BOGNOR Regis electors and charge payers should be aware that some councillors on the new Town Council are trying to scupper the proposed fourth screen at the Picturedrome Cinema.
At the next full Town Council meeting on September 7, a resolution has been put forward to go back on the decision made on March 4 this year to go ahead with the scheme.
The cinema extension would have meant no extra cost to local taxpayers with a maximum budget of £850,000 to be borrowed over a 25-year term. Furthermore, the new resolution before councillors next Monday calls for the fourth screen to go ahead only if the current cinema tenant agrees to a financially suicidal rent increase over the 25-year term of the loan and his lease.
The net effect will be to halt the addition of a fourth screen which the proposers and supporters of the new resolution know perfectly well and is what they want to happen. Those Town councillors who are minded to support this should think very carefully about the consequences of their actions.
First, if the fourth screen project falls, then over £111,000 of our money will have been totally wasted as resources have already been spent on architects, fees, surveys and applying for planning permission which Arun have now granted.
Second, a perfectly fair and realistic rent increase had previously been agreed with the cinema operators which still means that servicing the cost of a new loan over 25 years to finance the project will have no impact whatsoever on local taxpayers – the scheme is entirely self-financing!
Third, last year, the Town Council carried out extensive consultation with local electors on the proposal for the Picturedrome fourth screen. The results were emphatic. There were more than 1,850 replies with over 94 per cent in every town ward supporting the proposed extension. Subsequently, a further consultation took place when cost pressures meant the community space had to be shelved, and with over 300 responses, again there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction.
Fourth, over the years, some town councillors and residents have always accused Arun of not listening to the electorate. However, at least they have listened this time and have decided not to go ahead with a multi-plex cinema on the seafront.
So what will it say about a town council that may totally ignore the wishes of local people if they vote for this complete nonsense resolution to be debated on September 7?
Fifth, if the town council supports this new resolution, it will become a laughing stock with a deserved reputation for double-dealing and hypocrisy.
The argument that the council does not need to go ahead with the extension now Arun have abandoned their multi-plex plans, simply does not hold water.
The previous town council had been working on this project for more than two years and always said come what may, a new fourth screen would be their major contribution to the town’s regeneration, would give the area a popular and state-of-the-art four-screen facility and would make it easier to attract new operators in the future if the need arose.
The meeting to discuss all this happens on Monday, September 7 at 6.30pm in the Town Hall. I urge all those local people interested in the town council making the right decision to come and ask questions and listen to the debate. It should be a very interesting evening.
Roger Nash (Former Town Mayor and Chairman of P&R Committee until May 2015)