Urban Echo News 

Bradford 2016: Some Reflections and Hopes

by Naz Shah, Member of Parliament for Bradford West
by Naz Shah, Member of Parliament for Bradford West

2016 has been an interesting year on many fronts. Politically speaking, nationally and internationally the words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘interesting’ go hand in hand.

These include the Syrian refugee crisis, Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right including the brutal murder of my Labour sister Jo Cox. Closer to home has also been a mixed bag. Ups and downs, lows and highs.

We’ve found ourselves in the national spotlight for much to celebrate as well as issues which have been challenging and indeed sad at times.

Some of our achievements have included:

  • We were crowned Curry Capital for the 6th year running
  • North Parade making it to the top 5 ‘Great British High Street’s
  • The WOW festival launching in Bradford
  • Bradford Literature Festival has firmly established itself as an international festival and amongst the best if not the best for its diversity
  • Bradford Curry Festival also continues to go from strength to strength and make its mark across the globe
  • IMAX at the National Media Museum invested hugely into digitising the screen
  • Bradford City changed ownership with promise of more investment
  • Bradford Live and the old Odeon secured funding
  • City Park has become a central attraction

So we have much to celebrate as a young international City that we are.

We also have a great deal to look forward to.

A_sunny_day_in_Bradford_City_Park_with_City_Hall_(Taken_by_Flickr_user_8th_September_2012)One of the things I feel passionately about is that “Brand Bradford” is on track and indeed taking its place regionally, nationally as well as internationally.

There has been a notable shift in the external perceptions of our great City and our communities. I hear it both locally and in Westminster and it’s the kind of conversations and stories I welcome and want more of.

But these good things do not abdicate our responsibilities of continuing to respond to our challenges and have brave conversations, ensuring we build on this positive energy.

The case of Samia Shahid made international headlines and locally it shocked the community and continues to do so.

The Casey Review also mentioned “regressive practices” when it comes to women, in particular issues around patriarchy.

My concerns about the lack of recognition about poverty and integration being a “two way street” in the report are on public record. However, I am also very clear that I do recognise some of what Dame Casey referred to in relational to women’s roles.

bradford-festival-article-photo-1401447764And to this end, I feel we must go into 2017 with the recognition that we still have a way to travel when it comes to women’s engagement and empowerment. We have specific challenges and some of those are pertinent to particular communities and we must not and cannot shy away from these. If we are to create strong communities, the role of women has to be central to these efforts, only then can we own our responses as well as be part of the solutions.

Much of the headlines have also concerned young needles deaths on our roads as well as car jacking’s, but I’m pleased to say that with the support of our communities, increased awareness, and residents taking a stand, it makes the job of our police officers easier for which I thank you all.

So what does 2017 hold for Bradford? You, me, us, we…

We are Bradford, and we must to continue to build Brand Bradford by playing our part.

We are our future, whether that’s in our homes, our streets or our communities and we must believe in better because Bradford deserves Better!

We will miss a generation if we don’t grasp this next year with both hands and focus on our strengths as a Truly International City.

If there is one thing I ask it is this. How can you become part of Brand Bradford, a real “Bradvocate” and to all those who are doing some great work? Are you celebrating it enough?

So finally, my parting words at the end of what has been a better year than that before it, we need more “Bradvocates” both within and outside of our communities. Let’s do this together whilst thanking our public sector and emergency services who continue to provide a tremendous service against a backdrop of devastating budget cuts.

Here’s to a fabulous, healthy, happy and prosperous 2017 to all my fellow Bradfordians and Bradvocates.

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