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WHO RUNS BRADFORD?

April 2000

David Wilkinson

Howard Bell

Judith Donovan

Jeff Frankel

John Watson

Sandy Needham

Tim Blott

[Above - David Wilkinson, Howard Bell, Judith Donovan, Jeff Frankel, John Watson, Sandy Needham and Timothy Blott]

There are a small number of very powerful organisations which, between them, effectively run and own the City of Bradford.

For the most part these organisations are made up of a small group of influential individuals, many who share membership across these organisations. This network mostly operates unseen from the public gaze. Their meetings are held in secret, and although many of these people and organisations and the work they do are paid for to some extent by public funds, they operate in ways largely unaccountable to the public.

When required these organisations will band together to form a very powerful support network. Sometimes one organisation will come to the fore, sometimes another will seize to exist, in which case a different (but almost identical) organisation will be formed to take it's place.

It is, of course, all done for the public good.

Who are these people, these organisations? How are they linked?

KDIS begins to assemble the jigsaw....


The Key Players

Bradford TEC

Bradford TEC

Set up in 1991 chiefly as a means of delivering government training schemes. Has a dismal record of failure. With an annual turnover of around 16 million from public funds, it operates as a private company and its meetings are closed to the public. Due to be scrapped in 2001.

David Wilkinson, Chief Executive. Also a member of Bradford Breakthrough, Business Link and Bradford Congress.

Howard Bell, Chair. Group chairman of money-lenders Provident Financial who have a representative on Bradford Breakthrough. Bell is also a member of Business Link.


hamber of Commerce

Bradford Chamber of Commerce

Formed in 1851 to represent business interests. It helped set up Bradford Congress and Bradford Business Link Intended to merge with Bradford TEC in 1999, but this was shelved. Meetings are closed to the public.

Judith Donovan, President. Boss of marketing company JDA, she was head of Bradford TEC from its start until May 1998 and a member of Bradford Congress until the same time.

Sandy Needham, Director. Formally of Bradford Common Purpose, she is a member of Bradford Breakthrough, Bradford Congress, Bradford TEC and Bradford Business Link.


Bradford Breakthrough

Bradford Breakthrough

Set up in January 1990, with funding of around 50,000 from the Government and now funded by private companies, it acts as a network for local business, the council, the media etc. "acting as a catalyst to effect a vision and strategy within the district for the 1990's and beyond." Heavily involved in City development schemes, such as the Forster Square scheme, and the "City Centre Management" movement. Meetings are closed to the public.

Tim Hindley, Chief Executive. Formerly of Barclays Bank. Also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Jack Smith, Chairman of Charles Walls Group plc. Also a member of Bradford Congress.


Business Link

Business Link Bradford & District.

Started in 1995, originally through Bradford TEC, as a "one-stop-shop" for business advice and information. Given a start up grant of 100,000 from the DTI and opened in Feb 1996. Part of a national network of Business Links. A private company owned by the Council, TEC, Chamber of Commerce & Bradford University. Meetings are closed to the public.

John Watson, Chair. Former Tory MP for Skipton & Ripon, he was former president of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of both Bradford Breakthrough and Bradford Congress until 1998.

Timothy Blott. Managing director of Bradford & District Newspapers, which runs the T&A. He is a key member of this and also sits on the board of Bradford TEC.


Bradford Congress.

Set up in March 1994, ostensibly as a mechanism for the Labour Council to work with the then Tory government. Now the major organisation running Bradford.

Run essentially by Bradford Breakthrough, it brings together most of the other organisations listed directly, together with the Council. It claims ultimate responsibility for a number of projects, including City Centre Management and the city's CCTV spy camera network.

Currently being "restructured", including renaming itself "Bradford Vision".

It's meetings are held in strict secrecy, for which it has been heavily criticised. Minutes of meetings are not available to the public. In September 2000 it was announced that the public would be given access to some of its meetings.


Bradford Retail Action Group.

Formed to promote Retailing in Bradford. Based in Mercury House, home of Bradford TEC and Business Link. Membership (approximately 40) is by invitation only. Meetings are closed to public.

Jeff Frankel, Proprieter, Sydneys Jewellers, John St. Also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.


These are just a few of the key players. For more details see the Who Runs Bradford database


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