As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to say how much I’ve enjoyed my first seven months as the Chair of Bradford Civic Society and reflect on a few of our highlights.
More than ever, our group has been leading the conversation on regeneration and heritage matters in Bradford. Earlier in the year we co-hosted a debate about the future of Darley Street with our friends from Bradford Politics in the Pub, which went on to become a focal point for wider conversations about the struggling ‘Top of Town’ and markets area of the city. In summer, we hosted our first-ever panel discussion in City Park, featuring senior officers from Bradford Council talking us through their ongoing plans for Bradford City Centre and taking questions from our members. Later on in 2018, we also hosted an event to discuss the future of Little Germany, and we ended our season of talks by welcoming the Leader of Bradford Council and the Executive Member for Regeneration to discuss the city’s long-term regeneration plans. These talks have offered a genuine insight into what’s really happening in our city, and have provided the Civic Society with the opportunity to enjoy honest discussions with some of the key people involved.
I have immensely enjoyed meeting lots of inspirational people and making new friends around the district. From committed council officers and community leaders, to the many Bradfordians who’ve got in touch to ask how they can help their city, it’s encouraging to know that Bradford is full of passion and ambition. Long may that continue.
There has been action too. Our campaign to encourage Leeds City Region to bid for government funding on behalf of Bradford Odeon attracted over 2,700 signatures, and I’m delighted to say that it worked. Leeds City Region did indeed choose to back Bradford Odeon, and I’m confident that 2018 will bring yet more good news about one of our city’s most-loved buildings. We’ve also taken the opportunity to raise awareness of ‘shabby shopfronts’ in the city centre, and I hope to do more to combat this problem in 2018. On a more positive note, we scooped two national Civic Voice design awards for Sunbridge Wells, which now take pride of place inside Wallers Bar. Check them out next time you’re in there, and don’t forget to show your Civic Society members’ card to enjoy 10% off at the bar!
Finally, and perhaps the thing I have enjoyed more than anything, we’ve really been flying the flag for Bradford’s heritage this year. From our packed tour of Undercliffe and our sell-out City Hall ghost tours, to the exclusive visit inside The Odeon, we’ve been helping Bradfordians discover great things about their city that they never knew – or perhaps they just needed a reminder. I hope this will give us the perfect platform to launch our ambitious ‘Blue Plaques for Bradford’ project in 2018.
I would like to thank all Bradford Civic Society members – old and new – for their continued support and their dedication to making Bradford a better place for everyone. Thanks if you’ve joined the society, supported us as a business, attended meetings on wet weekday evenings, signed petitions, designed posters for us, written articles about us, told your friends about how great Bradford is, followed us on Twitter, liked us on Facebook or bought me a pint.
I can’t wait to get stuck in again in 2018, but in the meantime I would like to wish you and your families a happy and peaceful Christmas break.
Chair, Bradford Civic Society