THE Archbishop of York says Bradford’s fortunes will only revive with “positive commitment” rather than “pity”.
Dr John Sentamu challenged business and political leaders to invest in the people of the West Yorkshire city during an impassioned speech yesterday in the House of Lords.
He also urged his fellow religious leaders to bring communities together by building on the pioneering work of the Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity group that was set up to help restore “the fabric” of a civil society following the race riots of 2001.
Dr Sentamu said it was critical that more steps were taken to bring private investment to Bradford to reduce the city’s dependency on benefits. He also believes workers should be paid a lving wage, a policy which has now been embraced by York Council amongst others.
“Bradford is proudly resistant to those who would seek to sow community discord, but high levels of unemployment are clearly a danger sign,” said the Archbishop.
“Long term projections indicate the importance of immediate action and investment. Just to maintain Bradford’s current employment rate of 65.6 per cent an additional 10,000 people will need to find employment by 2021.
This is possible – with work on the Westfield centre beginning there are new opportunities – but the city will still need 31,000 new jobs to bring it up to the national average.
“But jobs in Bradford tend to be low paid. It will be important if these people who are going to be paid are actually paid a living wage to lift people out of poverty.”
He added: “At the last Census 84 per cent of people in Bradford considered their level of ‘wellbeing’ to be either ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
“That’s three per cent ahead of the national average. Not surprising, actually - Bradford is in God’s own county of Yorkshire.
“These statistics show the resilience of the people of Bradford. Bradford doesn’t need pity – it needs positive commitment.”