Gerry Sutcliffe – Labour MP for Bradford South

Dear Gerry Sutcliffe,

I am asking you as my MP to take on board and act upon up my many concerns about the recent decision by John Denham to not call in the planning applications that require the demolition of the Odeon.

Firstly the letter I received from Jane Barr at the Government Office For Yorkshire And The Humber makes nothing more than a passing nod to my lengthy letter (also illustrated with images to back up my concerns). I highlighted several valid reasons as to why the planning applications should have been called in.

I will not accept some standardised fob off letter as the final word on the matter. The LGO should still have my request letter so it should be no problem for them to therefore discount each and every point to you.

The applications should have been called in. They are a departure from several planning policies including the RUDP. To not do so makes a mockery of planning law and policy.

The involvement of Kris Hopkins and Ian Greenwood on the BCR board has compromised the Regulatory & Appeal Committees decision. They will of course say they are not “whipped”, but Councillor John Pennington has already publicly stated that the Tory party line is for the Odeon demolition to be supported. The Council and Yorkshire Forward were funding partners in BCR as well.

The decision to approve the planning applications were not made on planning grounds, rather than a suggested fear of financial costs should Yorkshire Forward have taken the decision to appeal. I was there throughout the entire meeting and before the R&A Committee were taken into a room and threatened with possible financial repercussions, the councillors gave a very public indication that they were not convinced by either planning application.

Additionally, I have had conversations with Anthony Mann (Bradford Civic Society) and Roger Owen (former Morrisons director) who both assured me prior to the R&A Committee meeting that the planning applications were in breach of PPG15. These gentlemen know what they are talking about as both have extensive knowledge and experience of submitting planning applications. The Odeon’s planning applications should have been called in for that very reason also.

There is enough “local controversy” to justify the call in. 2000+ objections, the endless stream of letters in the T&A and the public protests (with more to follow!).

I have voted Labour all of my adult life and I am becoming increasingly disillusioned, disappointed and disgusted with the party in equal measures. The reasons are many and all revolve around the Odeon: the introduction of the unaccountable Yorkshire Forward quango, the goalpost movements of English Heritage policies when it suits, the inter-government collusion with the DCMS over my very strong appeal against the March 2008 decision not to list the Odeon. Then to top it all – Councillor John Pennington’s letter in the T&A this week that highlighted how the labour whip in City Hall completely fudged up a recent free vote on the Odeon. The Ombudsman has proved to be useless – you take the complaint all the way to the top and because you have suffered no “hardship”, he refuses to get involved and pull up individuals from Yorkshire Forward for their deception and dirty tricks. No wonder local people are so critical of them!

It will be very hard for anyone to convince me that the Labour party alone hasn’t had the pre-determined demolition of the Odeon “in the bag” as early as 2004, and that’s without the additional assistance by the Conservative party in Bradford.

Gerry – you are my elected representative in Parliament. You told me yourself you wanted to see the Odeon retained and refurbished at Queensbury Co-op. You said you wanted to see BORG and Yorkshire Forward in dialogue and you said you would facilitate that, but you never did. Please restore my faith in your party!

I need you to to repay my ballot box loyalty by getting to the bottom of this whole mess. Your own website stated your constituents had voted in favour of retention of the Odeon a couple of years ago, so you know it is the right thing to do.

I have been advised by Jane Barr that the entire situation has been placed back in the hands of Bradford Council to “determine as it sees fit”… Somebody needs to investigate the matter quickly.

Yours sincerely,

Mark N


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