Civic Society claims councillors blanked blueprint for regeneration of city

Read it on the Telegraph & Argus

By Jim Greenhalf

The chairman of Bradford Civic Society, Anthony Mann, has accused local politicians and regeneration officials of deliberately ignoring an alternative regeneration manifesto.

In July more than 140 of them were sent copies of the charity's booklet Common Sense Regeneration.

It contained 14 points, including relocating the Park in the Heart to the vacant Westfield site, converting the Odeon into a concert hall and conference centre and looking at the possibility of a cross-city rail link.

Mr Mann said he had received acknowledgements only from Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies, Shipley Green Party Councillor Hawarun Hussain, another councillor who wanted to remain anonymous and one other councillor who asked to be removed from the Society's mailing list.

He said: "It's complete and utter ignorance not to respond to someone who sends you a local piece of information. It's as if this has been discussed at a higher level and decided that if they just ignore it we will go away. But I am not going to go away.

"Seven years of regeneration with £60m to £70m spent and there is nothing in sight. The plans are all wrong, for a different time. In contrast the public response to us, and letters in the Telegraph & Argus, has been good. Since 2006 the membership of the Civic Society has gone up from 40 or 50 to about 150."

When the booklet was published Bradford's regeneration chief Coun-cillor Adrian Naylor responded to the alternative regeneration proposals. He told the T&A at the time: "I am glad there are people out there other than myself who are passionate about Bradford."

In response to Mr Mann's claim of being officially blanked, Coun Naylor added: "As far as I am aware the booklet was sent out with a generic 'dear councillor' letter. I don't think it invited anyone to respond in that way. I sat down and read it cover to cover, and I know other people in regeneration did as well. This is something I want to engage with. I shall certainly make sure that Anthony Mann is invited to the next stakeholder economic conference in October at the university.

"I want more people to get involved with the idea of regenerating Bradford. The more the better."

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said: "I got a booklet through the post but it didn't invite a response. If this was a lobby it wasn't successful."

Labour leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said: "If he had written in any sense that he wanted to speak to us I would have written back. It's an interesting booklet. I would be happy to discuss its contents with him."