Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Urban Decay and Party Politics

17 February 2012 by Nicholas in Current Events

I read something massively disingenuous from a Labour Councillor suggesting that the current plight of Bradford’s city centre is solely the fault of the Conservatives and that Labour were doing their level best to sort it out. I double checked to see if I was right in my immediate instinctive response of being angry and assuming each party was as bad any of the others.

I was, of course. The death of Bradford’s markets (which, arguably, is down to the existence of supermarkets and single stop shopping destinations and only hastened by the city hall) was largely down to Labour deciding to demolish the rather lovely Rawson Market and replace it with pretty much nothing. Arguably the best positioned, certainly the most attractive of the city centre markets was demolished prior to their being any concrete option to replace it with. It’s now an oddly designed Wilkinson’s and massively dark and slightly inaccessible B and M. And some empty shops.

The current exodus of shops from the city centre is, of course, partially attributable to the Westfield development debacle. I had a quick look through the Telegraph and Argus’s online archives and couldn’t find the protracted and vociferous Labour opposition to it while they were out of government. I bet it’s just because the search feature on the site doesn’t work very well. It’s also partly down to the overall economy, which is a factor that every town and city is currently facing. And it is partly down to the decision by the current Labour administration to remove free parking from the city. Now, I don’t own a car and am in favour of public transport. But even I can see that this is a ridiculously bad idea. Then again I am not trying to blame the Conservatives for it.

Bradford is in a mess. There is no real obvious way out of it at the moment and the city is a culmination of bad ideas and woefully misspent public funds. I place that blame on the doorstep of the three main parties and their seeming ridiculous decision making. Blaming one or another for the problem rather than actually acknowledging the underlying reasons for it and working out a method of combating it seems rather indicative of the city and the decisions that have been botched on its behalf. We need the main parties to come up with ideas behind them and implement them quickly, while still planning for the long term. We don’t need snide and myopic comments. We need a consensus built on the best ideas presented, regardless of who by and what their agenda is. Divisive politics will only make everything worse.