The church and the state united to demand action over the former Bradford & Bingley headquarters in Bingley.

The town’s MP Philip Davies invited parish vicar the Rev Bev Mason to meet Sainsbury’s bosses in London.

And now the supermarket giant has agreed to host a public forum on the future of the site in Main Street and pledged to progress at speed as soon as the problem of bats in the unused building has been resolved.

Mrs Mason, of All Saint’s Church, said Mr Davies invited her to a meeting with Sainsbury’s property boss Chris Templeman and colleagues after she suggested making a non-political plea on behalf of Bingley townsfolk.

She said: “I endeavoured to tell Mr Templeman the old B&B building is a place of great woundedness. It bears the town’s name and it was heartbreaking when it closed due to the loss of jobs and the whole long-term impact on Bingley since then.

“Philip agreed and was very good at pressing Sainsbury’s on when things would happen.”

The pair were told experts from English Nature were soon to carry out a survey now that the bat-breeding season was coming to an end.

“As soon as English Nature are happy, they can approve demolition. Sainsbury’s are now going to come back to us with a date in July for an open meeting on the future of the site.”

Mr Davies said: “Bingley’s lucky to have Bev fighting its corner.”