Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
City regeneration company to be wound up
The company created to drive through Bradford’s £3 billion regeneration is to be disbanded, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal.
During a nine-month handover period, the Council will take back in-house the work of Bradford Centre Regeneration which since 2003 has spearheaded the ‘Birth of a New City’ initiative.
Exact details of how BCR will be disbanded are yet to emerge but it is possible that it could be kept as a shell, as a means of attracting investment from various funding bodies.
But control over regeneration will return to the Council which, it is believed, now feels itself to be in the best position to drive forward the delivery stage of the programme with a more dynamic team.
Councillor Ian Greenwood, leader of the Council’s Labour group and a member of the BCR board, admitted it had had mixed results.
“My view is that it was good to have a vehicle for concentrating attention and focus on the city centre,” he said.
“I very much welcome the private sector investment in the body and I think the planning stage was good.
“But I am not convinced we have seen the amount of improvement in the city centre that we might have expected in the period. I think people would have expected greater physical indication of regeneration than has been demonstrated. We need to see cranes and buildings going up.
“The Council needs to be responsible for steering regeneration forward in the future.”
Councillor David Ward, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Bradford Council, was more forthright.
He said: “The sooner they (BCR) go the better, and it will be sooner rather than later.
“We were always unhappy about the fact that something we regard as being the responsibility of the Council for regeneration was being privatised, with the inevitable secrecy that followed. It was an abdication of responsibilities.
“It had to be very much an open and transparent process if it was to be successful. I believe we should bring regeneration back in-house with very strong leadership.
“We were over ambitious and had far too many grand schemes. The development of Bradford was always more likely to be on an incremental basis to make something a success and then move on to the next thing.
“Things like the canal project and the world mile looked great when they took them across to Cannes, but were never likely to succeed.
“There was a lack of understanding of Bradford. The wealth did not exist for these schemes. We are not a Leeds, Sheffield or Manchester in terms of our economy. There was a basic failure to understand the deprivation in Bradford.
“The cost of BCR is obviously financial, in terms of the running of the organisation, but the even greater cost is the lost chance for development.
Council leader Kris Hopkins was unavailable for comment.