When we unveiled our proposals and five-year business plan for the Business Improvement District (BID) on June 27, 2018, we totally omitted to account for the impact of the global pandemic of 2020.

Few people, if any, would have predicted that by September of this year, “social distancing” would be a common phrase or that we would all be walking around wearing masks.

Sadly, crystal balls have never actually worked and so that is the position we all find ourselves in.

It’s not ideal by any measure but Bradford has adapted to the situation that’s been forced upon us; we’ve changed our protocols and procedures, installed prominent signage and set out to ensure that we can all move forward in as safe a way as possible.

The BID has also adapted and played a significant part in the recovery process and plans.

We have supported and assisted many local businesses to keep up to date with and understand the changing rules and regulations; we have employed a new Business Engagement Officer, launched the LoyalFree app to encourage customers to return to our shops and taken on our two new “Bradvocates”.

The Bradvocates, our “advocates for Bradford”, are out and about in the city centre each day.

Their primary role is to interact with business levy-payers, the 600 or so city centre companies and organisations the BID represents, visiting them at regular intervals, being their eyes and the ears, and reporting any problems around the city through the correct channels so they can be quickly rectified.

As more people return to the city centre, they will also act as city centre guides for the public and they will really come into their own when exciting new projects like Bradford Live come to fruition and the city centre is awash with people visiting us for the first time.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in delays to one major project scheduled for launch this year, the Nightwatch scheme. This will replace the current Pubwatch scheme, offering a much better package aimed at linking together all businesses operating in the evening/night-time economy.

It will not only help to combat crime, but also drive the delivery of first-rate customer service using the “Best Bar None” scheme.

It is only postponed, though, and we aim to launch it in the New Year when it will help the city work towards gaining the coveted Purple Flag accreditation status.

It might seem a long way off right now but the BID, along with numerous other agencies and partnerships across the city, will work hard to ensure that not only do we get back to where we were, but we rise above that and achieve our loftier ambitions such as Purple Flag and the 2025 City of Culture.

Our goal is a vibrant and safe city where people will go to spend their time either with their families or their friends; a city we are all proud to be part of. Now that’s a future I hope we can all foresee!

  • The author of this article, Dave Downes, is Deputy Manager of the Broadway and Bradford BID's safe pillar group lead