Defend this centre’s service

AS a St Neots councillor, I would like to express my disagreement with the idea that the best use of the Priory Centre is to knock it down and build expensive flats and bars. First we are told that cinema operators are only interested in the Priory Cen

AS a St Neots councillor, I would like to express my disagreement with the idea that the "best use" of the Priory Centre is to knock it down and build expensive flats and bars.

First we are told that cinema operators are only interested in the Priory Centre as a location for a new cinema but cannot have the building because of the important role it plays in providing an entertainment and function venue for St Neots.

Then we are told that the best thing to do is to knock it down and build flats too expensive for most St Neots residents, and more bars to add to those already in the town centre.

Yes, I can see that financially both the town council and Huntingdonshire District Council would get the best price for the Priory Centre by selling it off, but that is not the point.

The same argument could be made for selling off any or all council provided facilities but "best price" does not mean "best value" for St Neots.

The people of St Neots are entitled to better consideration than shown in this report.

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Council facilities should be provided for the benefit of the community and it only realistic to do this with buildings such as the Priory Centre if they pay their way.

This does not mean that events should necessarily make big profits: only that on average the facility should break even.

Culturally, it is just important that young aspiring ballet dancers should see the Vienna Ballet as it is for us to have Joe Brown, Pam Ayres, Steeleye Span and Julian Lloyd Webber.

The Priory Centre provides a service to the community that must be defended.

Of course, it is nonsense to have council offices with river frontage, one of the few views expressed in the report which I support.

I also support the idea of providing a proper building to house organisations in the town which help members of the community.

I expected this report would look at how much needed facilities could be delivered for the town - not how the limited facilities we have could be sold off.

Two previous reports by Ron Inglis and Anthony Williams indicate a cinema could be achieved in St Neots and they are the real experts in their field.

I would prefer to see a cinema in our town in some location other than the Priory Centre as I would like to see the centre continue to improve as it has been doing. However, if a decision was to be taken to sell the Priory Centre, then it should first be offered to a commercial company which would provide cinema/theatre, restaurant, coffee bar and bar facilities and not to a property developer for luxury riverside flats.

BARRY CHAPMAN, Conservative councillor, Eaton Ford

* I AM disgusted that someone was paid to spend six months studying what to do with the Priory Centre area of St Neots when no one has asked the people who it affects.

I live almost next door to the Priory Centre but not one person had the decency to ask us what we think or inform us of what could happen to our property.

The people of St Neots want more entertainment facilities - a cinema and theatres, not luxury flats and certainly not another marina. What would happen to the rowing club?

People do use the grass area by the Priory Centre - they should make more of this as we need some grassed areas in the town centre: just ask the people.

Will someone please knock on our doors and ask us. From what I can see, the first we'll know about it will be the bricks being delivered and we, the people of St Neots, will not have a say before it is too late.

P GORDON, St Anselm Place, St Neots

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