Page last updated at 23:28 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 00:28 UK

Film fans demand new town cinema

The old Gala bingo/King's cinema in Montrose
The upstairs of the building still contains the old cinema seats

A group of film fans in Angus has stepped up its campaign to have a cinema brought back to the area.

The Montrose Picture House team said the local community was missing out because the nearest cinemas were about 30 miles away, in Dundee or Aberdeen.

The group has been showing movies in an old church and a hotel, but said somewhere permanent was needed.

They have targeted an old bingo hall, which was previously a cinema, and is now being turned into a pub.

The group said a bar could be operated in the downstairs area of the old Gala Bingo hall, while films could be shown upstairs to about 200 people.

Campaigner Anthony Baxter said the layout would not be too hard to set up, but the developers raised concern about the cost of such a project.

It's pretty disgraceful that in this day and age there's no cinema for the huge population between Dundee and Aberdeen
Anthony Baxter
Montrose Picture House

He said: "The great thing about bingo halls which have come from cinemas is they tend to retain many of the original features.

"The Montrose Gala bingo hall is no exception. At the top of the first floor there's a balcony with tiered seating in it and lovely old cinema seats."

Belhaven - the company developing the pub, on Hume Street, told the picture house group that the proposal was worth exploring because it did not see the upstairs area being utilised fully.

But the developer said refurbishing an auditorium, creating toilets, building a projection room, sound proofing and meeting fire standards would cost upwards of 200,000.

A fresh planning application would also have to be submitted, adding up to three months onto the timetable.

Mr Baxter urged local businesses, movie-goers and Angus Council to support the proposal and said business at the pub would increase with a cinema.

"It's pretty disgraceful that in this day and age there's no cinema for the huge population between Dundee and Aberdeen," he said.

"We think it would be a wasted opportunity if yet another great building was given over purely as a pub."




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