Letter to the editor: cinema project doesn’t add up

KEMPSEY CINEMA: Artist's design of what Kempsey Central would look like with the new cinema completed.
KEMPSEY CINEMA: Artist's design of what Kempsey Central would look like with the new cinema completed.

The recommendations adopted by councillors ($2 million gift and Voluntary Planning Agreement) were based on information, including:

We accept that the project as a whole is not commercially viable. This is in the sense that a private party could not develop and operate a cinema complex whilst returning a profit. (A/G.M 28 Aug '17).

The project is not a commercial investment and that council 'is only entering this arrangement because no commercial operator would ever do so' (former GM, letter to Office of Local Government, 6 July '17).

Council has advised the Office of Local Government 'The development and operation of a cinema is, in essence, no different from any other service or infrastructure provided by Council. Council considers the provision of this service as a priority relative to others and is willing to prioritise this against other service levels. (private infrastructure?)

It is suggested 'The capital investment in the project by council will not have a detrimental impact on existing service levels'.

I suggest many ratepayers would like the opportunity to debate this issue. It will be interesting, to say the least, as to how the community consultation will be undertaken on this issue.

John Bowell OAM, South Kempsey

Five reasons to say no

Kempsey Shire Council plans to invest $2 million of ratepayers monies into providing a cinema complex to be run by an independent corporation.

Despite all economic logic, KSC seems adamant to go ahead with this project. Both council and overseers (Office of Local Govt) claim and confirm it will operate at a loss but council is adamant it will benefit other local business. This is nothing but a delusion. Below are five of many reasons it should not go ahead:

KSC claims this project will provide 22 jobs. I have attended a large cinema complex (in an area that is significantly larger than our region) on two occasions in the past two weeks. On those occasions the attendance in the cinema was five other people on one and three on the other.

Staff managing the ticket sales, candy bar and ushering on entry was one staffer. One young junior person in total managing the whole complex. At the very busiest times perhaps three people would manage the facility which would be Friday and Saturday evenings when shops were closed, so no real economic benefit to local stores which council claim would benefit. Therefore, over three shifts, seven days a week, approximately six staff overall would run the complex.

South West Rocks has an independent cinema which recently re-opened. A perfectly good and friendly local cinema.

KSC is fully aware and confirms this project as a whole is not commercially viable but persist it is a worthwhile venture byway of other businesses close by who would gain extra custom.

Office of Local Government has clearly stated the project has questionable economic viability along with questionable economic modelling and research.

KSC has many more important issues to invest ratepayers monies into.

I believe this project to be another of KSC’s dubious projects. There is no way that Kempsey ratepayers would reap any benefits that KSC claim. Employment and economic figures quoted by KSC are nothing but fallacy.

Glen Ravenscroft, Temagog