Letters between Councillor John Godward and Odeon campaigner Mark Nicholson

An insight into how hard it can be to get a straight answer out of your local representative .

Mark tries to find out Councillor Godward’s personal view of the Odeon.

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Dear John Godward,

As one of my local councillors I would like a very direct answer to this very direct question:

Would you support retention and refurbishment of the Odeon building, or do you approve the unpopular demolition plans?

Please do not respond with statements such as the Odeon has gone through a democratic process or the fate of the building is not in the council’s hands etc etc etc. As my elected representative in City Hall I just want to know your personal and individual viewpoint – should the Odeon stay or should it go?

Yours sincerely,

Mark Nicholson

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Dear Mark

Thank you for your e-mail.

I am telling you what I have been saying to my constituents for the past four years, and what I have said to BORG Members

The Odeon has never been owned by Bradford Council and the Council has no money to either own it or run it even if it was saved. However, the
building would have been saved if a company in the Private Sector had come along to buy it and use it. The reason no one did is probably
because it would cost lots to maintain on top of the running costs which would have been huge and make any business run there unprofitable.
Despite numerous attempts to try and market the building sent to all major developers no company wanted to acquire it. Some did want the
site only and put in for Planning consent to put other things on the site, and this is what the Regulatory Committee was considering.

I like other Members of the Council have to live with this reality.

Hope this answers your questions.

Best Wishes

John D Godward

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Dear Cllr Godward

I am very disappointed by your response.

In my initial communication message to you I requested that you should refrain from making any statements such as The Odeon is not in the hands of the Council etc, and you dodge my direct answer by doing just that! I just wanted to know whether or not you supported retention and refurbishment of the Odeon…

Please do not attempt to whitewash or throw me off course with the depressing propaganda that certain elected members of Bradford Council has conspired to create with representatives from Yorkshire Forward or Bradford Centre Regeneration. I know that the Odeon is not owned by the Council, but I do know that it belongs to the public as it was purchased with public money by the unelected quango Yorkshire Forward. I also know that the ultimate fate of the Odeon has been passed back to Bradford Council by the Local Government Office “to determine as it sees fit” – I was advised of this in writing earlier in the week by that very office… The Council should now be salvaging the mess it made on September 23rd 2009 in the R&A Committee meeting and giving its public what it wants.

Also, do not attempt to convince me that Bradford Centre Regeneration had done everything within its power to positively promote redevelopment of the Odeon either. I have a copy of the “condition report” that was sent out to the 18 expressions of interest that responded to their 2005 Design Competition. The report – prepared by Ove Arup and following “the requirements” of BCR – condemned the structural capabilities of the Odeon, suggesting the existing building had a lifespan of just 30 years. The biggest joke of all is that these structural findings were established without the benefit of an invasive structural survey – all “findings” described as “assumed” within the Arup report. With such a damning document presented to them, it is little wonder no developer came forward wanting to refurbish the Odeon. I know I wouldn’t have ploughed my money into it based on this misleading information either! Your leader Ian Greenwood was party to all of this nonsense as a member of the BCR board.

You mention in your reply that it would “cost lots” to maintain and run the building… Where do you base your financial figures on? There has been so many fantastic figures plucked out of the air. For example – in 2004, Maud Marshall publicly stated that Ove Arup ( an “internationally renowned structural engineer” firm) estimated it would cost £3.6M to retain the towers in a new development, yet in 2009 Yorkshire FOrward and Langtree Artisan’s agent Spawforths suggest £14M for the same job. You fail to mention the financial rewards a refurbished Odeon would bring (as a concert hall) in terms of revenue for the venue and the surrounding bars and restaurants in Centenary Square that are suffering. The Bradford public can see the benefits, yet you councillors in City Hall are happy to be whipped to follow the directives of your mainstream party leaders who also happen to be BCR directors. Cllr John Pennington has disclosed what happened at the “free vote” motion put forward by David Ward – you Labour councillors were whipped to undermine him.

I know all about the corruption and lies that have surrounded the Odeon issue far more than you could ever know!

So, please (again) tell me if you support retention and refurbishment of the Odeon or its demolition… Your answer is crucial to how I will vote at the next election. As an elected representative of your constituents, I urge you to acknowledge not only that there is tremendous dis-satisfaction with Bradford Council at the moment but (and to quote your email response to me) that you “like other Members of the Council have to live with this reality” of voters you usually rely upon at election time going elsewhere to find Councillors to better represent their desires for the regeneration of Bradford city centre.

Cllr David Ward (and the Lib Dems) seems to speaking my language loud and clear at the moment… and I have voted Labour all of my working life! So again, what is your personal view on the Odeon (now its fate is back in the hands of Bradford Council)?

Yours sincerely

Mark Nicholson

***

Mark

For your information I do not support the retention and refurbishment of the Odeon because there is no money available from Council Resources to do this, and no prospect of the Private Sector providing the money to do this.

Best Wishes

John D Godward

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