Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Party differences put aside to bring much-needed shot in the arm for Bradford city centre
The Labour leader of Bradford Council has paid tribute to his Liberal Democrat opponents for their help in delivering Government funds for the £35 million city centre Growth Zone.
The scheme has been hailed by Business Secretary Vince Cable as an example of the Government’s aim of achieving growth that is more evenly balanced across the country.
Coun David Green praised Coun Janette Sunderland and Bradford East MP David Ward for using their influence with Liberal Democrat Government ministers to back the scheme, which is designed to create thousands of jobs in Bradford city centre and which received Government backing last week.
Speaking at the official launch of the Growth Zone, which is being funded through a combination of £17.6 million from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and £17.2 million from Bradford Council, Coun Green said winning Government backing had been “a long and rocky road”, but praised Coun Sunderland and Mr Ward for their help in negotiations with Treasury ministers and officials.
He said: “I would like to thank them for their support during the negotiations with the Treasury and playing a crucial role in ensuring this scheme can go ahead. It created great opportunities for Bradford and businesses in the city centre.”
Coun Sunderland, who took home-made maps and aerial photographs of the city centre area to show Treasury ministers and officials, said the launch of the Growth Zone showed what could be done when people worked together.
She said: “I’m pleased that we’ve got the Growth Zone, which shows what can be done when everyone works together. Now we need to be looking at the next project, which should be a scheme to boost Bradford’s manufacturing sector, because that’s where a significant number of jobs could be created.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We need growth that is more evenly balanced across the country. That is why we are supporting places like Bradford through the Regional Growth Fund. Our £17.6m funding will provide a boost for skills and help stimulate investment – we expect it to create and safeguard around 2,800 jobs over the next five years. This gives Bradford a real opportunity to establish itself as an excellent place to do business.”
Bradford East MP David Ward said the launch of the Growth Zone was a a sign that the tide was turning in Bradford’s favour.
He said: “I believe the snowball is now definitely rolling down the hill. This launch and recent developments over the Westfield site, where we can now expect work to start sometime next year, shows that things are coming together for Bradford, which has a bright future over the next 15 years.
“It will give the city more self-confidence and put it in a position to encourage local businesses to expand, as well as draw in investment from outside.”
Barra Mac Ruairi, Bradford Council’s strategic director for regeneration, outlined the Growth Zone scheme to an audience of business leaders at the Impressions Gallery in City Park. He described the launch of the Zone as “a great opportunity” that businesses could take advantage of.
Other significant benefits for businesses looking to expand in the city centre or seeking to move there included the availability of superfast broadband and free wi-fi, planning support and skills support from the Council.
The launch of the council’s Get Bradford Working programme earlier this year also clearly demonstrated the local authority’s strong desire to boost employment, which in turn will boost the local economy.
Catherine Riley, Manager of the Kirkgate Centre, said after the launch: “I am in support of any initiative that brings jobs into Bradford city centre and that creates the right conditions for people to be able to spend money.”
Peter Crook, chief executive of Provident Financial, is a member of the Bradford City Centre Development Group, which submitted the formal bid for government support for the Growth Zone.
He said: “We are located at the heart of the city and are really excited about the potential the Zone brings.”
Coun Green said the authority would be working with private companies and investors to bring new businesses into the zone by providing help and support with business rates.
He said the Council was looking to offer a “joined-up package” of help and support as well as considering a "more proactive planning" regime in the city centre.
He said: “The growth zone is going to achieve all of those but at its heart is the business rate support that we will be able to give on top of that.”
How Will Growth Scheme Work?
For a company new to the Growth zone and creating four new jobs rates payable on new premises are £19,694 a year.
The first new jobs results in a rate rebate of £16,000 and any additional jobs created would result in a 100 per cent rate rebate – meaning an extra £3,694 for the business.
An expanding business already operating in the Growth Zone with two staff planning to employ two more people and extend into space on the first floor of its existing premises, currently paying rates of £26,348 a year would face an additional rates bill of £17,984 for the first floor space.
The first new job would attract a rate rebate of £16,000 on the £26,348. Any additional jobs created would result in a 100 per cent rate rebate of £10,348.The employer would also receive a single one off payment of £17,984 due to the increase in business rates payable.