It’s a reel possibility

A part-time cinema in The Priory Centre, St Neots, is a realistic and feasible way of spending £1million, according to the town council. However, it was announced at a meeting last Wednesday that councillors are continuing to look at providing a swimming

A part-time cinema in The Priory Centre, St Neots, is a realistic and feasible way of spending £1million, according to the town council.

However, it was announced at a meeting last Wednesday that councillors are continuing to look at providing a swimming pool.

This could use up a large share of the £1million windfall from St Neots Lord of the Manor Peter Rowley, while the cinema could be cheaper than expected.

A cinema could be provided a few nights a week in the Great Hall, which would have refurbished seating, a high-specification digital projector, a high-quality screen and surround sound system, the meeting heard.

Peter Joignant, interim leisure manager for St Neots Town Council, said: "We want something that is both realistic and achievable. It is a large sum of money.

"The public will expect the same high standard that they get when they visit large cinemas and we can more than cater for this with a £1million budget."

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Estimates suggest the town council could buy a digital projector for £59,000, seating for £80,000 and a screen for £17,000.

Town clerk Philip Devonald said: "This is a realistic and possible project that will benefit as many people as possible. A cinema seems to be both sustainable and affordable.

"The Priory Centre was designed to be a cinema and already has a projector room and we could show new-release films."

Screen East, which has been approached by the council, told The Hunts Post that new-release film reels cost from £80 to £100 (£50-60 for digital films) to hire per screening. Cinemas also have to hand over a percentage of the box office takings, ranging from 30 to 70 per cent.

The council is also looking into the idea of building a 25m open-air swimming pool that would cost £350,000-£500,000.

Mr Rowley, who is said to prefer the money be spent on a cinema, has given the council a deadline of October 23, 2007, to finalise a project or projects.

However, some councillors feel the project should not be rushed. At the town council meeting, Councillor Andrew Hansard said: "We should concentrate on the procedure and what we want to spend the money on. There is no rush or panic. I think we should give it more time and thought."

Councillor David Harty said: "I do not think we need to rush into anything. We should discuss all the options first and be absolutely sure what we want."

Ideas dismissed as too expensive include an ice skating rink, which was estimated at £4million, and restoring St Neots bridge to its former glory, about £30million.

INFORMATION: Would you like a part-time cinema in St Neots or a swimming pool - or perhaps both? You can e-mail editor@huntspost.co.uk with your views.

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