THE Tories have criticised a decision to leave only one potential bidder in the running to develop the former Odeon building.

Earlier this month, Bradford Live was announced as the only bidder to make it through to the final stage of a process to find a new use for the Council-owned landmark.

But the Conservative Group on Bradford Council has now said it was "unacceptable" that Council officers made the decision to exclude a rival bidder, Bradford One, without the involvement of elected councillors.

In November, Bradford Council's Executive is due to make the final decision on whether or not Bradford Live's bid will get the go-ahead.

But Conservative Councillor Andrew Mallinson, a former chairman of the Regeneration and Overview Scrutiny Committee, said without a competing bidder in the frame, this would now be a "fait accompli".

Cllr Mallinson said Councillor David Green, leader of the Labour-run Council, should have been involved in this month's decision to exclude Bradford One.

He said he was not suggesting that officers had made an error, but that members needed to examine the "rationale behind the officers’ decision to effectively remove any competition from the bidding process".

He said: "The decision is far too important for there to be no political leadership, with responsibility effectively abdicated to four officers."

But Cllr Green defended the process they had gone through, saying this had been the plan all along.

He said: "The decision was taken in a way that had been reported to scrutiny certainly when Cllr Mallinson was chairman, and has always been the way the decision was going to be made.

"It has always been an open-book approach. It wasn't simply made by four officers, the decision was also independently scrutinised by an external consultant, to make sure that the scoring the council officers gave was accurate."

Cllr Mallinson, who still sits on the scrutiny committee, said he had been contacted by a concerned Gideon Seymour, chairman of Bradford One.

Mr Seymour said many of his questions over why its bid had failed still remained unanswered.

He said: "If we can get some clear and transparent answers, we will be very happy.

"We have always said we want to work with Bradford Live, Bradford Council and any other interested parties who want to work towards a sustainable future for the Odeon."

Cllr Mallinson is now calling for the scrutiny committee to look at the process as a matter of urgency.