I find myself in the odd situation of largely agreeing with something that George Galloway said (I am paraphrasing here): That the Telegraph and Argus (local newspaper) is too cosy with local council and that this harms local debate. Although I don’t particularly think the T and A is as sinister in its motives as Galloway appears to suggest, it is certainly complacent and seems to do precious little in the way of actual investigation or journalism.
The T and A used to boast that it had more readers than all the national papers combined within the Bradford district. It doesn’t mention that anymore. There used to be news vendors around the city centre. Now there are none. Whatever cachet it used to have, whatever purpose it used to serve, is dying even more rapidly than print press as a whole. The very particular death of the organ of a diseased city.
One of the problems I have with the T and A currently is its refusal to critically address the situation with the Odeon in Bradford city centre. The council has seemingly decided to pull down the Odeon to make way for more shops and offices. This is a ridiculous decision. Bradford is full to overflowing with unused office space. Soon we will have the offices of Thomas Cook joining the list of purpose built offices within the centre ready for immediate occupation.
And the idea of utilising the area for shops is even stupider. Bradford has a slew of closed and boarded up retail premises. We also have a strong track history of demolishing previously useful buildings to create new shops and then not actually managing to build the promised stores. Rawson Market’s old site was demolished to create a new and dynamic market hall. After the market hall failed to materialise and most of the market traders in the city had gone bust it was redeveloped into a couple of cut price shops and a stack of empty units.
Westfield is the same situation on a scale so large as to become farcical. We have a pit seemingly swallowing in the lifeblood and ambition of the city where WH Smiths, BHS, Mothercare, Pizza Hut and a raft of smaller businesses used to be.
This, clearly, is not enough failure for the council, and not something that the T and A is particularly bothered in covering. We have no coverage of the real and vocal opposition to creating yet another hole where our heritage once was.
I wish I could say that the blithe reprinting of establishment agenda as news was a new phenomenon. Unfortunately I would be as disingenuous as a typical T and A front page: in the early nineties the local (then newly privatised) water company floated the idea of standpipes and cutting off water to homes to deal with the drought. The T and A seemingly published their press releases as front page news without fact checking them. The crisis was averted without the standpipes ever being needed. Not at all because they allegedly couldn’t be used as it was impossible to isolate their supply while cutting off the water supply around them . . .