With the elections coming up in May, the Odeon supporters have begun a Vote Odeon campaign.
At first it sounds quite a strange thing to base a whole vote on, and it didn’t seem like something that people might really be prepared to do. After all, there’s so much more at stake than just the future of a landmark.
But the more I think about it the more it makes perfect sense.
If you haven’t read it yet, I wrote the whole sorry story on Louder Than War, and was shocked at how many people read it. It seemed like something people still cared very much about, despite years of the Council and the local rag trying to put them off.
Now, with Galloway having arrived and openly called our Council “corrupt and incompetent” it seems to have intensified the public scrutiny of the frankly incompetent and, yes, rather corrupt way that the issue has been handled.
There have been lies and misleading information; the dismissal of more objections to the Odeon demolition than there were supporting votes for the building of the £24million+ City Park; the blocking of any developers trying to save the building; the losing of objection letters; back room decision-making; a lack of available information about the contract; and a failure to use council powers to force the owners to stop the building’s illegal degradation.
In short, there’s a catalogue of wrongs that have been done to that building, to the democratic process, and ultimately to us, which display a level of disregard and arrogance that I’m certainly not comfortable with voting for.
Contrast this with the Greens, for example. During the few years I’ve been following the campaign, I’ve spoken to my local Green councillor and found him and the entire party to have been consistent, honest, helpful, and taking the time to offer advice on this and many other issues. And it just so happens that they have been 100 % pro retention of the Odeon as well, for environmental reasons and because they recognised that it was important to Bradford and had been asked for.
For others, it might be a different party that appeals. But I challenge anyone to read the story of the Odeon and think that – no matter what the issue at stake – the previous Conservative and Labour-led Council have behaved in the way you would want your representatives in City Hall to behave, over anything.
So, in voting Odeon, I am also voting for every quality that I actually want to see in power in Bradford: Consistency, transparency, and acting in the public interest.
I’m voting Odeon, because voting Odeon is about so much more than a building.