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Financial collapse of town’s cinema dream

An artist's impression of what the Harborough Screen could have looked like.

An artist's impression of what the Harborough Screen could have looked like.

The curtain appears to have fallen on plans to create a permanent cinema in Market Harborough.

Harborough Screen Community Interest Company, which was behind the project, is set to go into liquidation next month.

In April the Mail reported fears for the project with Harborough District Council delaying a decision on handing over grant to the project due to concerns about it’s viability.

Fears had also been raised on social media about the financial stability of the company, and their concerns have now proved to be genuine with this latest development.

The one-screen unit was delivered to Symington’s Recreation Ground last summer, and opening dates for the cinema had been revised several times.

The directors of Harborough Screen Community Interest Company confirmed that it had ceased to trade in a statement issued to the Mail on Wednesday.

It said: “We, the directors, are saddened to report that Harborough Screen Community Interest Company has ceased to trade.

“Prior to this, all avenues to continue with the opening of the cinema were explored but to no avail.

“Meetings of members and creditors have been convened for June 4, at which a resolution will be passed to place the Company into creditors’ voluntary liquidation.

“BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency, a firm of insolvency practitioners, have been instructed to assist in this respect.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers involved with the project. We would also like to thank the local businesses and the general public for their support over the last few years.

“It is a great shame that the project can not continue.”

It is now seven years since the cinema campaign was launched and the project received £80,000 in grants and public pledges.

The Mail reported at the beginning of April that the group had applied for a grant of £47,060 from the district council, but the authority delayed any decision until it could get further assurances over the projects viability.

One investor into the scheme, who asked not to be named, said it was a great shame that the project found itself in the current situation but he was not surprised.

He added: “I think the project should have been put to grass before now, but I think it is important to say that the directors tried their hardest to make it work, they just came up against a number of obstacles.

“However, there was a total lack of communication with the community that they were meant to be serving, which is a great shame and I worry that a lot of companies in Harborough,who joined in with the project could lose a not inconsiderable amount of money.”

The cinema team was also unsuccessful in applying for an ITV’s People’s Millions Grant in November when it wanted £50,000 for a state-of-the-art digital Aprojector and access ramps.

The statement from the directors added: “The company acquired a redundant portable single screen cinema unit which had previously toured Scotland.

“The cinema was gifted to the Company to meet the need for a local cinema within the town.

“In addition, it was thought that the opening of a cinema within the Symington Recreation Ground Area would reduce anti-social behaviour.”

Pledges made to Harborough’s mobile cinema campaign were being cashed around December 2010 as the project forged ahead. The cinema - gifted to the town by the Scottish Arts Council - was transported from Scotland to the Harborough area in July 2010 after townsfolk rallied round to pledge the £50,000 needed to refurbish it.

Harborough District Council yesterday confirmed that it had put a some taxpayers’ money into the project.

A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that Harborough Improvement Team made a small donation to the cinema project of £293.75 in 2010/11.

“We would not wish to comment further than that at this stage.”

If you believe that you are a creditor of the company and would like further information please contact Lauren Bartlett or Adam King of BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency on either 01604 595605 or 01604 595616.

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