The Government has been urged to extend Bradford’s successful City Centre Growth zone for another two years as the district’s economic potential was championed in the House of Lords.
Baroness Margaret Eaton, a former leader of Bradford Council, invited senior ministers to commit to a meeting with Bradford’s Producer City Board later this year to discuss further ways of supporting the district’s economy.
The existing £35 million growth zone has been credited with providing a major boost to Bradford’s economy by stimulating investment, employment and economic growth through rate rebates and capital grant incentives, complemented by the start of construction of the £260m Westfield shopping development.
Baroness Eaton, who also represents the Bingley Rural ward for the Conservatives on Bradford Council, told the House of Lords that the Bradford district contributes £8.3 billion to the UK economy and is a centre for manufacturing with advanced engineering, chemicals, printing and digital industries.
She also pointed to major companies such as Morrisons, Yorkshire Building Society, Pace, Yorkshire Water and Hallmark Cards having their headquarters in the district.
Speaking after the debate, Baroness Eaton said: “I urged the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to extend Bradford’s City Centre Growth Zone from December 2014 to March 2017 and to commit to a meeting with Bradford’s Producer City Board later this year to explore what further support the Government might be able to offer Bradford district’s economy, and particularly, the development of its engineering capacity.
“Baroness Stowell of Beeston, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government, responding on behalf of the Government, gave a positive response to my requests, agreeing to come to Bradford to meet the Producer City Board and discuss the city centre growth zone and the future economic development of Bradford district and the wider City Region.”
The electrification of the Calder Valley line rail route through Bradford Interchange was also raised by Baroness Eaton.
“Given the clear potential for significant economic growth in Bradford district, it is both surprising and disappointing that the key rail route through Bradford has not been included in the Government’s provisional plans for electrification between 2014 and 2019,” she said.
“I therefore urged the Secretary of State for Transport to add this key route for Bradford district to those currently being considered by a taskforce. Electrification would improve rail journeys for passengers, attract more businesses to invest in the city and district, reduce road congestion and contribute to making our air cleaner.”
The Telegraph & Argus was praised by the House of Lords in the debate for its positive reporting of regeneration and community projects, the Get Bradford Working scheme and Westfield starting construction on site.
The Council was also praised by the Lords for “working towards the vision of a place that is prosperous, creative, diverse and inclusive and delivering this by working with partners and citizens”.
Baroness Eaton said of the debate: “I was really pleased with the amazing support for Bradford district from the Lords across the political groups and was delighted that the Archbishop of York could attend the debate to make his important contribution to it.”
Council leader, Coun David Green, said: “Baroness Coun Margaret Eaton is a great ambassador for Bradford district. Her hard work and commitment in securing the House of Lords debate has promoted Bradford district’s qualities and enormous potential at the heart of government. Her initiative has been very significant in supporting local economic and regional growth.”