A group of senior business leaders have come together to lobby and meet with MP’s and parliamentarians to pledge to work closely with each other to promote the Bradford District economy.
At a meeting at Westminster on 11 September, the business delegation, organised by Bradford Breakthrough, met with all of the District’s MPs and several Bradford-based members of the Lords to consider how they might pool their influence and resources to promote Bradford.
The two-hour cross-party meeting discussed a variety of major issues: the campaign to improve transport, educational attainment levels in schools, the rebirth of the Odeon, and plans for the University of Bradford medical school. Other topics included the relocation of Channel 4, devolution, the Well Bradford project and access to high-speed rail.
Speaking after the event, Breakthrough’s Chief Executive, Trevor Higgins expressed his gratitude to both the business leaders and the parliamentarians of all parties who had helped put the meeting together.
“This new approach will mean we can work together more closely in supporting the District’s economic and social well-being. I firmly believe that Bradford has turned the corner and that great things are happening right across the District (and beyond) so this is an opportune right time for us to come together to drive improvement still further.”
“Bradford Breakthrough is the ‘voice of big business’ for the Bradford District; our members include most of the District’s largest organisations. In total, we employ more than 30,000 people and make a very significant contribution to the area’s GVA.
“Our parliamentarians recognise the greater impact that can be made when they work collectively on behalf of their localities, where appropriate setting aside party political differences in pursuit of shared interests. Other cities have done this; we want to show that Bradford can do even better.”
“We firmly believe that, on selected issues, working as ‘Team Bradford’ we can make a much stronger pitch for Bradford and its people.
These sentiments were strongly echoed by MPs and Peers.
‘If Bradford’s MPs and Peers bat together we can make sure our great city gets its fair share of attention and resources. Bradford means not just the city itself but the towns and villages of the Aire, Wharfe and Worth Valleys. Gaining a place for Bradford on the new transpennine high-speed line is crucial but so is restoring the Skipton to Colne rail link which will allow-direct trains from Shipley , Bingley and Keighley to Manchester’
The outcome of the meeting was unanimous support for closer working between businesses and parliamentarians. Going forward, it was agreed that the group should meet twice a year.
In the short term, the two urgent issues were seen as the Bradford Medical School and the rebirth of the Odeon Cinema. It was agreed to hold an interim meeting in November to monitor progress and to explore how to maximise support for both initiatives. The meeting in November is expected to be attended by the Education minister whom the group intend to lobby together for the medical school.