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BILLION POUND BOOST FOR BRADFORD

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Over a billion pounds of public and private investment will flow into Bradford over the next five years; unemployme...
Over a billion pounds of public and private investment will flow into Bradford over the next five years; unemployment is falling; and major modernisation of the city centre, Aire valley and Manningham are underway, says an independent report* out today.

In the report, a team of inspectors from the Audit Commission judged Bradford MDC's regeneration activities to be of a good, two-star standard with promising prospects for improvement.

They found that some major urban renaissance and conservation schemes have already been highly successful, including Little Germany and Saltaire, which have generated investment and economic activity. Manningham Mills, an iconic building for Bradford, is currently being refurbished, attracting£120m in private investment, and is intended to lead the regeneration of that part of the city.

Audit Commission relationship manager Peter Catterick said:

'The council has successfully supported activity which has created 1,500 jobs and helped 1,100 disadvantaged residents into employment in the past two years. These figures have contributed significantly to the 10 per cent drop in local unemployment levels. Local communities have also benefited from environmental improvements and action to reduce levels of crime. This is in line with the council's commitment to help build safer and stronger communities.'

Inspectors found the following strengths:

Following extensive consultation, priority has been given to regenerating the city centre, Aire valley and Manningham. All three are excellent opportunities to encourage investment and economic growth and transform the image of Bradford.

Significant public and private investment of over a billion pounds will flow into Bradford over the next five years. The direct impact of these projects will not be seen for several years but they are already having a positive psychological impact as building work starts.

The council and its partners, such as the Learning and Skills Council, Job Centre Plus a nd the area-based regeneration programmes, work well together to provide a good range of support linking local people and communities to job opportunities.

However:

The council has not communicated its aims and priorities for regeneration widely and these are still not clear to many residents, businesses and investors. Some believe they are being left out of the process.

The council has no clear vision of how Bradford's assets, which include its social and physical diversity, the university, its built and natural heritage, central location in the UK and large catchment population, can be built on to present a positive image of the district and promote regeneration.

The council has no specific aim to encourage innovation in the district and to turn ideas, generated by the diverse community and in the university, into viable businesses.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations including:

Set high targets in key areas such as employment, levels of investment, and the creation of new business, and put systems in place to measure how well the council's regeneration projects are working to achieve those targets.

Ensure that regeneration projects maximise opportunities to include and bring together different communities across the district.

Make sure all relevant staff are given training and development opportunities to build on the skills needed to deliver successful regeneration projects.

The 2020 vision for Bradford is to have a knowledge-based and diverse economy with well-educated, skilled and healthy people who respect and celebrate differences. It will be a district with a modern communications and transport infrastructure, and a place where people are proud to live with a vibrant culture and excellent public services. The community strategy produced by the council in partnership with Bradford Vision, the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) for Bradford, sets out a five-year plan for delivering the vision.

* Today's regeneration report.

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