Bingley Bypass closure for filming of BBC's Better questioned at council meeting

The closure of a major Yorkshire road for the filming of a BBC production has been questioned at a council meeting.

On Sunday, May 15 a section of the Bingley Bypass was shut to allow filming of a drama called Better.

Bradford Council’s decision to allow the road to be closed for much of the day caused anger from local councillors, who said Bingley was effectively cut off to traffic for much of that weekend.

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At a full council meeting earlier this month, Councillor Geoff Winnard said the filming had caused “widespread disruption for local residents” and asked what assessment of any traffic impact the council had done prior to the closure. He also asked how much the filming company had been charged.

The car chase scene for BBC thriller Better during filming on Bingley bypass (photo: John Cochran)

The response to Coun Winnard’s question read: “The impact of the closure was assessed based on officers’ experience of previous closures for events and other traffic/road maintenance related closures in and around the Bingley area.

“Local councillors were informed of the closure by email on 19 April 2022 and the event was advertised in local press 10 days in advance of the event. Advanced warning signs of the closure were in place on site at the entrances to Bingley Bypass at least seven days before the event.

“We are aware that despite this many people felt that they had not been made aware of the planned closure and officers have been asked to consider how we can go beyond our statutory duties in advertising such closures in the future.

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“The BBC will be invoiced to cover legal costs for arranging and advertising the road closure (£2,557) and for the cost of staff time arranging traffic management on the day and administrative fees (up to £5,000).

“Bradford City of Film are looking to implement a film permit system in the coming year. This will enable the council to implement a charging policy based on the scale of the production.

“It will also allow for charges to be introduced for lower-level film and TV productions that still require some administrative support but don’t have location budgets. More generally, being the world’s first UNESCO City of Film has brought Bradford international profile and raised awareness of Bradford as a great location for the TV and film industry.

“Filming of this type enhances Bradford’s reputation as a place of fantastic heritage and wonderful landscapes.

“More practically, it supports the local economy with hotels, restaurants and other businesses all benefiting from the knock-on impact of film productions taking place across the district. The production in question has also employed a good number of local crew.

"In the longer term it can boost tourism as locations become synonymous with a film or TV show, such as the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which has just celebrated the launch of The Railway Children Return with Jenny Agutter.”

Following this answer Coun Winnard said: “Nothing has been given to the town for the issues caused. You mention the Railway Children, but that promoted a particular area of the district. I can’t see how a stretch of the Bingley Bypass being used for a day has any similar advantage for the people of Bingley.

“What lessons have been learned from this? Should we start charging a premium if filming causes such disruption to our towns?”

Coun Alex Ross Shaw, executive for planning, regeneration and transport, said: “We are either a City of Film or we’re not. What would film companies say if we started saying ‘you can’t film this here, it doesn’t sound very exciting for the people of the district.’”