Report highlights a growing divide

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: London London

The economic recovery is widening the gap between London and other cities across the UK, including Bradford, according to findings in a new report published today.

‘Cities Outlook 2014’, produced by the urban economic think tank, ‘Centre for Cities’, reveals that London accounted for 80 per cent of growth in private sector jobs between 2010 and 2012, with 216,700 positions created in the city.
During the same time period, 4,800 private sector jobs were lost in Bradford, alongside a further 2,900 public sector roles.
Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities said: “This report shows that the gap between London and other UK cities is widening and we are failing to make the most of cities’ economic potential.
“Devolving more funding and powers to UK cities, so they can generate more of their own income and play to their different strengths, will be critical to ensuring this is a sustainable, job-rich recovery.”
As reported in last week’s Telegraph & Argus, Bradford Council has called on the Government to extend the City Centre Growth Zone scheme, which aims to stimulate business growth by offering rate rebates to city centre firms offering new employment opportunities, from December 2014 to March 2017.
To date, the £35 million scheme, a joint investment by the Government’s regional growth fund and the Council, has given £579,000 of rebates to 73 Bradford businesses for the promise of almost 300 jobs.
Overall, the scheme hopes to create 2,264 jobs via the Westfield Shopping Centre development and 500 elsewhere in the city.
Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for employment, said: “We have put a huge amount of effort into the regeneration of Bradford, and this is now being rewarded with renewed optimism within the city. The City Centre Growth Zone is a unique scheme that gives us a better chance of economic success.
“The growth of the economy nationally is largely felt in London and the south east, and not in northern cities. The Government needs to use public money to pump prime these areas.”
David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, said addressing any southern bias was key in the distribution of future funding.
“Re-balancing the economy must be about tackling the north-south divide, and it needs to disproportionately target areas of deprivation,” he said.
“Unemployment is going down, but it is a slow process and we are playing catch-up. We can’t just give massive state handouts to prop up the public sector, we’ve got to create private sector jobs here in the north.”
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, said: “There is an urgent need for the creation of meaningful jobs, particularly for young people, and this is beyond the local authority. It needs positive re-direction from Government and development aid for Bradford and the north.”
But Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: “This report is just a statement of the obvious.
“Of course the north is growing at a slower rate than the south, that has been the case for decades, irrespective of which party is in government.
“The redistribution of funds is happening, but London will always be the leader in terms of growth. Official figures show that employment levels are increasing in every part of the country, meaning everywhere is benefiting.”

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