Musings From The Padded Cell

Behind Closed Doors

If you see a deadly snake just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on deadly snakes.”
Ross Perot

The Odeon Saga

Odeon Bradford – what could be?

In the end everything comes down to money and the plans to resurrect the Bradford Odeon have reached a critical stage – see here.

Reading some of the public comments attached to the article you wonder why anybody would try anything positive in Bradford.

I remain a strong advocate of this scheme – The Beautiful Odeon – though it is not without risk. However, without an entertainments venue of even this modest scale, we simply do not rank as a city worth visiting.

Most major cities enjoy an arena; outside of London, only Birmingham and Manchester appear to have a similar mid-sized venue as the Odeon is proposed. For too long all we have had is St George’s Hall which is a bingo venue by modern day standards.

It has not attracted decent acts for decades. And if the Council are spending £8.5m on this poor relation can’t somebody add up the comparable economic benefits offered by the Odeon scheme?

Researching the nearby Leeds Arena it appears that Leeds City Council funded the Arena in part through the sale proceeds of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) and a grant/loan circa £10m from Yorkshire Forward. It is not clear if private debt was involved.

Interestingly Bradford used it’s share of the LBA sale to fund six new special schools according to my source backed up by this piece from the BBC archives.

In Leeds, some of the £51m share has gone on a new concert venue. Bradford received £50m and said it had spent £19m on a school rebuilding scheme.

Leeds Council said the funds had contributed towards a new city centre swimming facility and the refurbishment of the Grand Theatre and the City Varieties.

But what of the many doom mongers; what would they propose other than knocking the Odeon down?

Proposed in 2006 to replace the Odeon. Ugly beyond belief.

This monstrosity was proposed years ago in a £55m scheme that, thankfully, came to nothing other than lining many pockets.

Take a look here to see how the same buffoons spent £35m of public money and judge for yourself what they achieved?

More recently, if we cannot attract interest to get the old police station site redeveloped – opposite the Odeon – what chance with much of the same? A redeveloped Odeon could be a talisman for Bradford.

Given this was easily the most commented upon article in the local rag in recent weeks, do you think Hapless Hinchcliffe and her cronies were paying attention to the results of the survey with 77% of respondents behind the project?

As they met to consider a £12m council loan, there was some positive news here.

Leeds City Region LEP have chosen the Bradford Odeon project as their bid for £4 million from the government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

This is a pot of money that Boris Johnson could spend before breakfast but at least it is great that the Odeon project has yet more support albeit the decision is not till March.

And just before we write off Bradford consider what happened in Liverpool – see here. Proof that a quality retail and entertainment offering can steal back a lost audience?

The council loan was approved “in principle” but the charade of a behind closed doors approach and the vague terminology offered little confidence.

Me again!

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw…described a revamped Odeon as an “absolute game changer” for Bradford, stating that the Council borrowing element would be paid back by rent and business rates.

By Spring next year maybe we shall finally be on with this.


Young Alex should note that most loans are repaid by structured instalments of capital and interest. Rent and rates are not the same thing…pedantic?

G’Day And Welcome Back!

“Good morning everybody.”

Regaining the Ashes in 2005 after what seemed an eternity should have ushered in a golden age for the game of cricket. Instead, the following year the game vanished from sight as far as terrestrial television was concerned.

And, whilst participation at grass roots level increased in Australia post their loss, in England it began to decline. One of the clear reasons for this was it’s invisibility to a large section of children.

It may have taken fifteen years but, thankfully, the game will make a return to the BBC in 2020; but is it too little, too late?

Lord Patel of Bradford believes the new ECB deal, signed with Sky and the BBC this summer, could be a last chance for cricket to regain its lofty place among the summer sporting calendar. So ran a recent article in the T&A.

The coverage is welcome albeit for this old lag, too focused as far as live action is concerned on the T20 format. The scale of the challenge is illustrated by Patel here.

“Only one per cent of people are playing cricket above the age of 12.”

Where I take issue with Patel is his lack of understanding of the grass roots game. Simply building new pitches for a game struggling to maintain mass participation smacks of an ill-conceived strategy.

The investment should be directed at energising the current stock of clubs not an exercise in political correctness ticking the usual boxes. And he should come and talk to those of us that keep clubs alive not simply roll up with a bag each week.

{I wrote to him and extended an invitation.}

Finally, the strategy he outlines flies in the face of the reality that local leagues are still largely run by dinosaurs who believe Fred Trueman is still opening the bowling for England after a shift down the pit.

“Nay when I were a lad there were loads of ice!”

Selling a take-way format to youngsters then expecting them to adapt to the “good old days” is fatally flawed.

Footnote – Idle CC

The sad demise of ICC should serve another warning to all grass roots clubs and not just cricket.

I’ve met some wonderful characters associated with ICC including the inimitable Arthur Hogg, John Anderson and latterly the unforgettable and undervalued Corky.

However, to cite financial reasons is in need of greater explanation but don’t expect that from the Cut & Paste Argus.

Wikipedia describes the Bradford Premier League as “an amateur cricket competition centred in Bradford.” This could not be further from the truth as money flows freely into players’ pockets.

You may rightly argue that it has always been so although in days of old flourishing bars and sizeable paying crowds guaranteed an income stream. Today the crowds have vanished and few bars are busy.

Compounding this pressure has been the move towards Premier Leagues, orchestrated by the game’s governing body the English Cricket Board (ECB). Whether wittingly or otherwise, the ECB have created a survival of the fittest – or wealthiest.

The fact that a club such as ICC could fall from grace so quickly – it still has a Clubmark accreditation I believe – suggest that if you cannot or will not pay your way there is no place in the Bradford Premier League for you.

And, if you then have to ship a load of players in who simply expect to play and go, your club will also vanish faster than the same players. Which blows a hole in Lord Patel’s grand idea of build and they shall play.

These are immensely challenging times for grass roots sport.

Look after your club because once it’s gone chances are there’s no coming back.

One Hundred Years Ago

A fascinating tale this week of the morality of the times a century ago – see “100 guineas in damages for young woman led astray by married soldier”.

Plus a description of nearby Windhill almost two hundred years ago and perhaps the origins of Windhill Cricket Club?

The Perfect Poached Egg

This is from Michael White and the final submission this year.

“One large coffee cup filled 1/3 with boiling water. Place a saucer on top then one minute in microwave. Yes sorry microwave
Bang on”

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