VOTE: Should two more screens be added at the Picturedrome?

Two more screens should be built at the cinema in Bognor Regis.

The demand was made by residents at the town’s annual electors’ meeting.

Those present at Monday’s session overwhelmingly voted to double the number of screens at the historic Picturedrome.

The result of 27 electors backing the idea, one against and two abstentions means the matter will have to be debated by the town council at a future meeting.

The resolution was raised by Bognor Regis Civic Society chairman Laurie Barnes. He said the society’s petition to protect the Picturedrome from a new cinema had exceeded 7,500 names.

This showed how highly people regarded the two screen attraction – bought by the town council for £445,000 in 2010 – and wanted to see it survive in the face of a proposed multiplex on the Regis Centre site.

“To protect the taxpayers’ interests, the town council as landlord should put in a planning application to add two further screens to the Picturedrome,” said Mr Barnes.

“This should be done in such a way that should the building, at some future date, cease to be a cinema then these additional rooms could be used for other purposes. The new construction is to be carried out by the town council and the fitting out is intended to be carried out by the building’s tenant.”

Hugh Coster, the society’s vice-chairman, said the resolution would ensure the Picturedrome could offer more films and reduce the attractiveness of a multiplex with up to six screens.

Roger Nash, the deputy chairman of the town council’s policy and resources committee, said: “We need to look at the financial feasibility of the resolution.

“Certainly, from my point of view, if we are in a position to improve and expand the Picturedrome that’s what we should do. But the pounds, shillings and pence exercise has to add up as well.”

Bognor resident Jean Coles, a founder of the BRighter Bognor group, said: “I appreciate what has been said. If we want to protect the Picturedrome, we need to expand and improve the offer there. But, having said that, as someone who lives in the Pevensey ward I am aware the four wards of the town are among the most deprived 20 per cent of areas in the country.

“It has already cost them £30 a person to buy the cinema. Those four small wards are paying for the Picturedrome while people in the greater Bognor area get the benefit of it.”

Town and district councillor Adam Cunard, who runs the Picturedrome, said 100,000 a year cinema-goers were filling the building’s 380 seats: “Having four screens would give me more flexibility to show special features. It would allow much better use of the building.”

n Cllr Nash told the meeting in the Alexandra Theatre the town council had spent £96,030 maintaining the Picturedrome in the first full year of its ownership of the Grade II listed building.