BRADFORD could be due for a renaissance that mirrors the rise of the England football team, according to the former director of operations at Bradford City.

David Baldwin, who is currently Chief Executive of Burnley FC, also heads up the Bradford Economic Partnership. Yesterday he spoke at a meeting of over 100 people, all of whom have contributed to “team Bradford” in the past year. He said that positive developments in the district meant the Bradford district could pull off a change in fortunes for Bradford similar to Gareth Southgate’s squad.

The event was hosted by Bradford Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, and attended by over 100 top figures from local business and key partners in the city and district.

They were told of some of the highlights of the past 12 months, including the district being recognised as having the fourth highest level of improvement in pupil progress at GCSE level in the country, and Barclays Bank naming Bradford as the best place in the country to start a business.

Cllr Hinchcliffe opened the event, titled “Pioneering, confident and connected” by pointing out that due to funding cuts from central government, Bradford Council will have halved in size between 2010 and 2020. She said that because of this, it was more important than ever before that the Council work with partners from different sectors.

Mr Baldwin spoke about Bradford’s potential to defy expectations by looking at the talent that is already in the district.

He said: “It is not necessarily about bringing new businesses to Bradford, it can be about helping the existing businesses here to grow.

“We have to have everyone’s noses in the right direction.

“We need to sing the praises of what we have done as a district.

“Look at the England team. Who’d have believed four years ago they would get to the World Cup semi finals? Since the last tournament we won the under 17s World Cup, Gareth Southgate was promoted from within.

“Similarly we should be proud of what we have achieved in this district. Bradford has that World Cup energy. A lot of work has gone in behind the scenes, and now Bradford is ready for its own ‘World Cup’ success.”

The meeting also heard from the founder of Bradford Literature Festival Syima Aslam. The 2018 festival ended on Sunday, and she told the crowd that while final visitor numbers had not been counted yet, they know they have “smashed” last years total of 50,000 visitors. She added: “It really acted as a showcase for the city, people came from all round the country. The programme reflects the city of Bradford.”

Also speaking at the event was Anne Marie Canning, Chair of Bradford Opportunity Area Partnership Board. The board was set up to improve the life chances of the district’s young people, and she told the meeting that thousands of children in Bradford were already benefitting from millions of investment.