I have been advised by colleagues present that during the Bognor Regis Regeneration Subcommittee Meeting of October 16 at Arun, a councillor allegedly mentioned there are two cinemas in Dorchester, one of those being owned by Adam Cunard, who also runs the Picturedrome in Bognor Regis.
He apparently stated there is no problem with them co-existing, and he therefore questioned why there will be a problem when the new Multiplex is built on the seafront in Bognor Regis.
The new Odeon, on Brewery Square, has not even opened yet so we do not know what the effect will be, though we are certain to take a big hit. But crucially, our cinema there has now got four screens, which gives it considerably more chance of survival, albeit less profitably, which is why we are much more optimistic about the future of that cinema than the two-screen Picturedrome.
The new Dorchester cinema has only three screens, so is less of a threat, which I understand was not mentioned either.
I would however like to thank the same councillor for reminding those present that we run the cinema business in Bognor Regis, and yes, we are also councillors.
This means that we have a pecuniary interest, so are prevented from saying anything, and obliged to leave meetings when the cinema is being discussed.
As business owners of course we find it frustrating when, as happens frequently, councillors are ill-informed and give out the wrong information but we fully understand the need to keep our council and business roles separate.
I was slightly puzzled though as to why the fact we are councillors had any relevance to the discussion about the petition; after all, we do our bit and declare our pecuniary interest, so would expect in return to be treated on this matter as any other member of the public would who owns a major business in the town.
Councillor Dingemans in this newspaper also says he thinks the town council bought the cinema to save the building and not the business.
I thank him for clarifying this – which is indeed the case.
We all hope the building will be there for the town long after our demise!
However he clearly doesn’t grasp the point that if we are forced to vacate the premises when our break clause comes up, because it has been rendered not viable due to the multiplex getting all the premium product, it will be likely impossible for them to find another operator, meaning there will be no regular rental income as now.
So what is going to be a very lucrative investment for the town will become a huge white elephant and a financial headache instead, with no secure tenant to pay the mortgage.
A Grade II listed cinema building without films is of little use to anyone!
Adam and I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of our cinema; it is a very difficult time not knowing what the future will be.
We are confident the people who signed the petition will participate in the consultation (if they don’t blink and miss it!) but will not be seduced by a trendy PR company with their pretty pictures and promises!