BIG banks have cut finance for Bradford SMEs by £490 million in five years, research shows.

It matches a regional trend for Yorkshire with every local authority apart from Barnsley and Rotherham seeing a drop in SME lending from 2014 to 2018.

The figures give one clear message to Bradford Chamber of Trade, which feels it represents the North South divide when it comes to money.

SME lending in Bradford fell by percent in 2014 to 2018 - the second largest drop in Yorkshire and the Humber.

While Northern regions suffered, London had the smallest fall.

Val Summerscales, who has been the secretary for Bradford Chamber of Trade for more than 30 years, told the Telegraph & Argus: "It's the North South divide.

"They've decided that the schemes that businesses want to do in the North bear less than the return they'd get in the South.

"That point is plain to see."

The reduction in SME lending comes as ONS data reveals that 25 per cent of bank branches in Bradford closed between 2014 and 2018 - the highest proportion in the region.

At a time when the major banks have reduced funding for SMEs, official statistics also show that Bradford is ranked as the second most deprived local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber.

However, the squeeze in SME finance has not mirrored the number of new businesses in the city.

Statistics show that between 2014 and 2018, the number of businesses in Bradford rose by 15.2 per cent - the sixth highest increase in Yorkshire and the Humber and above the average in the region of 14 per cent.

Mrs Summerscales explained that Bradford Council is interested in getting the most out of government business schemes to tackle the ongoing fight to save our highstreets.

"Bradford Council is always trying to tap into various government funds," she said.

It was a fruitful year for new, small businesses on the whole.

2019 was the year of Ivegate resurgence. The once-beleaguered street has welcomed a number of new drinking spots.

It's understood there are more plans for the street in the coming months. It has been all change at nearby Sunbridgewells, with a number of new names popping up such as Leeds-based Nomadic Beers taking on the Rose & Crown. Further up, new club The Rabbit Hole opened in the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, while the Silver Fox opened on Rawson Square. Meanwhile Remy International Winebar opened on Broadway.