Cinema latest: Rival groups to join forces

A GROUP committed to bringing a cinema to St Neots has disbanded in the hope that handing its work to the town council will speed up the process. On the front page of the St Neots edition of The Hunts Post on August 6, this newspaper called on the town co

A GROUP committed to bringing a cinema to St Neots has disbanded in the hope that handing its work to the town council will speed up the process.

On the front page of the St Neots edition of The Hunts Post on August 6, this newspaper called on the town council's cinema advisory committee and the joint project group (JPG) to work together.

It was thought that because the two groups were working in opposition, they were stifling plans to bring a cinema to the town.

Last week it was announced that the JPG had folded because it found it difficult to operate without the backing of the town council.


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Stephanie Johnson, chair of the JPG, said: "Sadly, we feel our proposal, will make little further progress without the support of St Neots Town Council."

It is believed that the group has a £3.9million offer on the table from a cinema operator to develop a site in the Huntingdon Street, which the town council is due to consider tonight (Wednesday).

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Now, two years after Peter Rowley, gave his £1million gift to the town, it hoped real progress will be made towards bringing a cinema to St Neots.

At the moment the town council has two options for a cinema - Huntingdon Street or converting the Priory Centre.

However, converting the Priory Centre is not popular with all town councillors and the site at Huntingdon Street is owned by Huntingdonshire District Council.

St Neots Town Councillor and former member of the JPG, Councillor Barry Chapman is in favour of the Huntingdon Street site.

"There is only one location in our town centre, which can accommodate a cinema and this is the proposed Huntingdon Street site. If not used for a cinema then our rapidly growing town will be permanently deprived of this much needed leisure facility."

He added that the disbanding of the JPG was sad news. "I'm not sure where this leaves the cinema," he said. "I have explained to councillors that they will need to support the JPG project if they want a cinema to come to the town."

Cllr Derek Giles of St Neots Town Council who favours either developing the Huntingdon Street site or converting the Priory Centre, said: "We will listen to the JPG's proposal but we will also consider converting the Priory Centre, as this makes financial sense."

He added: "We are doing a lot of work behind the scenes but because of the credit squeeze people are very twitchy about investing. This is not an excuse - it's a reality."

INFORMATION: Plans for a cinema in St Neots are to be discussed at the meeting of St Neots Town Council at 7pm tonight at the Priory Centre. Members of the public can attend.

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