Yorkshire Forward has denied allegations it threatened to claim damages against Bradford Council if a planning application to demolish the Odeon building was rejected.

Campaigners from the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (Borg) grilled Yorkshire Forward bosses during a question-and-answer session at the Midland Hotel, Bradford, yesterday.

The controversy revolved around last month’s decision by the Council’s regulatory and appeals committee to approve a planning application from Langtree Artisan and Yorkshire Forward for the Odeon to be demolished and replaced by a mixed-use development.

Borg supporter John Pashley, said: “It’s acknowledged within the Council that the regulatory and appeals committee were unable to reject your application to demolish the Odeon because they were told that, if they did, you would appeal against the decision and claim considerable damages.

“Is it morally right that a publicly-funded quango should get its way through the threat of a financial penalty?”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Yorkshire Forward, said: “I would be astonished if any public agency got into a position where it was seeking damages off another public agency it was working in partnership with. I am confident that was not the case. A democratic decision has been made and I would hope people would accept that.”

Yesterday, Borg supporter John Tempest, referred to a statement by Yorkshire Foreward’s Jan Anderson in which she said she would get the board to sell the Odeon to any developer who was willing to turn it into a concert hall or theatre.

Yorkshire Forward insisted this had been taken out of context.

Mr Tempest said: “In this room, a director of York-shire Forward stood here and lied to the people of Bradford. What should the people of Bradford think in the future when someone from Yorkshire Forward stands up?”

Mr Riordan hit back by saying: “I don't agree anyone lied and nor would they. We will have to agree to disagree on that.”