Saturday, June 24, 2017
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ONE OF A KIND: SAIF-AL-MALUK

The Saif ul Maluk Festival held in St. George’s Hall Bradford City by PM Promoters Ltd was a one of a kind event – an insight into the world of sufi poetry and thought as evoked by ‘Arif-e’Kharri’ Mian Muhammad Bakhsh. Audiences were enlightened with the religious and literary perspectives of one of the most renowned work of sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, entitled ‘Saif al Maluk – Journey of Love’

Religious scholar, Mufti Ansarul Qadri shed light on the significance of the work in strengthening beliefs, morals and ethics of life as a whole whilst academics Sohail Warraich, Dr Sughra Sadaf, Sohail Ahmed Azizi, Dr Jawed Akram and Dr Manzoor Ejaz spoke on the beauty of the prose, its construct and the impact it has forged on the lives of the ordinary who seek solace and comfort in the recital of the melodic and powerful verses which create an everlasting impression. One of the other highlights of the show was the recital of verses by 17 year old Eesaa Khan of Laisterdyke Business College who earned the runner-up place in a recital competition conducted by the Future House section of the Education Department of the Bradford Council. First place winner Ismaeel Khan of age 12 years from Kings Academy was given the opportunity to perform along with prominent singer Hans Raj Hans in the final session.

The Saif al Maluk Festival concluded with renowned performing artists from India and Pakistan such as Hans Raj Hans, Rafaqat Ali Khan and Sanam Marvi paying tribute to the great poet by reciting some selected verses of his prized work to the melodious tune of the traditional percussion instrument of the subcontinent the ‘dhol’, ‘tabla’ and the flute. The event was very well received by all those in attendance, thoroughly relishing in the epic conclusion.

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BRADFORD BACK IN THE DRIVING SEATBRADFORD – BACK IN THE DRIVING SEAT

Recently Bradford has experienced a ‘sea of change’ in terms of political engagement.

Whilst the highly anticipated ‘Bradford Spring’ spectacularly failed in materialising, the bulbs weren’t even sown let alone watered to grow, nevertheless, the ‘Pied Piper’ approach did have a silver lining. The spotlight fell on Bradford and this time it wasn’t just from the outside and or negative.

More recently, largely thanks to social media, the atrocities in Gaza played out on the screens of our phones. Graphic and unbearable images of massacred babies, children & families, the innocents, the ‘Collateral Damage’ of one countries mission to pursue its own agenda at the expense of another people caused the world to awake from its slumber, Bradford was no exception.

People came together who wouldn’t normally work together. On the whole there was a cross party consensus that it was a humanitarian crisis precipitated by a failure to resolve a political impasse, beyond any political, religious or any other affiliations. The people of Bradford and the city played its part leading the way through social media. The flag raising and Bradford Boycott along with other initiatives proved highly successful.

George Galloway’s comments and the Israeli ambassador’s visit to the city further highlighted the issue of accountability and this time The Council of Mosques also found themselves being scrutinised on many different levels and found depressingly wanting.

More closer to home our national ranking in the primary school tables dropped from being in the bottom 10% to a new low of 5%, and if that wasn’t enough, along came ‘Trojan Horse’.

Only days into this month we had further peaceful demonstrations outside Carlton Bolling College in light of a mentor’s suspension.

All of the above against a backdrop of national austerity and national elections less than 9 months away. Bradfordian’s have to take stock.

Through this heightened engagement, Bradfordian’s, are no longer bystanders of what’s panning out. Bradfordian’s are now bringing together voices and asking for leadership. Bradford does not need any ‘Messiah’, an international game player who offers very little to the people of this city, who shouts from open top buses surrounded by a fan fare of ‘celebre’. Neither does Bradford need to be told what it needs any more by the entrenched patriarchal and gatekeeping systems, particularly within its Asian communities and or political systems that need reform to address concerns raised by the ‘Bradford Earth Quake’ Report.

Despite the gloomy picture painted by the critics of this City I feel, Bradford and its people have learnt its lessons and have demonstrated maturity not only through the Westfield occupation, but through the responses to various demonstration’s by the far right in our city.

Bradford has grown up. Being an ever optimist, I refuse to accept that only bad comes from bad, even from bad lessons can be learnt. It’s not the content of the story, it is how the story is told and subsequently understood.

Bradford is ready for a Yorkshire inspired transformative change.

As a city we are ready to take to the stage, that’s the story I’m telling, which one are you going to tell?

GALLOWAY: “I’M READY FOR BRADFORD WEST”

Like him or loathe him, George Galloway has an inimitable persona that makes him stand apart from his political adversaries. Known as a maverick throughout his robust political career, Galloway is mulling over his decision to contest for the Bradford West parliamentary elections to be held next year. Will he be standing again? And has the birth of his new born child mellowed down the polemic politician?

As we meet at MyLahore in Bradford for a late lunch, Galloway is seated alongside his wife Gayatri, who dotingly nestles their new born child. We talk a little about Bradford and the positive work taking place within the city and then go back to Galloway’s early days where he ruminates on his journey of humble beginnings growing up in a working-class Dundee household to sensationally becoming Member of Parliament for Bradford West in 2012.

Early days

“I was born in Dundee, in Scotland. We had a very happy and stable family and my mother and father never spent a single day apart from their marriage until my father’s death. They brought me up with strong values and beliefs – religious beliefs and political beliefs,” he tells me whilst fondly reminiscing his childhood. He continues, “My father never drank alcohol and he brought all of us up to hate alcohol. That was quite an unusual thing in Scotland – Scottish, Irish – normally quite a hard drinking culture. My father was all his life a Labour activist and an official of the Engineering Union (AEU) and my mother was a school cleaner”.

These strong values and beliefs, embedded by his parents at a very early age, gave Galloway the tools to aspire and ultimately enter politics. At the age of 23, he became the Labour organiser in Aberdeen and in 1987, Galloway was elected the MP for Glasgow Hillhead. It was a Labour Party gain from the Social Democratic Party defeating Roy Jenkins with a majority of 3,251. At the age of 32 he moved to London and continued with his political beliefs and became a leading figure within the Labour party.

Tony Blair

Never shy of expressing his true feelings, Galloway became increasingly critical of the governments backing of the war in Iraq and in 2001 he became the Vice-President of the Stop the War Coalition. Actively involved, he often delivered speeches from StWC platforms at anti-war demonstrations. From this position, Galloway made many aggressive and controversial statements in opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“Mr Blair took a decision that this term was not big enough for both of us and decided that I was to be expelled. Mr Benn [the great Labour figure], Mr Foot [the former Labour leader] and Tony Woodley [the leader of Britain’s biggest union] were my main character witnesses and urged the party not to make this decision. But the tribunal had already made their decision and when the final verdict was delivered, my 36 years of Labour party membership were bought to an abrupt end.”

After being expelled by the Labour Party, Galloway would not be deterred from continuing with his criticism of the Blair government’s foreign policies and immediately formed the Respect Party. In 2005 he won the newly formed party their first parliamentary seat in Bethnal Green and Bow.

“Mr Blair took a decision that this term was not big enough for both of us”

Bradford West

After the unexpected demise of sitting Labour MP Marsha Singh in 2012, Galloway set his sights on Bradford. Asked as to why he chose Bradford, he replied, “There were quite a few factors. I was no longer in parliament at the time and I felt that Bradford offered an obvious and visible, pre-existing basis of support. There was also a rejection of the Labour candidate who was regarded by most voters as unsuitable. An earlier example of that was that he refused to appear at any Hustings. Therefore, people concluded that if he was not capable of turning up and arguing with Galloway, what kind of MP would he be?”

“The Labour candidate who was regarded by most voters as unsuitable”

The 2012 election campaign offered an unusual ambience in the city as Galloway was seen by many as an outsider trying to gate crash the party. As the campaign gathered momentum and the elections quickly approaching, all candidates were asked to appear on the Sunday Politics Show.

“The Labour candidate made a fatal decision to appear on the BBC roundtable discussion one week before polling day. I said on television that he has just committed political suicide and I knew on that day that I would win. So, a rejection of the Labour candidate and my role in the war and Palestine as well as we a being a real Labour figure, all contributed to me winning the election.”

Controversial

Since being elected as Bradford West MP, Galloway continues to be a provocative figure. Whether tweeting on Twitter or posting on Facebook, the Bradford MP has a hard-core following as well as those who oppose him accusing him of being a divisive figure. His recent remarks about Bradford should become an “an Israel free zone” further added fuel to the fire.

He states, “I stand by my comment but it was misrepresented. First of all there are a very small number of Israeli’s who oppose the crimes that Israel commits and they would be received in Bradford as heroes. But those who support the crimes that Israel commit would not be welcome. It’s not a question of banning them. Nobody can ban anybody and I never used the word ‘ban’. We as human beings have a right to welcome or not welcome someone’s company and we wanted to send a message that Israel’s crimes were so grave that we wanted to boycott them. I never ever mentioned the word ‘Jews’. We have nothing against Jews and many of them are on our side. Not all Jews support Israel and we have nothing against them. I only regret how, just like in many cases previously, my statement has been misrepresented.”

2015

What everyone wants to know is whether Galloway will be standing again next year to contest his seat in Bradford West. Have the two bustling years in Bradford taken their toll on the seasoned politician? He ardently states, “The things that motivate me, never go away. As long as God gives me breath, I will continue doing what I am doing. Bradford is at the bottom of most of the leagues we want to be at the top of and at the top of the leagues we want to be at the bottom of. There is still a lot of work to be done, hence, it is my intention to stand in Bradford one more time. The people of Bradford can make up their minds whether they want to give me a full term or not.”

Whatever happens in May 2015, George Galloway is staying in Bradford for the time being and whoever he goes up against next year, it will be one eagerly anticipated contest.

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Bradford team launch new newspaper to help promote positivity and integration within the West Yorkshire region.

West Yorkshire’s latest newspaper has arrived and firmly landed on the streets of the region. The brainchild of the former director of the Bite the Mango International film festival, Irfan Ajeeb, Urban Echo will aim to engage with the residents of the region and cater for everyone regardless of faith, race or status.

Urban Echo editor, Irfan, states “As someone who is born and raised in Bradford, I feel there is a need to have a paper that would entice the urban masses regardless of their skin colour, religious beliefs or financial status. I refer to Urban Echo as a reviews-paper rather than a newspaper. We will focus on analysis and features and act as a dais for the people of the district to tell their untold stories.”

To get in touch with Urban Echo, please contact the team on info@urban-echo.co.uk or visit the website at www.urban-echo.co.uk.

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Streets littered with rubbish are angering residents who claim the council are biased as to where they clean and how often they clean.

Residents in Bradford are calling for the council to step up their game regarding the amount of litter on their streets. Neighbourhoods in Heaton, Great Horton, Undercliffe and Girlington are voicing their concerns at the lack of council activity sweeping up their streets. One resident in Girlington said that it has almost been “three months” since they witnessed a road sweeper in his street and that he himself physically brushed part of the street to keep the litter away.

Mrs Tahir of Howarth Road, Heaton states, “We have lived here for four years and over the last two years the litter in our area is getting worse. It attracts stray cats, birds and rats and at night you can hear them going through the rubbish. I do not know how often the council are supposed arrange for cleaners in our area.”

The council states, “Research carried out by Keep Britain Tidy reveals a quarter of Britain’s streets are strewn with cast off food cartons, drink cans, and pizza boxes. If there is a litter problem related to particular kinds of commercial premises, such as takeaway restaurants, cinemas, sports centres, service stations and others, then the Council has powers to make Street Litter Control Notices requiring businesses to take responsibility for the waste created from their premises.”

Apart from streets full of litter, it does not help when certain car drivers throw litter from their windows. Eating food by individuals in a car parked on the road or street and disposing of the wrappers through the window is often witnessed by residents with anger and disgust. Mr Smith of Undercliffe tells us, “Young lads always park in my street in the evening as it is a quiet cul-de-sac. I can hear them talking loudly and once they have finished eating, they just simply throw all the rubbish out of their car and drive off.” With anger etched on his face, Mr Smith continues, “Once I approached them and told them not to throw the rubbish outside my house and they simply abused me and drove off.”

There are many cases similar to that of Mr Smith and the council are aware of the growing problem. According to the Bradford council website, “Littering from vehicles is a major problem. Keep Britain Tidy research has shown that 23% of people are likely to litter from their car. Smoking related litter is now the UK’s biggest litter problem, with cigarette litter reported to be on 78% of our streets.”

Fly tipping is also a growing problem in Bradford as we all too very often see the old sofas and mattresses dumped in alley ways and barren roads. Though the council are trying to deter offenders with a hefty fine of up to £50,000 and one year imprisonment, it seems offenders are unperturbed by the outcome of their selfish actions if caught.

Bradford council states, “If someone fly tips on private land, it is then down to the landlord to arrange for the clearance of the illegally dumped waste.”

For certain residents who live in the inner city areas, they claim that the council pick and choose where they clean and how often they clean. One resident from Manningham who did not want to be named claims, “If you go to the affluent areas there seems to be no rubbish but when you drive around the Asian areas here in Mannigham, Lidget Green or Toller Lane, you never see any road sweepers or any council workers. It’s as though they don’t care about the Asian areas and want us to clean up our own mess.”

If you have a problem of littering on your street or witness anyone fly tipping you can report it to the Bradford council by calling them on 01274 431000.

***URBAN ECHO EXCLUSIVE***

On August 31, 2012, Bradford businessman Omar Khan proudly walked on to the Odsal stadium pitch alongside friend and seasoned politician Gerry Sutcliffe to the rapture of the partisan crowd who were relieved at the fact that their beloved Bradford Bulls had been saved from potential obscurity. Two years later, what started as a fairy tale romance has ended in a rancorous battle between the Bull’s former owner and the new owners.

Urban Echo has been contacted by Ryan Whitcut, the former general manager of the Bradford Bulls during Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe’s reign at the club. He spoke exclusively to Urban Echo of his version of events and his reasons as to why he thinks the breakdown in trust and continuing suspicions contributed to the end of what could have been a golden era for the Bradford Bulls.

A statement by Ryan Whitcut, former general manager, Bradford Bulls:

When I agreed to purchase the club along with MarkMoore in September last year it was to continue along with the good work that had already been done. It was clear to everyone involved that there was a deficit in 2014 of £500k and that this figure would need to be found, it was never the case that cost cutting would be the way forward.

I had attracted a large investment which was coming from a development company known for its development of sports stadiums and complexes, they were to take a share of the club as well as develop the stadium and adjoining land at Odsal. The initial input into the rugby club was £1m for 2014. I had also attracted a number of smaller investors into the club to help with its running. These people were given sight of the full accounting position and shortfalls known to the club. When it was clear we were not going to be able to pay Omar the agreed amount on the date agreed I approached him and got an extension, I had agreed that we would pay the costs he incurred during that time. My fellow directors at the time thought they could legally and I guess morally just not pay what was contractually owed. I would like to point out that I am being pursued for over £150k still.

When I left the club in November last year, there was no debt to HMRC and the Purchase Ledger was running at about £300k. The threat of a winding up petition by HMRC was down to those in charge after I left.

Numerous meetings were had with the RFL and again at no point were cost cutting measures spoken or even thought about. We all wanted the Bulls to be successful and cutting costs would jeopardise the chances of a play-off position. After a meeting at the RFL at which I was not present I was informed by Mark Moore that Blake Solly had said that they didn’t have to pay Omar Khan and he also said that I had failed a fit and proper person test and should leave the club immediately as per the RFL. This came to me as a bit of a shock as I had been running the club and been an “influential person” within the club for the previous 12 Months. I haven’t to date received any correspondence from the RFL to that effect. The board then approached the developer directly, who after seeing the way business was being conducted decided to walk away.

A number of blatant lies were told by the trio as well as Robbie and John Bateman. At all

times everyone was kept informed. John phoned me and said, “I want to leave the Bulls”.

The meeting was set up with Ian Lennigan and Andrew Calvert was going to come along.

He called me that morning and said he couldn’t make it due another commitment. Before

any offer was accepted, all four of them agreed to the sale price. Amazingly, at the fans

forum, they then say that they knew nothing about it.

Other stories relating to hidden costs which they knew nothing about again are stories, all

of them had full access to all documents and accounting systems in place. The pre pack

administration was to get rid of Omar’s debt without paying him a penny and not for any

other reason. The parties behind this were Ralph Rimmer, Blake Solly, Mark Moore,

Andrew Calvert, Ian Watt. The administration was put together with the RFL’s full backing

and knowledge since December 2013. This has left the club in limbo once again.

From the moment I was asked to leave the club I have refrained from making any comment, publicly or privately, after seeing the absolute debacle of yesterday I felt the need to set the record straight.

When the Club was placed into administration again the year the RFL had no other option but to deduct points and I fully agree with this, however why this time was there no mention of having Central distribution monies taken away? Why is this different to last time when the Hood regime entered into administration?

I believe this has to do with the purchaser. Omar and his team were never wanted in the Rugby League circle and the implementation of in essence a £1.25m fine, the 1st of its kind within rugby of both codes and football. This never gave the bulls a chance of staying within losses that were manageable.

It’s clear that the Rugby Football League didn’t want Omar’s ‘sort’ or the investment I had attracted in the game. They should have shown more guts at the time and said NO. Instead there was a lack of cooperation, extreme penalties, a general lack of support and an intention to prevent payment to Omar Khan which ended a bright future for the Bulls.

I heard that the administrator David Wilson spoke out loud at the creditors meeting and stated that he had tried to contact me on numerous occasion about the alleged financial irregularities. This never happened. I have since sent numerous emails to Mr Wilson requesting the correspondence sent whilst he was allegedly trying to get in touch, again to this date I have received nothing.

The Bulls was a major part of my life and I wish them every success in the future. If the performance against Warrington was anything to go by, they will be fine.

Gerry SutcliffeOver the past few weeks I have been sad and disappointed to read the numerous articles in the local press and unnamed commentary from individuals attacking Omar Khan in relation to OK Bradford Bulls.

At the time I was asked to be involved, the only motivation of us all was to save the club and to try to take it forward in difficult circumstances. The club was within half an hour of liquidation when Omar invested large amounts of his own money to secure it and save its super league status.

When he asked me and other board members to step down in September as he was selling the club to others due to illness, there were no outstanding issues as far as I was concerned.

It appears that the debt entered into by the new directors as result of a loan to the club by Marc GreenGerry Sutcliffe 2resulted in Mr Green putting the club into administration. He subsequently bought the club from administration, beating rival bidders.

Omar Khan has challenged that administration process legally and from his own pocket paid for the legal challenge in an attempt to make transparent the whole process.

In relation to the loan from Bradford Council to the rugby club, this was a commercial loan agreed within the appropriate council procedures.

As far as I am aware, Omar is repaying the loan as the guarantor. His character and integrity is being unfairly maligned for political gain.

Gerry Sutcliffe, MP

LATEST – The National Media Museum secures £1 million hand-out from Bradford council to secure its future for the next three years. The Science Museum group have also matched the offer by contributing a further £1million. A spokesman for the Government’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport said earlier: “Today’s announcement is great news for the National Media Museum and a fantastic example of the types of commercial and local partnerships that can help all museums continue to thrive.”

For the last decade, the National Media Museum has witnessed a steady decline in visitor numbers and this latest news will inject renewed passion and optimism for staff and the Science Museum Group hierarchy.

With the Westfield project well underway as well as the potential development of the old Odeon building looking more and more realistic, Bradford, it seems, could well be bouncing back.

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DO WE TALK ENOUGH? 

Well I have been given a column to write… so now what do I write about?

“The world is your oyster!” many have said to me, but I wonder just how much truth is in this statement. As a teenager, you often become subject to people as most times your parents thinking you are irresponsible despite them pushing you to become more independent. However this becomes an almost impossible task when you’re not allowed to do anything! I think the turning point in my life to becoming an ‘adult’ was making my first doctor’s appointment. Sad but true!

I just remember my mum saying “I’m not your personal secretary!” and then handing me the phone. I could feel the tension rise as I am waiting for someone to pick the phone on the other end and then I had the daunting task of actually talking to someone on the phone.

That was three years ago and now I feel much more at ease of speaking to anyone on the phone, depending on the individual of course.

I guess I should be thankful for the moment when my mum told me to book my own appointment. It was a phrase I never thought I would say, but in hindsight it is true. I have friends now who find making an important phone call an incredibly nerve-wracking task. “What do I say? I don’t know what to say!” are one of the few things they always ask me.

Some of you may think this is bizarre but talking over the phone is becoming a bigger problem than it seems. The world is becoming mute. Nowadays talking on the phone has lost its appeal whereas texting has proven more popular than ever before.

Why? TECHNOLOGY. Following a 2012 Ofcom report into the growing trend of texting, Ofcom’s director of research James Thickett commented that the popularity of smartphones has increased due to them offering “newer forms of communications which don’t require us to talk to each other”. Next time you sit in a room and spend time with your family or friends just think about how much time you actually spend talking to one another with eye to eye interaction. Compare it to how much you spend time on your phone either texting or interacting with friends and family via Twitter and Facebook. We are ALL guilty of it. I for one am definitely a culprit.

So how do we overcome this problem before we turn into a world that just doesn’t speak anymore? First put down your phones and talk to people in the same room as you, then maybe making an important phone call won’t seem like such a daunting task.

And as for the world being my oyster, I will have to get back to you on that.

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