The reel deal

CINEMA chain Reel Cinemas has confirmed its interest in opening a venue in St Neots. Talks are understood to be taking place with the cinema operator, although the parties have stressed they are at an early stage. Kailesh Suri, founder and managing direct

CINEMA chain Reel Cinemas has confirmed its interest in opening a venue in St Neots.

Talks are understood to be taking place with the cinema operator, although the parties have stressed they are at an early stage.

Kailesh Suri, founder and managing director of Reel Cinemas, which has its headquarters at its first cinema in Loughborough, told The Hunts Post: "My guys are in discussions with the town council now - we are keen and they are keen and things are moving in the right direction."

He said the cinema complex would have six screens and seat 800 people, showing the latest films. The venue would include a bistro and would become a community centre available to hire for functions and parties.

Mr Suri said: "Our cinemas are a complete experience. Our staff go the extra mile and there is personal service.

"Customers are treated more like they are going to the theatre. We have special deals for pensioners and children - there are children's Saturday matinees for £1 and free drinks and pensioners' shows with sandwiches at £1."

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The independent chain, which opened in 2001, has 15 sites. This year, four more are expected to open across the country.

Talks with an unnamed cinema operator were announced by St Neots Cinema Joint Project Group.

A statement said this would be at the old fire station in Huntingdon Street, now a

recycling centre which is due to become empty next year.

The project still depends on Huntingdonshire District Council releasing the site for this new use and the co-operation of St Neots Town Council.

However, the project group, a breakaway organisation which also has members taken from elsewhere in the community, believes progress is being made.

Group chairman Stephanie Johnson said in an e-mail that the group would investigate the feasibility of a cinema, identify suitable locations and promote St Neots to cinema companies.

"We subsequently followed over 100 lines of inquiry," she said. "The JPG is pleased to have attracted a national cinema operator to St Neots.

"This is a unique opportunity to gain a top-class theatre and kick-start town centre regeneration."

She said the group had the backing of Peter Rowley, who offered £1million to the town.

"It's all now up to the district council and the operator to make it happen," she said.

However, a statement from the Mayor of St Neots, Councillor Bob Eaton, said the JPG had gone public too soon.

He said: "It is inappropriate to give the impression to the public that some form of deal is imminent and that it is simply for the district to 'make it happen'. We believe this to be naïve, at best.

"We will continue to work with the district council to see if we can make this dream a reality."

A statement from Huntingdonshire District Council said there had been a meeting with the cinema project group but there had been no negotiations with the cinema chain.

The statement said: "Proper negotiations would have to be held, and appropriate terms to be agreed.

"The site is an old depot and currently a household waste recycling point.

"As such, there could be issues around land contamination which would take time to resolve.

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