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Cinema plan for Whitehaven Civic Hall

Part of Whitehaven Civic Hall could be converted into a cinema, a public meeting has heard.

Civic Hall meeting photo
Julie Betteridge, Copeland council’s head of regeneration, at the meeting

The meeting held last night heard strong support from audience members for The Dunboyne Hall - the smallest of the venue’s two downstairs rooms - becoming a permanent cinema.

John Maude, chief executive of North Country Leisure (NCL) which manages the venue for Copeland Council, said the company was already “looking into the possibility”.

Charles Maudling, chairman of Whitehaven Chamber of Trade, said: “A lot of people don’t want to travel all the way to Workington [Dunmail Park] for the nearest cinema. There used to be a number of cinemas in the centre of Whitehaven, and they are greatly missed.”

The meeting was held to invite users of the Civic Hall to give their suggestions on how it can stay open. Copeland Council, in light of the government spending cuts, must save £2.6m from its budget and says it can no longer afford to pay NCL its current £200,000-a-year subsidy. The venue will begin the closure process in November next year unless an alternative is found that does not cost the council any money.

The hope is that the large Civic Hall room – The Solway Hall – will remain in use for theatre productions, live music and community groups. An alternative, and lucrative use, like the under-consideration cinema, is being sought for the smaller Dunboyne.

The meeting was poorly attended however, with less than 20 members of the public turning out to put questions and suggestions to representatives of Copeland Council and NCL.

The Civic’s manager Paul Tomlinson reported that users of the venue – around 61,000 per year – and revenue have increased over last few years. He added: “It’s performing well but we still need more people through the door.”

Don Messenger, of Whitehaven Male Voice Choir, said: “We perform to sell-out crowds in the Civic a number of times each year, so the support is there.”

However, Maria Morton, of Whitehaven Theatre of Youth, said crowds for her shows had declined in recent years. Questions were also raised as to whether the venue does enough to market itself to the public.

Like the Civic Hall, Cleator Moor Bowls and Sports Centre, also managed by NCL, is “proposed for closure” when Copeland withdraws its subsidy, unless a partner organisation can be found to run it.

The consultation ends on December 7 with decisions taken in February.

Have your say

James, I'll agree with you on this; the Council doesn't do enough to promote Copeland for new business investment - don't know if this is because of the number of Councillors who have connections in the nuclear industry and can't see beyond that. And if we ever get to a situation that "what the Council says, goes" - here or anywhere else - God help us all. But as I've said before on these pages, if people don't like the Council, the place to change them is at the ballot box, not on the WN web site.

Posted by crisby on 4 December 2012 at 08:36

James. Crisby's comments were fine, so:

1. Come up with some proactive ideas and do something about them if you think they can work and

3. Learn to count

Posted by Dean on 3 December 2012 at 19:14

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