THERE WAS some good news for Bradford in the latest economic figures produced by the Office for National Statistics.

Bradford’s status as a Producer City, with well above the national average level of manufacturing industry, means that it benefits from uplifts in industrial production – and that sector is currently undergoing something of a boost.

The ONS figures showed that industrial output grew month-on-month for the sixth time in a row for the first time in 23 years.

Production and manufacturing output surged by 0.7% in September, the best performance of the year so far.

Despite the good news, though, economists were warning that all in the garden is far from rosy, citing Brexit uncertainty, the low exchange rate for the pound and, worst of all – apparently – a disastrous period for the construction industry.

It suffered a decline of 1.6 per cent in September, meaning it had fallen for a third successive quarter putting the building sector into a “technical recession” for the first time since 2012.

But hang on a minute….

With the Government pushing more and more housebuilding, local authorities like Bradford slavishly following (despite recent evidence showing that their targets are now seriously over-stated), and planning rules being relaxed to allow further intrusion into our precious green spaces, surely the builders should be booming?

Interestingly, the ONS figures were preceded by 24 hours by warnings from housebuilders Redrow, and estate agents Countrywide, that the UK housing market was slowing down.

This, they claimed, was not due to the fact there weren’t enough houses but the fact that people weren’t buying them because of “ongoing political and economic uncertainty.”

But if people didn’t want to spend money on new houses, how is it that Redrow’s average selling price increased from £352,000 to £371,000 in the current year to date?

Perhaps there’s a clue in the Countrywide statement, which reported that London sales were “resilient”, helping to offset a slowdown in house sales in the rest of the UK.

Could we take from this, perhaps, that there are plenty of houses on the market but people (outside the capital) don’t want to pay the current prices?

But, surely, you ask, if there are lots of houses that people aren’t buying all the builders have to do is reduce the prices?

You might think that - but I can’t help wondering whether the reality is that builders would sooner control supply in the hope that it will eventually drive people to pay those higher prices.

Which might explain why Redrow, despite winning a long and bitter battle to build 440 houses on the Sty Lane/Greenhill site at Bingley, still haven’t turned a single sod more than 13 months later.

It cannot be that they are still working on detailed planning permission; with all the money and time they spent over the years on fighting local residents in and out of the courts, confident of their success, surely they had all their plans in place and ready to go?

There are many similar battles being fought with a range of developers across the district, on top of those already lost.

The arguments being forwarded, for instance, by campaigners in Bierley, who are gearing up for their second fight against a developer’s plans to build 116 homes on green space at Spen View Lane, are strikingly similar to those advanced by the Greenhill Action Group.

The developers’ response is also sadly predictable: “Given the Council’s lack of a five-year deliverable housing land supply, there is a clear presumption in favour of this development.”

It’s an argument that might carry more weight if we thought developers would actually get on and build the new homes.

When a developer can charge tens of thousands of pounds more or less for the same house built with the same materials on similarly-valued land in a different part of the country, it’s clear that the construction industry holds all the aces – regardless of local housing need and regardless of the impact on the UK economy.

Sports scheme has power to bind our communities

BRADFORD City’s Community Foundation project to attract more ethnic minority supporters, which has just won a £34,000 grant, is a brilliant project.

One City - Building a Stronger Britain Together aims to encourage more members of the black and minority ethnic communities, including those from eastern Europe and refugees, to become Bantams fans.

What better way could there be to instil civic and community pride across all communities than supporting your brilliant local football team? As we saw with this weekend’s Remembrance events, shared experience builds some of the strongest bonds.

Whatever Carlton Bolling has, we need to bottle it quickly!

THE HEAD and staff at Carlton Bolling deserve the highest praise for their fantastic turnaround from a school in special measures just over two years ago to one now rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. It’s a magnificent achievement that shows just what can be achieved with the right people and the right mindset.

There are two key paragraphs in the report that say it all: “All staff and pupils share the headteacher’s highly aspirational vision for the school. They are absolutely committed to being successful and working as one community to achieve their ambitions.

“Pupils’ behaviour and attitudes to learning are exemplary. Pupils want to come to school and want to learn, and they work hard to achieve all of which they are capable.”

Bradford Council needs to somehow find a way to bottle what Carlton Bolling now has and spread it across the district.