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Bradford

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Bradford – The Lord Mayor of Bradford is leading a ceremony of commemoration in the city’s Centenary Square on May 8 to mark Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Friday 8 May 2015 is the anniversary of VE Day, marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Cllr Mike Gibbons will lead the ceremony at 3pm. He will be supported by his Chaplain Canon Philip Gray and Canon Sam Chorley the Chaplain to the Royal British Legion (Bradford Branch).

Cllr Gibbons
Cllr Gibbons

The timing of the ceremony will coincide with a service of remembrance at The Cenotaph in London and a national two minute silence at 3pm, marking the moment Winston Churchill broadcast his historic speech formally announcing the end of the war. The celebrations will be echoed by other events across the country.

In the evening the Lord Mayor will light a beacon at the Cenotaph to celebrate the light emerging from the darkness of war. This beacon will form a chain of over 100 beacons being lit at 9.30pm, across the United Kingdom, Channel Isles and the Isle of Man.

The City Hall clock tower will also be illuminated to reflect the buildings that were lit up in celebration on VE Day in 1945.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Mike Gibbons, said: “It is important that we don’t let this day pass without remembering the events of 70 years ago, when peace broke out bringing to an end nearly six years of war across Europe. I would like to encourage people to come and take part in the two minutes silence or the beacon lighting in the evening.”

The bells of Bradford Cathedral will ring at 11am on Saturday the 9 May 2015 along with other cathedrals across the country.

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Bradford – Police investigating a robbery in a Bradford park have released an e-fit image of a man they would like to speak to.  

hortonpkrobberefitThe incident occurred in Horton Park at about 11am on Tuesday, 24 February, when a 39-year-old woman was pushed to the ground.

The victim had what was believed to be alcohol poured over her head, before the suspect snatched her phone and ran off.

She later discovered a quantity of cash had been taken.

The suspect was believed to be about 5ft 7ins tall and of skinny build.

He was wearing a hooded black jacket with a motif on the left breast and dark blue tracksuit bottoms.

Anyone who recognises this man from the above description or who has information which may assist the investigation is asked to contact Bradford District CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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Being a British Pakistani woman in Bradford is hard. Negotiating gender, ethnicity, culture and nationality is not an easy task. Especially if you don’t fit into a nice, neat box. Society doesn’t seem to know what to do with an independent-minded Asian woman who points out injustice and gives it a name.

by Saima Mir
by Saima Mir

Over the last few weeks Naz Shah, the Bradford West Labour candidate has been subjected to all kinds of abuse. Coming from a difficult childhood, Naz refuses to know her place let alone be put in it. And that along with resilience is what makes her inspirational. Speaking with her I get the overriding sense that she bases her decisions on what is good and honest and decent, even if that means difficult times lie ahead for her.

I know the path that lies ahead, I am familiar with the landscape of Bradford. I grew up here and my first news job was at the Telegraph & Argus. It was a paper that my grandfather used to teach me to read, a paper I loved. I wanted to make a difference to my city and for my people. Surprisingly, for a city with such a large Pakistani population, when I started, I was the only non-white reporter in the newsroom. In my job interview the editor asked me if I thought an Asian by-line would encourage more Asian readers. At the time I didn’t have an answer. If he asked me today, I would say yes. But it’s not just the name under the story that is needed, it is a deep understanding of the issues faced by these communities every day.

I joined the regional arm of the BBC a few years later and found myself in exactly the same position. This was shortly after the London tube bombings and there was little trust for the BBC brand amongst the Muslim community. It was not easy to work in a place where it was assumed I was there only for the colour of my skin. Working in places where you are different means treading a path where one does not exist, that means dealing with thorny issues and moving great boulders. It’s hard work. Expectations are high, and no one understands the journey you’ve made to get there. And getting there is harder than it is for our white counterparts. Apart from obvious issues of discrimination, being a British Pakistani woman on television makes you a target, and this has an effect on you and your family.

I remember being told by someone I barely knew that she’d seen me early one morning on Frizinghall Road. She leaned over and whispered “It’s none of my business what you’re doing getting in a taxi at 5am.” I was stunned. It hadn’t occurred to her that I lived on Frizinghall Road and that I was on my way to work an early shift in Leeds. BBC employees working those hours were entitled to a taxi. In her mind I was somewhere I shouldn’t be and doing something I shouldn’t be doing. It is against the backdrop of such gossip that Bradford’s British Asian women set out to work.

And it is this kind of world that is trying to hold back women like Naz Shah. The Urban Echo’s article about her received 60,000 hits. Evidence that there is a huge interest in stories from Bradford and the Asian community. Evidence that this community and the city’s media should be investing in us. We are important and the world wants to hear our stories.

We need more diversity in politics, in media, in business. Bradford women are amongst the most entrepreneurial and resilient in the country. But we come from a city that holds us back. Both white and Asian communities are disinterested in our truths, choosing instead to replace them with one of their own. We are either saints or sinners, a nun or a whore. There is no in between. Surely, it is time we challenged this? Surely, it is time for change?

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Bradford – Hope Not Hate (HnH), the trade union backed campaign group that often gets facts wrong, have announced that they will again be targeting UKIP in Bradford in forthcoming general and local elections on 7th May.

As a ‘registered non-party campaigner’ HnH are entitled to print and distribute their literature but should ensure they contain facts and not attempt to mislead the public.

However UKIP is concerned that Labour councillors, candidates and their associates, being the main distributors and organisers of HnH leaflets in Bradford are using this trade union backed money to effectively bypass legally enforced spending limits and allowing them to outspend other political campaigns.

Jason Smith, UKIP
Jason Smith, UKIP

At last year’s elections in some areas the Labour candidate teams worked in tandem to deliver Labour and HnH leaflets.  In 2014 UKIP Bradford uncovered a plot where Labour councillors were working alongside the left wing campaign group (see 3) these included Labour Deputy Leader Imran Hussain, Cllrs Sinead Engel and Cllr Richard Dunbar amongst others.

UKIP candidate for Bradford South Jason Smith says: “People want fair elections, they want to know that what is being sent to them is legitimate and fair, and we cannot have a situation where one party’s candidates can effectively ignore the legal spending limits by dressing up one of their leaflets as being in some way independent of them.

We will be writing to the Returning Officer, West Yorkshire Police Economic Crime Unit (who investigate electoral offences), and to the Electoral Commission to alert them of our concerns of disguised spending in Bradford.”

UKIP candidate for Bradford East Owais Rajput says: “I ask all people of Bradford to question the outlandish claims of Hope Not Hate, UKIP denounces racism and we denounce Hope Not Hate language of hatred.  UKIP is colour blind and is more ethnically diverse than Labour.”

Millions of hearts around the world have been broken as it is reported that Bradford’s very own Zayn Malik has left One Direction.

The 22-year-old rose to fame when he appeared on the X-Factor forming a band with Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Liam Pane finishing in third place.

The band confirmed his departure in an official statement:

“After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One
Direction. Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year”

One Direction
One Direction

Zayn made his feeling clear and apologised to the dedicated fans saying: “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologise to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”

Zayn has full support of his fellow band mates as they are sad to see him go but the fully  “respect” his decision send him “all our love for the future” They will continue to be best friends.

Simon Cowell has also had his input and said that he would like to thank the Bradford born singer for everything he has done for One Direction and he is “immensely proud of him.”

Further reports say that fame became too much for Malik as he returned to the UK after quitting the world tour due to allegations of cheating after photos emerged of him with another woman. Zayn was signed off with stress.

Louis, Harry, Niall and Liam will stay as ‘One Direction’ and stick together as a four piece. They are due to release their fifth album later this year

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Bradford – Nearly 50 buildings in Bradford have benefited from free wi-fi in Bradford.
Libraries, visitor information centres, community halls, museums and children’s homes are all seeing wi-fi installed thanks to the SuperConnected Cities programme. As part of the SuperConnected Cities programme, Bradford Council has received Government funding to invest in broadband and wireless capabilities in key areas.
The Government scheme is to enable easy and fast online access to residents, visitors and businesses, and to advance connectivity and broadband access across the UK’s major cities. Bradford and Leeds have led the way in connectivity which meets the growing use of smartphones and tablets.
2000px-Wi-Fi_Logo.svgTwenty three of Bradford’s libraries, including Local Studies  which operates from the former Central Library, now benefit from free-wi-fi.
Most library users prefer to access learning resources and other services online and to enable this, Bradford Council has increased the availability of PCs as well as installing the free wi-fi.
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Employment, Skills and Culture, said: “It has proved a major bonus for our library customers, and is particularly useful for students who work in partnership with tutors.
“Many customers also use their own devices since the wi-fi has been installed, which frees up the Council provided PCs for those who don’t have such ready access to the internet. It creates a more modern library environment and is what people expect these days.”
Users of the King’s Hall and Winter Garden complex in Ilkley will also be delighted that they can now access free wi-fi in the venues, including the box office area.
Other community halls with free wi-fi include Silsden Town Hall, the Denholme Mechanics Institute, Ian Clough Hall in Baildon, and Kirklands Community Centre in Menston.
Bradford-city-centre-431x300Tourists and visitors can now access wi-fi on their mobiles and tablets in the Visitor Information Centres in Bradford, Ilkley and Saltaire to help them plan their visits to the district.
Bradford Council has a new responsive website, www.visitbradford.com,  which adapts the layout to ensure people have the best experience regardless of whether they are using desktop monitors, laptops, or tablets.
There is also a mobile website for use on mobile phones which provides information in a similar style to an app. Usage of this site has grown rapidly since it was launched last June.
Free wi-fi is also enhancing the experience of visitors to Bradford’s museums such as Bradford Industrial Museum, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bolling Hall Museum and Library and Cliffe Castle Museum, and they can share their views and pictures via social media.
Broadband Delivery UK funding has meant free wi-fi has now been extended to most of City Hall including the new Registrar waiting room and the bridal waiting rooms.
Bradford Council Leader, Coun David Green, said: “The installation of free wi-fi in our public buildings has progressed well and is an important part of being a digitally smart city.
“With Leeds we are leading the way on digital technology which in turn attracts investors and visitors, boosts the local economy and creates more jobs.”

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Bradford – The recovery has not reached Bradford West.

“Recovery, what recovery?” that was the reaction of Bradford West MP George Galloway when the February unemployment figures were published today.

George Galloway
George Galloway

He continued: “The unemployment rate is a staggering 8%, almost double the national average, the sixth highest in the United Kingdom and last month it even went up. Thirty-four people have now left the register since then, but that doesn’t mean they are in jobs, because we know that hundreds of thousands are being removed from benefits under this ConDem government. And still the panjandrums in City Hall keep their silence about the desperate state of affairs and keep the vaults closed on the tens of millions they hold in reserves.”

He added: “We keep hearing that the economic recovery is better in Britain than in any other European economy. Well it may be in London and the Home Counties but it certainly isn’t here. So in terms of recovery we’re closer to Paris and Rome than our own capital.”

Galloway also pointed out that if the Conservatives win the election their plans will take public spending back to 1930s levels. “We’re already seeing food banks proliferating, can you imagine what the country will be like by 2020 if these barbarians are returned? We need investment in jobs and infrastructure. One Westfield is by no means enough. But it won’t come under the Tories or this miserable local Labour administration.”

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Bradford – Bradford MP, David Ward has today signed up to Cifas’ Fraud Manifesto, asking for the next government to act on three simple measures which will help cut fraud in Bradford, helping to reduce the cost of car insurance premiums.

Commenting David Ward said:

“This is an important campaign and I am glad to support it. Fraud affects everyone in Bradford in some way – either as direct victims, or through higher premiums whether that’s car insurance or things like house insurance. Last year alone there were 19,751 cases of fraud in Yorkshire and the Humber costing over £68m, according to Cifas’ own figures.

“My reports into the high cost of car insurance in Bradford show that the high fraud figures pushes up the cost of premiums for everyone. All too often, fraud is considered to be a hidden victimless crime, but this is simply not the case. When your bank or insurer absorbs the cost of fraud it leads to higher fees or premiums for everyone.

David Ward MP
David Ward MP

“To tackle fraud, we first need to understand its scale. That’s why I’m calling for the independent Annual Fraud Indicator to be re-established, which will make the scale of the threat clear.

“Second, we need to change the behaviour of people and businesses and ensure that they are savvier to frauds and fraudsters across the board in order to better help themselves. That’s why I’m backing the call for a cross-sector awareness campaign to help people at all stages of their lives to stay safe and make them aware that everyone becomes a victim of fraud.

“Finally, I want to see the punishment fit the crime. I am calling on the Government to review the sentencing guidelines for fraud to ensure that fraudsters are punished appropriately for their crimes. If a fraudster swindles a grandmother out of her pension, I want to see a punishment that reflects the very real trauma and heartache that devious act would cause.

“I am very happy to support this campaign and help cut the cost of fraud to the UK.”

The Cabinet Office estimates that the cost of fraud to the public sector is between £31billion and £56billion every year. The true cost to charities and the private sector is unknown.

Cifas’ Fraud Manifesto has three clear asks of the government:

  • That a national measure of fraud loss is created. Government needs to work with industry, charities and other interested parties to understand the scale of the loss. Until it is understood, we will not be able to tackle it.
  • For a government to lead on a co-ordinated education and awareness campaign on fraud, resourced jointly by Government and industry. People of all ages need to be savvier to frauds and fraudsters across the board in order to better help themselves.
  • A comprehensive review of the sentencing guidelines for fraud. The public must have faith that when crimes are prosecuted, fraudsters are punished appropriately. And criminals need to know that whether they defraud a multi-national company of millions, or swindle a widower’s pension, that they will face a tough sentence which reflects the impact of their crimes.

Cifas reports that in the last year alone, its member organisations reported 19,751 cases of fraud in Yorkshire and the Humber costing over £68m.

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of Cifas, said:

“One thing is clear – incidents of fraud are on the rise. The internet makes it easier and cheaper for fraudsters to try their luck and they are doing so at a greater pace and on an industrial scale.

“We are never going to arrest our way out of fraud. So we need to understand the scale of the threat we are facing in order to change behaviours and protect ourselves.  And when we have evidence on the worst cases, citizens need to have confidence that fraudsters are being pursued with the full force of the law and that the punishment fits the crime.”

Dreams of my mother & dreams for my daughter.

Last week I was selected to stand as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bradford West, where I was born and raised, and where I live and am raising my own family.

In my first press interview, the reporter asked me what brought me into politics and referred to my own life story. Later on that evening on the journey back from London, my friend asked me how I felt. I responded I would know once I was in my mother’s arms. I also explained that I had many years ago read Barak Obama’s ‘Dreams of my father’ and for me to be where I am today were the dreams of my mother.

I was only 6 when my father abandoned my mother with two young children and pregnant with a third when he eloped with the neighbour’s 16-year-old daughter. I remember being thrown into the back of a taxi with black bin liners full of our belongings and packed off from the family home on Hartman Place to my granddads home in Kirkham Road. We never really saw the end of black bin liners over the next few years as we moved from squalor to squalor, 14 times in less than 2 years, from back-to-back houses where the toilet was outside to rat infested damp houses where we lived and slept in just one room.

We finally had a home, 251 Legrams Lane, purchased with the sale of my mother’s wedding jewellery but in someone else’s name, Azam’s name. My mother’s attempt to provide her children with the security of a home came at the expense of being abused by Azam over years. A man that she thought would save her children from an uncertain and insecure future, little did she know he would be the exact opposite. My mother had sent me to Pakistan at the age of 12 when she felt I was at risk of his abuse. When my younger sister was growing up and my mother felt she was now at risk, and following years of anti-depressants, failed suicide attempts and feeling desperate and destitute… she snapped.

She killed the man who abused her.

I remember how my days and nights became one, how my world was turned upside down, how I became a mother to my two siblings who were 11 and 13 at the time. Up until then, the worst I had known personally was my own forced marriage through emotional blackmail when I was just 15 years old whilst in Pakistan. I never went back to schooling and my first job was at Society Linen hire on Usher St, the laundry service for the local hospitals. I moved on to packing crisps at Seabrook’s which was a huge improvement in job and wages. By January 1992 I wanted to go back to college after leaving my own husband who used his fists to communicate and now this.

My life now revolved around solicitor and prison visits. I didn’t know how to run a house and I used to smoke ten Benson’s and read the Sun for crying out loud. I remember the first day I visited my mother at Newhall Prison, when I left it was like leaving a crying child at nursery for the first time, I now became a mother to my mother. We lost the house, we lost everything and the moving around started all over again.

We campaigned with the Southall Black Sisters and were supported by other women’s group across the country like Justice for Women. Together we managed to get my mother’s tariff reduced from 20 to 12 years but my mum still served 14 years before being released on parole as we had to work with the Parole board to satisfy them as she was no longer a risk. The 14 years is a story in itself, as is that of my own and my sibling’s survival, being homeless, desperate and alone with just each other and some friends who we made along the way. But that story is for another day.

I became a carer for children with disabilities as my mother had also been a carer. I then went on to become an advocate for women with disabilities and their carers. I felt my calling was to help people and I then joined the Samaritans. I didn’t realise how much anger I carried inside me towards the ‘systems’ that failed me and my family because I had turned it into this force to change people’s lives. I would get emotional about the families I was helping and angry if they weren’t getting the right services, until one day my mentor pulled me to one side and asked me why was I so upset when families didn’t get the services they needed, how much of this is really about the failure you experienced? That conversation was a game changer for me.

I quickly realised to effect change I must be able to influence decision making and that’s when I joined the NHS. To begin with, I managed giving out grants and ‘Patient and Public Involvement’ and we then started ‘commissioning services’. I found my niche when my manager recognised my talent and invested heavily in my leadership development. I fell in love with the idea of ‘Leadership’ and am still in love with the notion of it being the key to change society for the betterment of humanity.

Beyond my own career, I continued to fly the flag around violence against women through speaking at conferences and contributing to discussions. I didn’t really appreciate exactly how much I was using my own natural leadership and passion to influence policy and change.

Now where does this fit in with the dreams of my mother?

When my father left my mother it was my mother that was ostracized and persecuted. It was my mother who became the ‘fallen one’. When my mother didn’t tell her story of abuse at her trail due to the fear of ‘izzat (honour/shame) it was my mother who was not believed. Every chapter of her life following her marriage is a book in itself, how her husband refused to pick up her first child because she was a girl, how she was battered by her husband and how she lost children due to beatings.

How she lost all her ‘izzat’ when she was on the front page of the local rag as a murderer and sentenced to 20 years. She laid bare for the whole world to see her wounds of sexual exploitation at an appeal only to be dismissed as incapable of belief and then once again before the Lord Chief Justice who finally accepted she was driven to kill and he reduced her tariff.

So you see for me, to be selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate is not really about me, it’s the dream of my mother. I remember my mum saying, “Naseem I would be so happy if you became a prison governor as you could help women like me.” When I expressed my interest last year for politics as it’s where I can influence change, my mother understood that her story from 22 years ago would resurface. It would open up wounds but she blessed me as she knew it’s what made me this way. My siblings struggled but they knew it is who I am.

My selection isn’t about me, it’s about the recognition of inequality in society. It’s an understanding that we still have many changes to make. It’s my way of making things right because if I’ve learnt anything, I have learnt that through compassion we can change the world. We cannot change things through just complaining. We must be part of the solutions and we must have conversations, real meaningful and honest conversations, not only with ourselves but with our families, our communities and beyond.

It’s been 6 days since I was selected and an amazing 6 days by anybody’s standards. I have been on a learning curve second to none. I’ve always campaigned against violence against women and I have a deep understanding of the role of ‘power and control’, but even I have been taken aback by the ‘power dynamics’ of politics. I had not reached home following my selection and I had at least two new fake twitter accounts set up in my name. Already my ‘character’ has been attacked and desecrated through social media and trolling. The smear campaign that has started has been some of the most vicious and disgusting I have seen. But it does not scare me and it will not change me. In fact, it fuels my passion for change even more.

In a short space of just 6 days, this tells me clearly that unfortunately 22 years later it is still a woman’s character that is attacked. Why is it that men’s characters are not questioned in this city when they stand for elections? For me personally, every attack is a further indictment of why I must stand and challenge the status quo. It gives me more strength and resilience to ensure I win the trust and belief of the people in Bradford West and then this election to bring change in my community.

Today is also International Women’s Day and I will be speaking at a conference as well as my first hustings. Each bit of my story and the celebration of women across the world, overwhelms me that little bit more today.

My mother is 63 now. She is my rock, as are my siblings, but the future isn’t about her anymore. My drivers are now different as I have children of my own. My daughter Leyana is ten years old. Last year Leyana learnt of her ‘nanis’ (grandmother) life experience. Leyana said now she understood what I meant when I say ‘I work so hard so you don’t have to.’ My daughter had £34 pounds in her savings box which she gave to her nani as she had been poor. How beautiful is the innocence of our children, our future. How can this not feed my passion to achieve equality in society?

I have also been blessed with two sons, Aydan and Raese, seven and three years old as well as a niece and a nephew. I don’t want for them what I went through. I don’t want for any child to miss out on a good education. Having experienced poverty first hand, I understand how it impacts. I was the first ‘compulsory redundancy’ in NHS Bradford & Airedale in 2009 following the cuts/austerity measures. The fact that I am where I am illustrates how even against the odds we can create a better future for the next generation.

When I did finally get home that night I was selected, my mother sat up in her bed and held me close whilst I cried. We cried together knowing that whilst my past and my present are the dreams of my mother and her inspiration for me, my future is about the dreams I have for my own daughter. She is my inspiration to bring change and equality for the world in which she is growing up in, the community we live in and the wider society.

Happy International Womens Day.

Naz Shah

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

A daughter, a sister and a mother.

Bradford – A new, world-renowned, high intensity workout fitness programme is set to be launched next week at one of Bradford Council’s Clubactive Health and Fitness sites.

The INSANITY® workout fitness program, created by US fitness trainer Shaun T, which has gained acclaim from fitness fanatics and professionals worldwide, will be launched at Thornton Recreation Centre on Wednesday 11, March.

INSANITY® is a 30 minute workout using ‘Max Interval Training’, meaning that participants work flat out for 3-5 minute periods, before having a short break – just long enough to catch their breath, and then going right back into it. This ensures participants are constantly pushing their limits, keeping bodies working at maximum capacity throughout the entire workout, and taking high-intensity a new level.

Free INSANITY® Launch classes start on Wednesday 11th March at Thornton Recreation Centre Centre, 7pm-7.30pm, 7.30pm – 8pm and 8pm – 8.30pm. Following these, four more half hour sessions will be run during the week. See Thornton Recreation Centre’s fitness class timetable for details. Bradford Council Fitness Manager Paul Lishman said: “It’s an intense workout! You’ve got to be ready to work hard, sweat hard and train hard! Exhausting, but totally exhilarating!”

The free launch night, which will take place in the Sports Hall, is open to both Clubactive members and non-members but places must be booked in advance.

As an added incentive for those daring to take the challenge, any non member turning up on the night will receive a free week’s guest pass to use all of Thornton’s classes and fitness centre.

Additional INSANITY classes will be launched in the not too distant future at Richard Dunn Sports Centre,and The Leisure Centre Keighley,

For full details, view online on the  new Fitness Class timetable,www.bradford.gov.uk/sport which offers over 500 classes a week at your local Sports Centre or telephone Thornton Recreation Centre on 01274 436022

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