Friday, 2 December 2011

Of course Bradford Council is pro-business! It just doesn't seem that way...


Bradford Council isn’t actively anti-business – indeed I’m sure that the leader and chief executive will proclaim to the heavens that the aim is to support business, encourage enterprise and promote inward investment. There are whole teams dedicated to these tasks.

The problem is that the council, in its decision-making, is thoughtless and inconsiderate of the challenges facing businesses and especially retail businesses:

Business owners have hit out at Bradford Council after being told to take down sandwich boards advertising their premises.

Shops and businesses in Belmont Avenue, Low Moor have until Thursday to remove the A-frame boards from a grassy area in Cleckheaton Road, which they say are needed to inform customers of their location.

OK, so we have a policy. One designed to make it safer for the visually and mobility impaired resident to get about the high street. And it is being applied to boards put up on a grassy verge by the roadside.  One can only assume a verge widely travelled over by the blind and wheelchair bound!

Hardly a day passes without some council official or other making a decision that has the consequence of making it harder for a business or businesses to trade. It might be some nonsense about recycling, or shutters or putting some stock on display outside, or handing out flyers – almost anything a business does might just be subject to the idiocy of some jobsworth.

But it’s not just the attitude of individual officers (although my favourite was the officer who tried to stop a major event involving over 400 market stalls from across Europe because it meant moving some bus stops for a few days), it is the policy environment.

This year – in the worst retail recession in living memory – Bradford Council plans to introduce parking charges on North Parade. Forget that a few more people will decide now to go to the retail park or elsewhere out of town, never mind that the decision might just tip another of those fragile independent traders into folding – we need the revenue so on goes the charge!

Yes Bradford Council is pro-business! It just doesn’t seem that way!


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