ONE of Bradford’s most influential home-grown charities is backing efforts to develop a Business Improvement District in the city centre.
QED, which launched in 1990 and has supported more than 30,000 people from ethnic minorities through education and training, says a BID could make a real difference in helping to boost the local economy and, with it, the future prospects of thousands of citizens.
Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, the founder and chief executive of QED (pictured), said: “Improving the city centre, making it smarter, safer and more welcoming, will help to encourage more businesses to invest in Bradford and deliver better job prospects as a result.
“Bradford is the youngest city in the UK and we need to find good, sustainable employment for our young people if it is to grow and provide the quality of living that they deserve.
“Changing Bradford’s image is a big challenge but it is starting to happen and the improvements the BID can bring will be an important piece in the jigsaw.”
The award-winning QED charity works to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations and its mission is to work towards building a harmonious and prosperous society for future generations.
It enables and supports mainstream organisations and ethnic minority communities to work more effectively to address the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and has raised and invested more than £15 million directly in those communities.
Dr Ali said: “QED is fully supportive of the BID. It has the power to transform lives for the better and we would urge all of those taking part in the ballot to join us in voting Yes!”
More than 630 businesses and organisations in a defined area will be asked to vote on whether the BID project should go ahead in a ballot which starts on September 13. If a majority of those who take part vote in favour – and if, between them, they represent more than half of the total rateable value of the area’s properties – the BID will be formally established before the end of 2018 and will operate until December 2023.
In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, all businesses in the area (except those below a threshold) will pay a small percentage levy on their business rates, raising more than £2.5 million over the BID term.
The BID’s Business Plan has been organised into four key “pillars” – Safe, Clean, Alive and Promoted – to improve the safety, cleanliness, vitality and marketing of Bradford’s retail heart, with a wide range of schemes from hot-washing the streets to smartening up empty shops, from helping reduce anti-social behaviour to additional city centre lighting schemes, from creating new festivals to bringing in special street markets, from marketing the city nationally to lobbying government for more investment.
Ian Ward, the BID Development Group chairman, said: “We’re enormously grateful for QED’s support. They have done – and continue to do – some really amazing work in helping disadvantaged people, improving their prospects and promoting integration.
“If the BID can help them in even a small way, we will be very proud.”