The debate over where a multiplex cinema should be situated in Scarborough, North Bay or Town Centre, is of vital importance to residents and the town’s economy. Therefore, as UKIP may have a significant say on how the town may be run in the next four years, we feel it is important to place our position on this issue on public record.
It is beyond doubt that Scarborough has been crying out for a multiplex cinema for well over 25 years. So why have we still not got one? The answer, UKIP believe, lies in past and present Town Hall policy. For many years, as many residents and potential developers might testify, Town Hall arrogance dictated that developers could only bring new developments to the town if they conformed to the Town Hall’s edicts. This was a very restrictive attitude and forced several perfectly sound projects to be abandoned.
In many ways the current situation is even worse. New projects are not even considered unless they are put forward by Benchmark, the Council’s preferred bidder. The reason Scarborough has no multiplex cinema is not because operators are not interested in developing one. Evidence suggests they most certainly are, but because vested interests and, in our opinion, a far too close relationship with Benchmark permeates the corridors of power in the Town Hall and this stifles any other bidder.
The current administration in the Town Hall, UKIP believe, does not favour the North Street car park site for a multiplex cinema because their friends at Benchmark want to build a multiplex on the Atlantis pool site: that’s the bottom line. Town Hall support for Benchmark is overwhelming and has been demonstrated over and over again.
What other firm, but Benchmark, could promise a new multimillion pound leisure park and then build a block of flats? What other organisation could persuade the Council to part with a freehold worth millions of pounds, such as the freehold of the Sands development which they extracted from the Council for a measly £25,000, but Benchmark?
These gifts, however, are as nothing compared to the £9 million now being given to Benchmark by the Council to build the new water park. So Town Hall support for Benchmark’s bid for the Atlantis site should come as no surprise to anyone. However, what has come as a surprise to the Town Hall is the rejection of Benchmark’s plans for a multiplex cinema on the Atlantis site by the planning committee.
So why did members of this committee vote this proposal down? Well UKIP cannot speak for the committee, but evidence would suggests that elected members, not under the control of the current leadership, recognised that the Atlantis site was not suitable for a multiplex cinema and UKIP agree with their perfectly understandable decision. The Atlantis site is difficult to access, is on the periphery of the town and will only enhance the profits of Benchmark.
The North Street car park site, on the other hand, is centrally located, has good access and will enhance the town centre economy. Moreover, the developers, the Shaw family, have the money and the planning permission to start building us a multiplex now. Indeed the only reason they cannot start, is because as Nikolas Shaw says:
Scarborough Borough Council [who] granted us planning permission for a development on North Street car park back in 2008, never did anything about releasing the site, which they own, for development.
This, Nikolas Shaw says, has tied his hands. Had the current administration worked with the Shaws in 2008 and allowed them to purchase the site, as Benchmark have been allowed to purchase Council sites in the North Bay, then we would by now have a multiplex cinema.
The Atlantis site is perfect for an all weather leisure facility such as the previously proposed LEGOLAND project; and in our view, it would be a big mistake to let Benchmark or indeed any other developer waste the opportunity to attract a quality all weather, all year round, entertainment venue in the North Bay.
So let us be clear, UKIP supports leisure projects in all regions of the Borough but we will never discriminate against developers. Our policy is to always be fair and transparent in our dealings with those wishing to bring development to the Borough and the playing field in a UKIP run Council will definitely be level.