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Bradford Cathedral free of ‘terrible mess’

31 January 2008

by Pat Ashworth

Free at last: Bradford Cathedral

Free at last: Bradford Cathedral

BRADFORD Cathedral is no longer in debt, and is in effect freed from bankruptcy, the Dean, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, was able to announce on Tuesday. The Cathedral has been in difficulties since the failure of the Life Force Exhibition in 2001, a project that had received a grant of £2.1 million from the Millennium Commission. Total debts were about £4 million.

Creditors agreed in August 2004 to a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), under which they would all receive a small proportion of what they were owed: a solution described by the Dean who had been in post 2002-04, the Very Revd Dr Christopher Hancock, as “the best — if not the only — way out of this terrible mess” (News, 13 August 2004).

Dr Ison, who was appointed in September 2005, said on Tuesday: “We’ve been bumping along the bottom, trying to keep our head above water, for the last seven years since the project collapsed. It’s such a relief to get the piece of paper that says we’ve been discharged from bankruptcy.” He expressed “real regret” about the debts, especially those to “small local creditors”.

When Life Force failed in 2001, alternative uses were sought for St Peter’s House, the former post

office that had been acquired for

the project, but none could be found. It was finally bought with Arts Council money in July last year by Kala Sangam, a South Asian arts group.

Creditors received 7p in the pound for what they were owed. The CVA safeguarded the life of the cathedral, but it was not allowed to receive any money above the basic income. Even legacies had to go to the creditors. “The congregation have been very faithful in giving us money, but we have not been able

to raise any funds from elsewhere,” said the Dean.

“Most people I’ve talked to in the city recognise that [Life Force] was an attempt to do something for the city by the cathedral, and the fact that it was made insolvent was not due directly to the cathedral, but to do with the bodies connected with it and with the project.

“There has been a fair amount of goodwill towards us. . . There have been some exciting developments in interfaith work in the city about shared values,” said Dr Ison.

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