A GROUP of Yorkshire’s most prolific business and community leaders gathered in Bradford this week to voice their support for the district’s UK City of Culture bid as the hotly contested competition enters its final weeks.

Their backing comes at a pivotal time for the district’s bid, with the UK City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, headed up by Sir Phil Redmond CBE, expected to visit the district imminently ahead of the winner being announced at the end of the month.

The event was organised by Nasar Hussain, founder and managing director of Bradford-based telecommunications company, ITC, an award-winning national connectivity and communications provider and one of the official Bid Champions for Bradford 2025.

Mr Hussain said: "We were asked Bradford are you with me, are you there? I think it’s fair to say we have answered yes, Bradford we are with you and we are here.

"The last few months leading up to us being shortlisted has created a real buzz in the city like never before, real excitement and anticipation of what could be and a feeling of being on the cusp of real and positive change.

"We have support from the private and voluntary sector and we seem to have especially engaged our wonderful multicultural community in this process.

"We are looking forward to welcoming the judges next week to showcase our art and culture as well as our wonderful city.”

Kim Johnston, regional partnership director in the North at CityFibre, a full-fibre platform which is currently investing £75 million in Bradford as part of a four-year full-fibre network roll-out across the city, said: “CityFibre is thrilled to be supporting Bradford district’s UK City of Culture 2025 bid.

"The City of Culture title is all about aspiration and the investment CityFibre is making in Bradford is helping to ensure Bradford has the digital infrastructure to bring the myriad of creative and cultural ideas to life.”

Sohail Ali, partner at DLA Piper, said: “As a homegrown product of Bradford, who has lived, worked and travelled in multiple cities and continents across Europe, America and Asia but, ultimately, has returned to the city, I am hugely supportive of Bradford’s UK City of Culture bid 2025.

"Not only do I think that Bradford district is thoroughly deserving of the accolade with its rich and enterprising culture and diversity, but the title will help turbocharge the success, innovation and cohesiveness of Britain’s youngest and most dynamic city.”

The UK City of Culture designation has had a dramatic once-in-a-generation impact on previous host cities, raising the bar for arts and cultural activities and acting as a catalyst for inward investment; boosting visitor numbers and creating jobs and opportunities for skills development for young people.

More than 35 partners from every sector of the business community have come on board as official supporters of the bid including Bradford Bulls, Emerald Group Publishing, Group Alfa, Jinnah Group, Morrisons, Rushbond PLC, The Broadway and Yorkshire Building Society.