, postal vote rigging, youth (and other) unemployment, overall deprivation, etc. You name it, we’re bad at it.”
l “In Bradford city centre many fine Victorian buildings have been demolished. Much of the 1960s crap that replaced them has also gone. The old department stores have all gone. Many shops have closed. Many pubs have shut. The only things that ever open round here are pound shops and charity shops.”
l “As a former resident, revisiting poor old Bradders is like going to see an increasingly sick relative. You can still remember why you love it, but Lord it makes you sad. And it smells of wee.”
But has Jordison actually ever been to Bradford? He has, and said: “I’ve been a couple of times and Bradford is pretty depressing. Especially because it has the potential to be such a great place and clearly has been before. To be blunt, the kind of neglect and bad planning decisions that have happened in Bradford are maddening. On a more positive note, there are also clearly good things happening in the town. The plans to fix the cinema, and all the grassroots organisations that have sprung up are real cause for hope. Local people are starting to say we’ve had enough and we need to do something about it.”
And it’s not just Bradford city centre that’s in for a kicking... picturesque Haworth comes in at number 18, with the comment: “With mislaid sentimentality we thank Haworth for giving us the Bronte sisters. Really we should be cursing the place for killing them so young.”
Coun David Green, Bradford Council leader, said: “I think in many ways this result means I have less to worry about than Boris Johnson. There are many good things going on in Bradford and many great people but I would defend to the death the right of people who live here to express negative views - it’s people from outside who have never been here criticising Bradford that I don’t like. And we shouldn’t get carried away; if there were above three or four people who responded with their thoughts on Bradford I’d be surprised.”
Jane Vincent of recruitment agency Candelisa People and one of the founders of Positive Bradford day, said: “What a waste of time and effort. I won’t be buying it. Any town and city has it’s bad points.
Liz Tattersley, Welcome to Yorkshire’s West Yorkshire Area Director, said: “We find it pretty unbelievable to see Bradford on this list and ranked so highly. We could go on for ages about what makes Bradford brilliant, not least its UNESCO City of Film status, Bradford City’s epic cup run last season, the National Media Museum, Alhambra theatre, numerous curry capital awards, world famous Bronte Country and Saltaire being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, all these things are compelling reasons to visit the city which will also see the Tour de France pass through the district next summer.”
Crap Towns Returns by Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran is published on Thursday by Quercus Books
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