Griff Rhys Jones lends support to save Bradford Odeon campaign


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The Independent Online

Comedian Griff Rhys Jones has spoken out in support of a civic group in Bradford campaigning to save the city's historic Odeon building from demolition.

Opened in 1930 as the New Victoria, the cinema building is known for its lavish ballroom and tearooms. The venue screened films during Hollywood's Golden Age under the tenancy of Gaumont, and in the 60s played host to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

This week the comedian and presenter attended a meeting in Bradford, a UNESCO City of Film since 2009, to launch Bradford One, a new campaign to save the cinema.

"The Odeon is quite a bit of a white elephant, but it's quite a beautiful building," Rhys Jones said.

"There' been a lot of change in Leeds Bradford, and a lot of the area feels life a children's toy box being knocked down, and the question is 'Where's the coherence?'" 

As President of Civic Voice, and recognised for his fundraising for Hackney's Picturehouse, the comedian was keen to illustrate the pressures local communities are facing.

"What seems to be happening is that a lot of promises have been made to a lot of sponsors and because of that we're walking into a lot of problems," he said.

Closed since 2000 the building was taken over by QUANGO Yorkshire Forward in 2003, which made the decision to demolish the building.

Michael Ellis, Chairman of the Council committee approving the building's demolition, said he and his fellow councillors had been "backed into a corner" by English Heritage.

Rhys Jones said: "I'm trying to get more people to see that neighbourhood community action change things. That these groups are not boring, they are cool."

Jim Mitcham of Bradford One said: "It's about the people of Bradford taking control of the regeneration of Bradford. The wishes of the people are often ignored and considered in these decisions."