BRADFORD Council has stepped smack into the middle of a minefield with its plans to restrict parking around Valley Parade on match days.

It’s an age-old problem for local authorities that affects just about every community with a well-supported football club.

As a young trainee reporter, I can remember similar issues with fans parking in the packed terraced streets around Coventry City’s Highfield Road ground in the late 1970s. They were virtually impassable on match days and I can recall trying to get a direct response to complaints from chairman Jimmy Hill after the issue exploded yet again.

I failed – but the club’s statement effectively said “we have sympathy with the residents but it’s been the same for decades and it’s only once a fortnight on average….”

There is, of course, no easy answer. Bradford Council is caught between a rock and a hard place because it knows full well that it could deter Bradford City fans from attending home matches but it also has to think about local businesses and residents which suffer from the invasion of fans.

The parking restrictions that might deter fans are little different to the complete wipe-out of parking spaces that may well deter small business customers. And residents, who must surely know what they’re letting themselves in for living near a football ground, are still inconvenienced if they head out to get their shopping on a Saturday morning, for instance, and come back to find they have to park miles from their home.

And, no, they shouldn’t have to change their habits on match days just because a fan doesn’t want to have to walk too far.

On the flip side, fans are used to having to walk lengthy distances to games. Many Bantams fans already walk a fair way, as anyone who drives along Canal Road, for example, on a matchday will testify.

And it’s not uncommon for spectators at away games to be marched for miles from bus and rail stations to a rival team’s ground.

So, what’s to be done?

The Council’s draft Traffic Regulation Order would restrict on-street parking on matchdays between noon and 9pm in streets such as Thorncliffe Road, Cliffe Terrace, Burlington Street, Midland Road, Valley Parade and South Parade.

Not surprisingly, the club fears it could drive away fans on matchdays and affect its ability to stage vital money-spinning events on others.

Online fan forums suggest they could be right. Football fans are notoriously fickle: a run of poor results can turn some of them away for good.

Luckily, Bradford City fans seem to be made of sterner stuff – although the club’s brilliant pioneering policy on season ticket prices has a good deal to do with it.

Making it harder for them to access the ground, though, could well be a step too far.

And the last thing Bradford City – let alone the city of Bradford – needs is to see support slipping away at a time when the club is finally getting on to a sound financial footing and enjoying strong performance on the pitch.

The Council also needs to strongly consider the spin-off benefits for local businesses – especially local hostelries and food outlets – as well as the impact on tills of those fans who visit the city centre, both before and after matches.

It’s tempting to say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but that would be to completely disregard the genuine concerns of some local businesses and residents as well as to ignore potential road safety issues.

So the Council needs to find a compromise. There are parcels of land (off Midland Road and Valley Road, for instance) that could be adapted for parking at relatively low cost and some slightly further afield that could make park and ride sites (or a longer walk!).

Imposing new restrictions without providing alternatives will only serve to push the problem to streets further from the ground or deter fans altogether.

And if the Council can’t provide a workable answer, it should leave well alone.

* If Only These Yobs Could Taste Their Own Medicine

THE sheer stupidity of some people beggars belief. Throwing bricks and other missiles at fire crews attending a blaze is outrageous behaviour that has become all too familiar - and now police in Bradford have had three vehicles put out of action by “mindless vandals”.

Anybody caught perpetrating such counter-productive, criminal acts deserves to be placed on a register so that next time their house is on fire or burgled, or their car crashed or torched, the emergency services refuse to attend.

Watch how they bleat when the boot’s on the other foot….

* Fifty deserve thanks for giving new lease of life to graveyard

RESPECT for the dead is a mark of a civilised society but changing religious beliefs and the more transitional nature of modern life has meant the final resting places of many of our forbears have been sadly neglected.

One example of such a location is the overgrown graveyard at St John’s Parish Church, in Hallcliffe, Baildon.

The last burial there took place in the 1960s and it was de-commissioned years before, despite it including the graves of four soldiers killed in WW2.

Now, thanks to a group of about 50 volunteers, it is starting to be returned to a more fitting condition.

There’s still a long way to go because it’s a huge site but, thanks to these hardy local residents and their helpers, this long-forgotten corner is on the way to getting back at least some of the dignity it deserves.