Cinema fans face five-year interval

ST NEOTS has renewed its campaign for a cinema, but the screening of Hollywood blockbusters in the town is at least five years away. At present Huntingdonshire District Council officers are drawing up plans for the redevelopment of the Priory area of St N

ST NEOTS has renewed its campaign for a cinema, but the screening of Hollywood blockbusters in the town is at least five years away.

At present Huntingdonshire District Council officers are drawing up plans for the redevelopment of the Priory area of St Neots and this could include a cinema.

Although the plans are at a very early stage and the redevelopment work isn't due for another five years, town councillors are hopeful of getting new facilities for the town.

Mayor of St Neots Councillor Paul Ursell told The Hunts Post: "We have set up a cinema working party to see if it is viable to put a cinema in St Neots.


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"The big operators are looking for parking and restaurants and the only site in St Neots suitable for that is the Priory Centre.

"People expect more now from cinemas - they want big screens and Hollywood blockbusters and we are working very hard to secure that but we have to be realistic. It is up to the district council."

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The town council was also given a grant from Screen East for a study to be carried out by cinema experts to see if the town is suitable for a cinema.

The survey found that five out of the six cinema proprietors said they would want to put a cinema in the Priory area of the town as long as suitable land or premises were provided.

St Neots town council clerk Philip Devonald said: "This is a very promising result - people have been pushing for a cinema again for several years and the council is working hard."

St Neots did have a small cinema, located opposite Barretts in the High Street, until it closed in the 1960s.

Cllr Pat Gregory said: "St Neots just doesn't have the space for a cinema complex. It's just a shame as we are on the border of Bedford where there is a big cinema.

"The only thing that could work is a two screen cinema, which could be run by a private firm but again we have to be realistic. At the moment the town is losing everything and it's about time the people of St Neots are provided with the facilities they deserve."

Chris Surfleet, Huntingdonshire District Council design and implementation team leader said: "We are working on plans to try and improve the viability of the Priory area.

"But it is too soon to say what improvements will actually take place and if a cinema will be featured in those improvements. At the moment things are just being drawn up."

* A cafe is now part of the current £100,000 refurbishment of the Priory Centre in St Neots. It is hoped the refurbishment, which is town council funded and due to be completed by the middle of September, will attract higher profile acts to the town.

Helen King, manager of the Priory Centre, said: "The refurbishment is going to make the outside of the building look superb. The new cafe will also be a wonderful addition."

The refurbishment work will include a new entrance, a new foyer with a cafe, new toilets, a new stairway and glass doors looking onto the riverside.

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