A planned new cinema for Caerphilly County Borough could end up costing local taxpayers thousands of pounds, a Labour councillor has claimed.
In May in this year it was revealed the cost of the proposed cinema in Bargoed, which will be paid for by Caerphilly County Borough Council, had risen to £6.9 million and that efforts were being made to plug a funding gap.
According to Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix, the council is planning to take out a £4m loan repayable over a 20 year period.
National cinema chain Odeon has been lined up by the local authority to lease the building, but, according to Cllr Dix, the revenue generated by the lease will not cover the loan repayments – meaning taxpayers will foot the bill.
He has also raised questions over the ten year period the Odeon could lease the cinema for and claimed the council could end up with a “white elephant” multiplex.
Cllr Dix, who sits on the Regeneration and Scrutiny Committee, said he was made aware of the information in a verbal report from a council officer during a recent meeting of the committee.
He said: “I am concerned the council are over-stretching themselves and I questioned officers at scrutiny and was alarmed by their response.
“If it is such a good idea then surely the Odeon would be investing its own money? I feel we are taking all the risk and there is no guarantee that this scheme is going to work.
“It is a gamble and it is a gamble we cannot afford to take.”
Cllr Dix added that Caerphilly County Borough Council should not be “getting into the cinema business” and that other private companies could look at re-opening Bargoed’s old Hanbury Road Cinema.
He cited company Picturedrome Cinemas, which is reopening the Maxine in Blackwood, as a prime example of what could be done.
Last month it was revealed the cost of the planned Bargoed multiplex, which is part of the second phase of the town’s regeneration, had spiralled to £6.9m and that efforts were being made to cut costs and find extra funding from the Welsh Government.
At the time, Labour council leader Keith Reynolds said the authority remained committed to the development
He said: “We don’t currently have a multiplex cinema within the county borough, and, with a population of over 180,000 residents, it is a much-needed leisure facility for our residents. We will continue to work in partnership with Odeon to bring this project to fruition.”
A spokesman for Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “The leader of council recently gave an assurance that the authority remains committed to ensuring the Bargoed cinema development is brought to fruition.
“The council is currently in negotiations with Odeon about this exciting development, therefore it would not be appropriate to disclose any contractual or commercially confidential information around these discussions.”
A spokeswoman for Odeon said: “We are in ongoing discussions with Caerphilly County Borough Council, however there are no confirmed plans for a new Odeon site at this stage.
“We regularly work closely with a number of local authorities to support exciting regeneration opportunities and our discussion with Caerphilly Council continues.”