Fears for future of Harborough cinema project

The Harborough Screen cinema unit at Symington's Recreation Ground in Market Harborough
The Harborough Screen cinema unit at Symington's Recreation Ground in Market Harborough

Harborough Council has delayed making a decision on a grant to the Harborough cinema project because of its concerns about the project’s viability.

Volunteers behind the Harborough Screen scheme had applied for a grant of £47,060 from Harborough District Council, although the local authority was looking at £29,392 as a more realistic amount.

The council is putting the bid on hold until it can get assurances overthe project’s viability.

Cllr James Hallam, the council’s spokesman for grant funding, said: “The amount of grant funding available is limited and applications are very competitive.

“The council needs to be sure of project viability when allocating money.

“At our executive meeting last month, councillors agreed that, while it was recognised that considerable effort had been made in getting the cinema project off the ground, they required more clarity from the applicants around the overall costs and deliverability of the project.

“With this in mind, the council will work proactively with the applicants and grants panel, to review the project’s business plan and how and when it will be delivered.”

Council leader Blake Pain added that he was aware of the level of scepticism about the cinema’s viability on social media websites.

It is now seven years since the cinema campaign was launched and the project has received £80,000 in grants and public pledges.

Opening dates have been revised several times.

The one-screen unit was delivered to Symington’s Recreation Ground last summer.

The cinema team was unsucceful in applying for an ITV’s People’s Millions Grant in November when it wanted £50,000 for a state-of-the-art digital projector and access ramps.

The Mail contacted cinema project chairman Marion Lewis but she declined to be interviewed.

People who have worked closely on the project in the past told the Mail they are growing increasingly concerned about whether the scheme will ever be finished.

The Mail asked readers on Twitter and Facebook what they thought in light of the funding setback.

Claire James said: “It’s another project down the plug hole where organisers lose interest and the general public lose out.”

Michael Weedon said: “I hope it opens – I donated £200 for that good cause.

“Expensive ticket for a no-show otherwise.”

Andy Wright simply said: “White elephant.”