THERE’S a little story I often tell when I’m asked what it is I love most about Bradford...

In the late 1980s I worked in York and it often struck me that many of the residents were more than a little stand-offish with strangers.

I put that down to the fact York is frequently overwhelmed with tourists and visitors and it must be very difficult to deal with such an invasion if you just want to quietly get on with life in your own home town.

Nonetheless, try to chat to someone in a queue at a fish ‘n’ chip shop there and, chances are, you will get the cold shoulder, even if you have a Yorkshire accent.

In contrast, the first time I did that in a Bradford chippy, after moving here in 1992, I ended up in such an open and friendly conversation that my wife complained her chips were “stone cold” when I got home. In fact, I think the elderly woman I was chatting to was on the verge of inviting us round for tea with her family by the time we parted.

That, I tell those who ask, is what I love most about Bradford: the friendliness of the people.

The city has engaged with very many offcumdens, as some still call them. It’s a trend that dates back centuries and, by and large, Bradfordians have welcomed those from other countries, especially those in need, with warmth and generosity.

Of course, it’s not all sweetness and light, and there will always be tensions where people don’t take the time to understand each other, but not for nothing are we an official City of Sanctuary.

Which made it all the more surprising when a former colleague sadly told me, back in the late 1990s, that his decision to emigrate was largely based on the fact it was “hard to be gay” in Bradford.

I’m certain that, were he visiting today, he wouldn’t recognise the place – and he would definitely be overjoyed to hear Bradford Pride is returning to the city centre tomorrow after its exile at Odsal stadium, where Bradford Bulls have hosted the event for the last two years.

The decision by Bradford Council to allow the event to take place on Morley Street (City Park is already booked) was welcomed by the Council’s LGBT Champion, Councillor Richard Dunbar, who told the Telegraph & Argus: “I’m really pleased Bradford Pride is returning to the city centre this year. It will be a great event and further prove how inclusive and LGBT+ friendly we are as a city.

“We are fast becoming known for being a friendly and open district and so would encourage as many people as possible to come down and support this community-focused event.”

And there – twice – is that word again: “friendly.” The LGBT Bradford website goes so far as to describe it as “one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the UK,” a notion celebrated enthusiastically earlier this year with LGBT History Month.

Bradford Pride could not be better timed, with the Government due next week to publish an action plan aimed at advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the UK.

The move comes on the back of an extraordinarily large survey of more than 108,000 members of the LGBT community.

The survey was presented to Cabinet as campaigners called on the Prime Minister to compensate up to 20,000 gay men who were convicted over sexual behaviour which is no longer a crime.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967 but remained an offence while serving with the armed forces until 1991. Around 100,000 men were convicted of consenting adult same-sex behaviour following the outlawing in 1885 of all homosexual acts; with at least 15,000 of these men being convicted after the Sexual Offences Act was legislated in 1967.

According to the PM’s official spokesman the report, presented to Cabinet this week by equalities minister Penny Mordaunt, prompted Theresa May to tell senior ministers the UK could be “proud” of being “a world leader in advancing LGBT rights” and it had achieved “significant progress” over recent years.

But she added: “The survey results show we have more to do to improve the lives of LGBT people and make this a country where no-one feels they need to hide who they are.”

The action plan will be published ahead of the annual Pride celebrations in London on July 7.

Bradford, too, has more to do.

I was in York two years ago when its annual Pride events took place and the atmosphere was amazing. The parade, led by a double-decker bus and a 50-metre long rainbow flag, was huge and seemed to take over the whole city. Thousands took part, many of them straight, in a joyous celebration.

For once, York shrugged off its stand-offishness and threw its arms open.

It would be good to think that, next year, Bradford could welcome the event back to City Park and fully embrace its goals of promoting equality and challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s time for our city to live up to its billing and truly be proud of Pride.