Local Newspaper Week: How the T&A campaigns for positive change in Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Telegraph & Argus editor Perry Austin Clarke with City of Film director David Wilson and the T&A          petition against the closure of the National Media Museum, signed by thousands of readers last summer Telegraph & Argus editor Perry Austin Clarke with City of Film director David Wilson and the T&A petition against the closure of the National Media Museum, signed by thousands of readers last summer

Anyone who doubts the difference that a local newspaper can make only has to glance at the T&A’s current £1m Crocus Cancer Appeal.

When the T&A joined forces with Bradford University, Yorkshire Cancer Research and Sovereign Healthcare Charitable Trust last year to raise money to pay for the research and development into new cancer medicines at the University’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, the target figure must have struck some as unlikely to say the least.

But nearly 16 years ago the T&A graphically demonstrated the power of local newspapers to prompt and then galvanise public opinion when, with our help, Bradford’s public rallied round to raise £1m to buy a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner and equip a suite for it at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

That campaign was a joint partnership too, with Sovereign Health Care and Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust. A constant stream of publicity over two years detailing what people were doing meant that on January 22, 1999, the T&A was able to announce that the target had been met.

What difference did the MRI scanner make? It meant that BRI had a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool to pinpoint illnesses and conditions without people having to traipse to Leeds or Halifax.

Bradford people may not live in the wealthiest part of the country, but over the years they have responded with extraordinary generosity to the T&A’s campaign appeals.

Next May marks the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City fire disaster which killed 56 people and injured up to 200. Out of that tragedy came the appeal which raised more than £4m for the families of the victims and which helped Professor David Sharpe to set up the Bradford Burns Unit, which is now part of Bradford University’s Centre for Skin Sciences.

Four years ago Bradford City Football Club and the T&A launched a £100,000 Burns Unit appeal with the aim of furthering the work that had been developed in the treatment of burns.

Again, the paper’s job of publicising fundraising efforts and keeping the matter at the front of the public mind from day to day resulted in donations totalling more than £167,775.

Given these past successes, would anyone seriously doubt that the Crocus Cancer Appeal won’t reach its £1m target?

To date up to £200,000 has been raised – more will be coming in from a series of Crocus Week events that started on Saturday and will be going on until next Sunday.

Over the past 30 years the T&A has campaigned for more effective laws to curb dangerous dogs. The spur to this was the savaging of six-year-old Rucksana Khan by a pit bull terrier in May, 1991. The muzzling and leashing of dogs in public and the banning of certain types of dog followed.

But the problem is still there. Last year, more than 100 people in Bradford who were attacked by dogs had to be treated in hospital. Last August, delivery man Chris Hirst was attacked by an American Bulldog at a house in Bierley. The dog snapped his right arm in two.

Clearly the legislators in Parliament need to do much more to protect the public. The T&A will remain vigilant on this matter.

Responding to a case like that of Rucksana Khan is what you would expect a newspaper to do. In much the same way, the T&A responded to the plight of the National Media Museum last summer.

The future of the Science Museum offshoot was plunged into doubt due to budget cuts and a suggestion that the place might be closed.

The T&A hit the issue very hard, running daily news splashes arguing the case for the NMM to remain open, an argument that was supported by the likes of Martin Scorsese and David Hockney as well as thousands of people who signed our online petition.

Within a matter of months, the threat to the NMM receded with assurances offered from both the Science Museum and the Government.

The paper refused to accept the threat to the NMM as a foregone conclusion. Similarly, the paper challenged Bradford Council planners when they declared that population trends showed tht Bradford Metropolitan District would need more than 40,000 new houses by 2021.

Sensing the threat this carried for the district’s countryside the paper immediately launched its Save Our Green Spaces campaign, which successfully challenged the published figures and gave hope to local campaigners across the district.

Last April, the council admitted that the number of projected new households had been over-estimated by 13,000.

Visit www.localnewspaperweek.co.uk/making-difference to vote for the T&A’s campaign to save the Media Museum in a competition to find the best local newspaper campaign of the year.

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