Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Home Town

A new think tank report suggests that my home town - Bradford in West Yorkshire - is beyond redemption and that its population would be well advised to move out and go to Oxford, London or Cambridge. The same is also said about Sunderland. At the heart of the argument is the assumption that the various attempts to stimulate development through regeneration projects have failed.

Bradford is a poor place to be. When we returned to live and work in Yorkshire in 1998 we chose to live in Harrogate. We looked at Bradford, but soon were despairing. Both Lynne ("she who must be obeyed" a.k.a. "her indoors") and I were born and brought up in Bradford and were saddened by the state it had got itself to. Leeds, just a few miles away, was vibrant and growing. Bradford seemed to be in  serious decline.

However, the report is a little barmy. The thesis is that we are living in a knowledge economy - people in the right mind should want to live in the heart or hinterland of a knowledge powerhouse - this means (to the authors) Oxford, Cambridge or London. What bollocks (a technical term meaning "arrant nonsense").  Leeds is a vibrant research centre just 11 mies from Bradford. The Dales are a tourist mecca and Bradford is close to the centre of the UK.

While current regeneration projects may be less effective than intended, this does not imply that other interventions cannot make a difference.

If we can consider the reconstruction of Afghanistan, then the ongoing development of Bradford cannot be that much of a challenge.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, has quickly dismissed the report. Lets hope everyone else follows suite.

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