In a statement today, the Macleay Valley Business Chamber spoke out about the Kempsey Cinema project.
The Chamber said that while there has been changes to the funding structure of the project, it continues to support the initiative.
“At a recent Macleay Valley Business Chamber meeting, attendees agreed to continue Chamber support for the Kempsey CBD Cinema project on the same principals that it will bring both social and economic benefits to our town,” the statement read.
“The Cinema project is projected to increase employment opportunities, social interaction, new business and business growth opportunities and increase activity in the CBD. It is an additional feature for residents and visitors to the region and will assist to retain spend in our community.”
“The Chamber places an importance on forward thinking particularly for large projects and believes we need to be active to bring new opportunities to our region.”
During a Kempsey Shire Council meeting held last week, councillors voted to move ahead with the construction of the Kempsey Cinema project which will see a four-screen cinema complex erected in Kempsey Central.
Councillors debated the issue at length with five out of nine councillors voting to move ahead with the project under a different funding model.
The new funding model means council will not be entering into a Public Private Partnership – the subject of much controversy and the arrangement that was rejected by the Office of Local Government.
Instead, council will enter into a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) which will see council make a payment of $2 million to Gowings Bros for cinema construction costs. A Federal Government grant of $2m will also be contributed and Gowings will also be investing more than $2m into the project.
The main arguments raised by councillors during the debate were:
- Cr Leo Hauville argued that the cinema project is “not convincing” and that the money could be better invested elsewhere.
- Cr Mark Baxter and Cr Anthony Patterson argued that the project is a strong long-term investment that will bring hundreds of people to Kempsey and contribute to community progression and development.
- Cr Anna Shields said she is strongly ‘for’ a cinema in Kempsey but opposed the idea of giving $2 million to a “private company that doesn't need it when it could be used in so many other areas in our community.”
The community reaction has been varied and has mirrored each of the councillor’s points. The recent announcement that the Bandbox cinema will be opening for summer has added to the debate.
At this stage, locals are awaiting the publishing of the VPA by council at which time the community will have a minimum of 28 days to lodge submissions.