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Speakers' corner planned for Bradford
11:00am Friday 5th October 2012 in Bradford
A move to establish a permanent “speakers’ corner” in Bradford is under way, with the first events set to take place during Local Democracy Week later this month.
The idea is to ape the 150-year-old Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park to give Bradfordians a platform to spout off on whatever takes their fancy, from politics to the weather.
A steering group made up of people from organisations including Bradford University, Bradford Council, the Council for Mosques, the Trades Council and the Workers Educational Association has been meeting with Peter Bradley, of the Speakers’ Corner Trust, which is hoping to establish the facility.
The idea is to have a dedicated place where organised events can take place, with people speaking for up to 60 seconds on their particular bugbear or hobbyhorse, and also to host impromptu debates and speeches.
Mr Bradley said: “The original Speakers’ Corner remains a powerful symbol of the rights to free expression and public assembly which lie at the heart of all our rights as citizens and an inspiration to millions all over the world who are still struggling for theirs.”
Discussions with Bradford Council are continuing over where a speakers’ corner could be sited in the city centre.
Mr Bradley said: “Over the course of the next year we hope it will be possible to create a Speakers’ Corner in the heart of the city centre as a symbol of citizens’ rights and a platform for expression and engagement.
“That new space will also be the focus for programmes of events designed to give everyone the opportunity to get involved in discussion and debate about the things that matter to them.”
To showcase the idea, a number of “taster” events will be held during Local Democracy Week, from October 15 to 21.
Mr Bradley said: “These will include an opportunity for as many local people as possible to speak for 60 seconds on a subject of their choice at a temporary Speakers’ Corner in the city centre, a meeting to discuss whether the legal system meets the needs of ordinary people, one examining the state of democracy in the UK, several for schools and one to discuss the impact of cuts in public funding on local services and communities.”