A population explosion could bankrupt Bradford Council if the resulting demands on public services are not dealt with, the authority leader has warned.

Councillor David Green spoke out as a hard-hitting report revealed there would be an extra 44,400 people in the district by 2021, who will need schools, homes, jobs and healthcare.

Bradford’s population has been rising faster than the national average for years, mainly down to a high birth rate.

There are currently around 4,000 more births than deaths in the district each year, and this trend is set to continue.

A new, far-reaching report by Bradford Council spells out the strain this will put on the district.

  •  About 10,000 jobs will have to be created by 2021, just to keep the same level of employment as there is now
  •  The district needs 200 extra primary school classes and 320 extra secondary school classes to keep up with the growing number of children
  •  The number of new homes which will need to be built each year is between 1,695 and 2,565.

Coun Green has now warned that this extra pressure, coupled with public sector cuts, means “something’s got to give”.

He said: “If there’s no investment in education, schools will be bursting at the seams.”

Coun Green said the Council and other public services already had plans in place to react to the growing population.

He said: “If we carried on as usual – which we are not going to do – trying to do everything that we are doing at the moment, regardless of the population growth we would be bankrupt, and with the population growth we would be bankrupt a lot quicker.”

He said essential services, like child protection, education and social work, would always get priority, because in some cases they were “a matter of life and death”.

But this would mean the Council could do less in other areas, like regeneration and culture, he said.

Coun Green said in a few months the Council would be publishing its Local Plan (formerly the Local Development Framework, or LDF), setting out which areas of land would be set aside for housing or industry.

He refused to be drawn on whether the district had the capacity for the number of homes needed, but said: “Is it going to be easy to provide the numbers? No.

“I hope that when people look at the LDF, they will have this report in mind.

“Clearly there will be further discussions and debate to be had on it, once it’s published and goes to its inquiry.

“But do I expect everybody to be happy? I would be very surprised.”

Coun Green said it wasn’t just new homes that were needed, but all the infrastructure that went with them.

He said: “We have also got to provide land to create the jobs, to educate people and to put in roads and railways to get people from A to B.”

And Coun Green also urged people not to blame the Council when they were unhappy about development.

He said: “Another thing people have got to remember is that not much of the district belongs to the Council.

“People can have concerns about proposals to build houses or factories, but actually if it’s a privately-owned piece of land, our only role is planning.”

The new public document, called Understanding Bradford District, collects all the latest facts and figures about the area into one place.

Described by Coun Green as a “warts and all” snapshot of the district, it will be used by the public sector to shape its priorities for the coming years.

The document will soon be available for the public to view, via Bradford Council’s website.