There was a great turnout for the Scrutiny Committee's public meeting at the Astor. Extra seats were brought in, the balcony opened up and many people were content to stand in order to hear the latest news. Unsurprisingly, the owners didn't turn up but they sent a representative from the Kent Chamber of Commerce to share their news. Mr Foley's announcement that plans would be submitted to DDC in September was met with derision… the town has been promised such plans for the past seven years.
After some very heated debate (highlights included an eloquent speech by Alan Sutherland on why DDC should up its game – people feel let down by them and don't trust their motives; Richard Taylor-Jones urged DDC to have some vision and to do right by the town; Kathryn Reilly brought the panel's attention to some dubious online posts between Cllr Frost and Leader of the Council, Paul Watkins) the Committee settled on the following recommendations, which will be presented to the Cabinet on 4th September.
The recommendations arising from last night’s meeting of the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee. The recommendations will be considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 4 September 2017.
SCRUTINY (POLICY & PERFORMANCE) COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE REGENT CINEMA:
(a) That it be recommended to the Cabinet:
(i) That the Leader of the Council chair and facilitate a meeting between the owners of the Regent Cinema and representatives of the Reopen the Regent Group and the Deal Society.
(ii) That the Cabinet encourage the owners of the Regent Cinema to have regular contact with the ward councillors for Deal and local community groups.
(iii) That a report be submitted to the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee on the feasibility, process, obstacles, costs and likelihood of success of a Compulsory Purchase Order by the Council for the Regent Cinema.
(iv) That the Cabinet be requested to start investigating now if a potential operator for a cinema on the Regent Cinema site could be found as part of developing a viable Compulsory Purchase Order.
(v) That officers be requested to investigate and report back to the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee on whether the correct business rates had been paid based on actual usage (i.e. as offices) for the Regent Cinema rather than based on the historic usage (as a bingo hall).
(vi) That in the event that no planning application for the Regent Cinema is submitted in September 2017, the owners be requested by officers to permit access to the Regent Cinema site by representatives of the Reopen the Regent Group so that they can start to develop a business case for the site.
(vii) That, noting the statement on behalf of the owners of the Regent Cinema that they expected to submit a planning application in September 2017, they be urged to submit a planning application for the site as soon as possible.
viii) That the Cabinet reviews how the Council drafts covenants in future and investigate whether the conditions of the existing covenant on the Regent Cinema could be changed by the Council.
(ix) That the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee be provided with an update on the background as to how the Regent Cinema originally came to be into the Council’s ownership.
(x) That the Cabinet ensures that safeguards (such as a covenant) are put in place if any further land such as from the neighbouring car park is sold to the Regent Cinema owners to support the development.
(b) That in the event that no planning application for the Regent Cinema is submitted during September 2017, the owners of the Regent Cinema be invited as soon as possible thereafter to a meeting of the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee on a date at which they can be present.
(c) That the speakers and members of the public present at the meeting of the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee be thanked for attending.
We sincerely hope that Cabinet approves these recommendations.