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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Naz Shah says Bradford is ‘high priority’ for levelling up

Naz Shah has written to Michael Gove to make Bradford the "poster child" for levelling up.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah has urged the Government to reverse “decades of underinvestment” in Bradford, and make the city the poster child for “levelling up.”

A newly published report has named Bradford the best city for Government to invest in as part of its “levelling up” agenda.

Put together by zero-carbon housebuilder Etopia Homes, the study looked at the 34 largest towns and cities outside of London.

It looked at areas that would most benefit from investment, as well as measures including how much available brownfield land was available for development. Bradford was deemed the highest priority for levelling up, followed by Wolverhampton and Coventry.

The report comes as the Government is poised to launch its Levelling Up white paper, which will give more detail on what has been a fairly vague policy so far.

It says Bradford “has the strongest case for economic support as part of the levelling-up agenda, as well as significant capacity for new economic growth.”

Referring to the list, it adds: “These towns and cities all have huge potential to become self-sufficient centres of economic growth and by investing in low carbon, sustainable property development, we believe a bigger, better and more resilient economy can be delivered for these places themselves and for Britain as a whole.”

The report comes shortly after the Government announced that it would be scrapping the Northern Powerhouse Rail line, and a proposed stop in Bradford.

It was estimated a Bradford stop could attract around £30 billion investment in Bradford, and lead to the development of a “Southern Gateway” around the proposed station – which would be built on the current St James’ Market site.

Rcent years have seen the city overlooked for a number of big investments in favour of its neighbours, such as Channel 4’s relocation to Leeds and the announcement that the British Library would be opening a new site, also in Leeds.

Following the levelling up report, Bradford West MP Naz Shah has written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for levelling up, urging him to prioritise Bradford in any levelling up investment.

Her letter to Mr Gove said: “With the plethora of research clearly pointing to Bradford as the highest priority for levelling up, it would be a travesty for the Government to ignore it, especially after reneging on multiple promises to level up Bradford with Northern Powerhouse Rail, which has stifled £30 billion of potential investment in the city.

“The Government promised £640b on capital investment in this Parliament. Bradford not only deserves a portion of this investment, but this investment could be a catalyst for Bradford to move on with a clear break from its legacy issues, transforming it into a regional economic power.

“The Government’s levelling up mantra will fail if Government decides to leave Bradford out of these plans.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “This index makes it clear – if Levelling Up is to mean anything, it must include the Bradford district.

“We have the plans, we have the people and we have the sites, including more than 180 hectares of brownfield land and an opportunity in the southern gateway area of the city centre, to unlock a regeneration area three times larger than Canary Wharf and help grow our economy by almost £30bn over a decade.

“We’re ready to level up. The big question is, are Government ready to invest to make it a reality?”

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