Concern as loan costs rise to £21k for stalled cinema work

Artist impression of the fourth screen
Artist impression of the fourth screen

Concerns have been raised following the news a loan taken out last March for the Picturedrome’s fourth screen will cost £21,550k in interest this year and a brick hasn’t yet been laid.

The issue was highlighted at the electors’ meeting last Monday, held at the Town Council, by Arun councillors Jacqui Maconachie and Paul Wells who were speaking as local residents.

Speaking after the meeting cllr Maconachie said: “I am extremely worried and concerned, it is such an enormous cost.

“My concern at the electors’ meeting last year was that they [town council] hadn’t researched it properly and hadn’t done a business plan. Getting planning permission doesn’t give you the right to build. It is all public money, council tax, and I am concerned they don’t keep an eye on it. They were so keen to get the cinema going and now it seemed to be stalled. The council talks about finance but they don’t know the meaning of the word.”

Delays to the project for the council owned cinema, which was granted permission in July 2015 and then said to cost £850k, are reported to be as a result of a neighbouring resident’s concerns over a crane at the site.

Speaking last Monday, councillor, mayor and meeting chairman Pat Dillon said: “Our architect has gone back and tried to look at the drawings and find a revised way to do the work without having an over-staying crane over his property.

“That information will be coming forward to us within the next month or so and we will have answers then.”

However Mrs Maconachie queried how much this will cost. “The architect is reconsidering it to make it fit which is certainly extra fees – they won’t be doing it for love.

“We heard about consultants and a surveyor and frankly that should be their job, to properly consider the site, before you put in an application. I am very disappointed we have had this money for over a year and nothing is happening at all.”

Mrs Maconachie also stated her belief that the figures provided for the application must now no longer stand, ‘as they won’t get income from it until it is there’.

Town clerk Glenna Frost, who confirmed the interest figure, said: “Unfortunately I am unable at this stage to say too much as this is still a contractual matter and therefore remains confidential at this time.”

In a statement, the council stated the site’s development has been constrained by ‘access difficulties and the restricted area’ but that revised plans and costs ‘will be available shortly’. It added a full statement will be issued ‘following consideration by full council in early April’.