Being old-fashioned is part of the Picturedrome’s charm

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I would like to respond in full to the comments made by Mr Shelton in a recent addition of the Bognor Observer.

He claims there is no evidence to support Councillor Brooks’ view that a multiplex is not wanted.

In fact there were previously several hundred letters of support when it was under threat from developers and now several thousand signatures on a petition, in addition to the results of the Town Council’s own consultation.

Yes, the Picturedrome is indeed old-fashioned, which is actually what a lot of people, myself included, like about it.

We do not all want to sit in a glorified warehouse to watch films and prefer the quaint elegance of the Picturedrome which is over 100 years old and Grade II Listed.

As for it being poorly maintained, investment is already committed and is on-going.

Badly run? I cannot say I have noticed this.

I am sure the management would like to know if Mr Shelton had a bad experience there since they are always very obliging and eager to help.

Was a complaint made at the time?

Agreed, some of the seats are uncomfortable, but if Mr Shelton would like to go down there now there are two brand new seats in the foyer, just imported this week, for him to try out and comment upon.

The owner, Mr Cunard, is soon to be reseating both screens, a significant investment from a local person.

As for the new build creating hundreds of jobs – not at a cinema, Mr Shelton; it is all digital these days and five people can run a multiplex.

Yes, there may be a few jobs at the new fast food restaurants, but the majority of jobs in that headline figure will be at the new supermarket we are to be blessed with.

It is noteworthy that Mr Shelton says he knows that the new multiplex will be preferred to the old Picturedrome. How does he know? What evidence does he have?

Mr Shelton alleges there was a biased survey.

Which survey is he referring to? If it is the town council one, I understand the leaflets were delivered through doors in the four wards.

Picturedrome supporters could hardly approach all of those individuals to fill them all in.

It is true to say that it is very seriously under threat.

They were asked their views about the multiplex on that survey too. Perhaps as you live in Aldwick you did not receive one Mr Shelton?

I am sure one of the town councillors can drop one round if you like.

Mr Shelton says that something exciting has to be done. Agreed. But a multiplex cinema? There is one nearby in Chichester (ten screens), another being built in Worthing (nine screens). Crawley and Portsmouth are already provided for with screens aplenty, along with the requisite restaurant chains of course. Clearly, Mr Shelton is easily excited.

Regarding his comments on the theatre - yes, it is tatty, but it is one of the few theatres in the country that runs with such little subsidy - a tiny grant from the Town Council.

Professionally run, provincial theatres have the same shows as the Alexandra, they simply tour around the country. We are never going to be the new West End, or even the Chichester Festival Theatre.

What exactly do you envisage by something special?

Your comments on ice rinks - you are right, they are very expensive to run.

You are also right in saying the nearest are at Guildford and Gosport, much further away than the nearest multiplex, so therefore an ice rink would be something special.

I am sure that all of the people who have indicated that they would like an ice rink are delighted to know it is only because they have been brain washed by watching TV programmes.

Our mayor, Councillor Brooks, is indeed well intentioned, he is also well liked, well respected, hard working and knowledgeable.

He lives in the centre of the town and has its best interests at heart and those of the people who live here.

He is a businessman too and understand full well that people from Bognor Regis do not visit Littlehampton, they may visit Chichester and Gunwharf, but the flip side of that is that there are significant numbers of people from those towns and further afield who visit the Picturedrome simply because it is unique and cheap.

Portsmouth and Chichester already have multiplexes so why on earth would a new one in Bognor attract new visitors from those towns?

It seems that Mr Shelton himself has been brainwashed by Arun District Council, who in turn have been seduced by greedy developers to accept a lacklustre and unimaginative project to give us an unwanted cinema, a few chain cafes, a supermarket and a lot of flats cunningly disguised as a great investment opportunity and the saviour of our town.

He and Arun have so far missed the point that Bognor Regis is a small seaside resort where people come to get away from precisely this type of clone development, many of which can already be found in abundance throughout the UK and which the locals themselves plainly do not want here either.

Mr T Wends

Hawthorn Road, Bognor Regis