Saturday, 16 June 2012

Westfield - a response to a commenter


An anonymous commentor (why the need to hide - I'm not going to eat you for heaven's sake) has a bit of an ill-informed go at me. I've fisked the comment - not a regular habit here but I thought worthwhile on this occasion:

"I've just read your piece in issue 7 of Bradford Howdo? magazine, headed with this quote 'Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits'"

The original piece on this blog was titled:

Quite apt really, because you haven't actually ever done anything to help the regeneration in Bradford.

Here’s a selected few things (from memory) I've had a hand in:

  • Secured the restoration of Manningham Mills
  • Improvements to Manningham Park
  • The rescuing of Eastbrook Hall
  • Robert’s Park, Saltaire
  • Bradford International Markets Festival
  • City Park
  • Impressions Gallery & Gallery One
  • Refurbishment of John Street Market
  • Airedale greenways project
  • Airedale Partnership
  • Broadband enablement of the whole District
  • Improvements to Keighley market

I find the disdain and apathy which oozes through in your piece, along with your derogatory use off the word 'agitators' to describe people who are sick to death of inept politicians and corporations who have destroyed a section of Bradford, deeply offensive.

While I suspect the “offence” here is pretty false, I’ll take the sentiment as honest. But “disdain” and “apathy” aren’t sentiments I recognise from my thoughts – do people really think we are less frustrated, less concerned, more unbothered about the prospects of development at Westfield?

But you're a councillor aren't you, so we shouldn't expect anything else.

Understand that people who have lived in Bradford are utterly disgusted with you, the councillors and the corporations who have decimated Bradford. And your snide use of descriptive language against people with a valid repulsion at what's happened is a disgrace.

I used the term “agitator” as an accurate description – it isn’t remotely snide. Here’s what I said:

I’m going to start with the unpopular bit – throughout the development the council has acted in good faith and has delivered on the promises it made to developers, Yorkshire Forward, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and through them the European Commission. Occupiers, agitators and those riding the bandwagon of local annoyance may wish it to be otherwise but councils are in the business of running local services not developing shopping centres.

How long has that hole has been there? Why is it taking so long?

Broadway was demolished in 2006 which makes the ‘hole’ about six now – far too long as we’re oft reminded. But, as I tried to explain, development is down to the developer. I guess we could discuss a “compulsory purchase” of the site – on what grounds I have no idea – which would be opposed, would cost a couple of million in legal fees and would leave Bradford Council owning the “hole”. Perhaps the agitators and occupiers have the £200 million needed to build a shopping centre and know lots of retailers who want to set up shop in the new centre?

Whole cities get rebuilt after the tragedy of war in a fraction of the time it takes to build a bloody shopping center (sic).

With billions in public investment. Bradford Council has quite significant reserves – around £180 million – but not enough to build a shopping centre.

You should be ashamed of yourself, but you're not are you? Like the council and Westfield you simply don't care.

When I became Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration in 2000, a friend remarked that Bradford was beyond redemption and I was wasting my time. I said then and still believe that we are better being condemned for trying to do something to improve our City than doing nothing. I’m proud of the efforts we made – including the hundreds of hours trying to get Broadway out of the ground. We might have been mistaken but it wasn’t because we didn’t care. I don’t think anyone holding the Regeneration Portfolio holder’s role before or since showed more passion or commitment to bettering the City than I did.

Obviously I can’t comment about Westfield. I hope they care but they may not – go ask them.

 (I won't be accepting any more Anonymous comments on this subject - if you've something to say, be honest about it and give your name)


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