|Time For Empire to 'Put Up or Get Out'|
Conservative regeneration spokesman Mark Reen writes
There has been a lot of comment over the council's acquisition of the former YMCA building.
As the Shadow on the Regeneration Portfolio it fell to me to support the move by the regeneration team if we were to move quickly. On balance I think that this is a positive development and the regeneration team at the council have provided the council with a strong lever over how the site may develop as cinema.
There is no doubt that Empire Cinema has left Ealing with a difficult issue to manage and has at the same time proved a less than reliable partner for the borough.
For one of the historic homes of British cinema to not have a major cinema at its heart is an outrage and one that Empire have done nothing to alleviate and everything to frustrate - even going so far as to challenge the previous Conservative councils planning order to "get a move on".
The purchase of the YMCA building in my view gives Ealing a direct involvement in the development potential of the site - despite the protestations by Empire to the contrary, and further allows other cinema developers who (I hope) may be looking to see just how serious Ealing is to support a great cinema experience for residents in a central location.
As for the method used to secure the building - the method of purchase allowed the council to secure a better price - the very fact of the councils interest always gives developers an incentive to rob local taxpayers, and I was happy to support a move that stopped this at the outset.
The council has been a willing partner and the people of Ealing have supported council moves to pressure Empire to "get on with it" which they should continue to do.
The purchase of the YMCA building is a supportive move for the location as a whole in my view.
The next move is Empire Cinema's.
I personally would support the council demanding action on the site and not excluding a possible Compulsory Purchase Order.
Cllr Mark Reen (Shadow Regeneration )
14 March 2011