'Groundhog Day' for Qbn cinema

A COUNCIL resolution to form a new advisory committee focused on bringing a cinema operator to Queanbeyan will now go ahead after surviving a rescission motion at this week's ordinary meeting of Council.

Several councillors noted it was 'groundhog day' at Council Chambers on Wednesday after the matter was all but decided at last month's Council meeting.

At the July meeting the group of ten councillors were split into two camps on whether to support Mayor Tim Overall's proposal to enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Metro Cinemas for Council to build a seven-cinema multiplex at the former Queanbeyan Nursery site by the river, and lease it to the cinema operator over 20 years.

However a majority group of six councillors rejected that proposal on the grounds they were yet to see key financial data from the proposed operator, including a business plan and recent financial statements.

They put up an alternative motion, co-authored by Crs Jamie Cregan, Sue Whelan and Kenrick Winchester, that will see an advisory committee formed to "oversee an independent feasibility study for a cinema in Queanbeyan by suitably qualified experts" and that an MOU then be drafted with an operator "if a feasibility study supports the viability and location of a cinema and the feasibility study is endorsed by Council."

However the matter reappeared this month after Deputy Mayor Peter Bray and Cr Trudy Taylor attempted a rescission motion of the advisory committee in an attempt to revisit an MOU with Metro Cinemas.

Despite both sides accusing each other of "stalling" on the issue, the original numbers from last month hadn't changed, and the advisory committee will now begin work.

In defending the Metro Cinemas proposal, Cr Toni McLennan pleaded with her fellow Councillors to "do what the people want."

"If the community want a cinema and this is the option we have before us, why aren't we making it happen?" she asked.

However Councillor Brian Brown said the rescission motion showed "contempt" for last month's voting process.

"Six councillors from five independent groups voted against that deal," he said.

"That fact is that the project as it stands and how it's been delivered to us just doesn't stack up. We've just wasted another whole month," he said.

Councillor Sue Whelan was elected chair of the new cinema advisory committee. It will also be made up of Crs Kenrick Winchester, Brian Brown and Jamie Cregan, as well as representatives from the Queanbeyan community and business sector.

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