Why I’m supporting Ideal Bradford (2) : the opportunity for fresh leadership

Bradford on Avon has many remarkable attributes – not least the huge wealth of creativity, talent and experience that is invested in its people. We have world leading engineers, materials scientists, environmental specialists, physicists, and other technologists. AB Dynamics supplies advanced testing systems to the global motor industry, for research and development and for production quality control. Their new factory is rapidly taking shape – a multi-million pound investment and a solid commitment to their presence in the town. In TgK Scientific, we have a pioneering scientific instrumentation company with clients worldwide. We still make the most advanced models of the globally celebrated Moulton bicycle.

We have architects, web designers and digital technologists, graphic designers, marketing specialists, international lawyers. We have living in the town someone who has played a major role in designing and implementing the World Wide Web since 1992 – one of the core innovators who has changed the lives of everyone on the planet.

We have a massive wealth of musicians. In the Wiltshire Music Centre, we have one of the finest acoustic music venues in the country, regularly attracting world-class classical, jazz, world music and folk performers who consistently praise the Centre’s atmosphere and intimacy.

We have nationally recognised artists, athletes, academics, actors, writers and authors. From you to me is an international publishing company, founded and still based in the town, that “believes in inspiring and bringing people together by making it easy for them to capture and share their own real and amazing life stories and moments from every step of life’s journey”.

We have a substantial pool of talent and experience among those who are retired. And we have three first-class schools in the town, providing a full and varied education to our children – tomorrow’s inspiration and success.

AND MY POINT IS?

We have all of this in the town, and yet we are not delivering against that potential. We can do so much better in creating an environment that measures up to the promise. In too many ways the town looks tired, disjointed, unfocused. Public areas would benefit from more tlc, more colour, more celebration. In the same way that house prices have gone through the roof, we should be attracting far more investment for our businesses, our cultural pursuits, our community resources. We can be so much more than we are, for everyone in the town.

To achieve that, we need leadership and the Town Council is the right vehicle for delivering leadership. But only if we have people on the Town Council with the vision, energy and drive to deliver. And delivering results is everything. If the Town Council has a vision and a results-driven plan, then almost anything is possible. It doesn’t mean the councillors do all the work. It does mean them inspiring people across the town to get involved and contribute, in the knowledge that their contribution will make a tangible difference to the community and to their own lives.

Conversations about finding a different way to get the town working better took place in the immediate aftermath of the town poll for the Historic Core Zone in 2015. Separately, others were having similar thoughts. In the last few months, I have seen at first hand those who are standing with Ideal Bradford as independent councillors in this election. Their backgrounds are diverse and strong. Their commitment to delivering a better Bradford on Avon is sincere. It is ambitious.

In their manifesto, they say “If elected to a majority, we will produce a strategic plan covering the full term of the Town Council, examining all areas where it may exercise both its statutory power and powers implied by its democratic mandate as the elected forum of the Town. We will publish this ready for the 2018–19 financial year. We will work with Wiltshire Council, other statutory and community groups and residents to fulfil this plan by the 2021 Town Council election. We will review progress on a regular basis and make information available to residents, to allow everyone to hold us to account.”

There’s an old adage that says “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!'”. Having lived in Bradford on Avon for 23 years, I have genuinely not seen such an opportunity as we face in this election to re-invigorate our town, to provide fresh and purposeful leadership. It’s all in the vote on 4 May.