Councillors call intermission on Mayor's cinema vision

A proposal to build a new, Council-subsidised cinema complex in Queanbeyan at the former Queanbeyan Nursery site has been delayed this week for councillors to seek extra financial data.

A proposal to build a new, Council-subsidised cinema complex in Queanbeyan at the former Queanbeyan Nursery site has been delayed this week for councillors to seek extra financial data.

A PROPOSAL for a new, Council-subsidised cinema complex in Queanbeyan has been delayed this week with six of the ten councillors saying they'd need more financial data before entering a memorandum of understanding process with a cinema operator towards building the $7-million complex.

Mayor Tim Overall floated the cinema proposal in an extraordinary meeting of Council on Wednesday night for a seven screen multiplex to be built by Council at the former Queanbeyan Nursery site by the River.

Cr Overall said the venture would prove a "great attraction for people to stay in the CBD and spend money" and would eventually pay for itself through long-term renting of the site by an as-yet unnamed cinema operator.

Councillor Trudy Taylor rounded up a petition with 550 signatures supporting the concept while Cr Overall took to social media to launch a 'Cinemas for Queanbeyan' page that has so far received over 1000 'likes'.

All Queanbeyan councillors expressed their support for a cinema in Queanbeyan, however Cr Jamie Cregan said he'd need to see at least a business plan from the cinema operator before entering into a 20-year loan to build the site.

"We owe it to the rate payers," Cr Cregan told The Queanbeyan Age.

"There is no way anyone can claim it will be nil cost after year six as at the moment we don't have any financial information, a business plan or a business model from the proponent."

Deputy mayor Peter Bray noted the widespread community support for a cinema and said any opposition to the proposal would require an "explanation to the community."

And Cr Overall said entering into a memorandum of understanding was necessary to give the cinema operator confidence in Queanbeyan.

"It's been 18 years since we last had a cinema proposal in Queanbeyan," he said.

"Should we not support this it will be many years, if at all, until we see a cinema complex in Queanbeyan."

However Cr Brian Brown said the Mayor was seeking to rush Councillors into a decision.

"We're being pressured into this through social media and the like," he said.

"What we're deciding tonight is not whether councillors support a cinema, but whether Council is prepared to become landlord, investor and developer in what is essentially an $8 million project.

"We haven't been given the full financials of the company. We haven't even been provided a business plan," he said.

Cr Toni McLennan mounted a passionate defence of the motion and said it was about "saying to this operator that we're interested in pursuing this project."

"I think it would be really irresponsible if we didn't do what the community wants," she said.

Cr Cregan told The Queanbeyan Age he would seek to revisit the idea in more detail at the next Council meeting.

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