Bradford Council bosses have come under fire after it emerged that they are considering running a cafe from City Hall which would be open to both councillors and visitors to the historic building.

A restaurant currently operates from the top floor of City Hall, which is open to the public, but a study is under way to assess whether a snack bar on the ground floor would be a cheaper alternative to the trolley service which operates now.

The move has attracted criticism from the Conservatives on the Council at a time when services are being reduced and charges for essential services increased.

Councillor Matt Palmer, spokesman for regeneration, said: “It appears absurd that we cannot afford the staff to operate libraries or swimming pools, but we can staff coffee shops in City Hall. I am quietly confident that I know what residents would prefer.

“I recognise the Council says that the shop will be open to the public and in theory self-funding, but every £1 spent by shoppers in this shop will be £1 less available to the existing shops in the city centre.”

He said there had already been serious concerns about the cost of the Council providing refreshments following the £3,500 Christmas dinner in 2009.

Labour Councillor David Green, the portfolio holder for regeneration, economy and sustainability, said no decision would be made until the outcome of the feasibility study was available.

Bosses are looking at whether it would be more convenient for staff to have a coffee shop or snack bar downstairs instead of waiting for the trolley service to come round the building.

“This is an ongoing look at the catering facilities for Council staff in City Hall,” he said. “No deci-sion has been made as we are in a consultation and feasibility process. When we have got that information, including an analysis on whether or not it would have an effect on other business around the city centre, a decision will be made.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said she already had concerns about the top-floor restaurant in City Hall and that the building’s catering services were operating a “cartel”. She said her group had not had their Christmas dinner in City Hall for the past three or four years due to the rule which prevents any form of outside catering being provided in the building.

She said: “I’ve not got a problem with there being a cafe on the ground floor of City Hall where we can meet visitors and have a coffee and it’s at the market rate. But a cheap cafe open to the public which effectively undercuts the businesses around City Hall is a different matter.”

Roger Sheard, the Council’s op-erations manager, said: “We are currently looking into the fea-sibility of this project as part of the overall restructure of City Hall catering”.