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High hopes of saving cinema

THE show will go on for Accrington's cinema, Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe insisted this week.

THE show will go on for Accrington's cinema, Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe insisted this week.

The building's owners, Globe Enterprises - in which Hyndburn Council has a one third stake - have already held several meetings with the operator's Swansea-based liquidators and are confident that a new operator will be found in the near future.

Councillor Britcliffe said that the directors of Globe Enterprises had been contacted by a number of experienced cinema operators showing an interest in the site.

He added: "They are working very positively with the liquidators. There has been quite substantial interest from people looking at running the cinema. The sooner the cinema is re-opened the better it will be. It is very important to the economy of the town centre."

Mr Nigel Rix, a director of Globe Enterprises, which is also part owned by Barnfield Construction and local businessman Stuart Nevison, also believes that Accrington's flagship development could re-open in the near future.

He added: "We are in discussions with the liquidators and I am very pleased with the number of experienced cinema operators who have already been in touch with us. I am heartened by the expressions of support that we have had from local residents and business people who are looking forward to the re-opening of the cinema.''

But despite the interest in the building, there have been calls for an investigation into the cinema's closure and into the reasons why original operators Metroplex had their interest bought out by London-based GSX Leisure Ltd. It has been claimed that Metroplex sold out even before the cinema's opening last November.

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said: "I am really concerned about the situation. The top priority must be to find a new operator. Once they have done that they can reflect on what has gone wrong because something has gone terribly wrong. I don't know why Metroplex pulled out a year ago but there are questions that need to be asked.

"Other small towns are able to sustain a cinema and Accrington should be able to sustain one with its population. People should not have to travel to places like Burnley.''

Leader of the council's opposition Labour group, Councillor Jean Battle, added: "It's a bit worrying that they did not do a financial check on GSX as thoroughly as they did with Metroplex. That is an area that does concern me. I would think that Hynd-burn Council will be asking Globe Enterprises why a thorough check wasn't done."

GSX claimed last week that it could not afford the £150,000-a-year rent when ticket sales were running at only 100,000 a year - 40,000 less than predicted.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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