Si Cinningham, chair of Bradford Civic Society, writes this week's Getting Bradford Back to Business guest blog......

Some time ago, the Vice Chair of Bradford Civic Society was doing one of the guided walks of Little Germany we’re sometimes asked to host for visitors to Bradford.

This particular tour was for some architectural historian types from down south, and this one fella stopped in his tracks, took in the striking streetscape of Vicar Lane, and declared that this was the “best-preserved merchants’ quarter” he’d ever seen in all his travels across Europe.

Coming back into town recently, I’d forgotten how beautiful Bradford can look – especially when the sun hits that unmistakable golden stone – and I’ve enjoyed getting reacquainted with some of the things we’ve perhaps previously taken for granted.

Whether it’s been a quick pint at The Record Cafe, having a wander around Little Germany, or enjoying the majestic widescreen at Pictureville cinema once again, I’ve relished being a tourist in my own city, and have been impressed by Bradford BID’s efforts to keep our streets alive and animated as things slowly creep back to life.

It’s also important for us to focus on the future too, particularly with so much on the horizon for Bradford – not least our ambitious bid to be the UK City of Culture for 2025.

These are tough times for city centres all around the world, yet there are glimmers of hope in Bradford that should give us reason to be excited for what lies ahead.

New independent shops, bars, and restaurants have opened at the Top of Town – with the promise of more to come; work continues on both the Bradford Live and Darley Street Market sites; Assembly on North Parade has expanded and welcomed new creative workers to the city centre; and plans to improve the streets around there – making it a much more welcoming, pedestrian-friendly destination – are being worked on imminently.

There’s also the work that Bradford BID’s ‘Alive’ pillar is doing – in collaboration with others – to ensure that Bradford is putting its best foot forward as we gradually welcome more people back into town.

Old buildings will be illuminated; new blue plaques will be installed; new works of public art will appear; and carefully curated, socially-distant events will be devised to delight the people of Bradford, while supporting our brilliant business community.

I know I am optimistic and ambitious for Bradford, but I don’t walk around the city with rose-tinted specs on. I see the same stuff we all see – urban dereliction, small irritating things like grot-spots or low-level crime, people driving like idiots – and I can’t promise that those things will disappear overnight. But what I can promise is this: The people who are working hard to do something about it, to make Bradford a much better city – people like Bradford BID – are doing the job with so much passion, vigour, and commitment, that it really does give cause to be hopeful, and to imagine much brighter days ahead.