Rhyl Journal: Buyer steps in to save Prestatyn Scala

Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema and Arts Centre has been saved and will re-open in a matter of weeks.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that it is working with a “preferred operator” to take on the venue after the deadline for expressions of Interests closed.

The Scala shut its doors in January after board members agreed to hand back their keys and lease to the council after a last-ditch effort to save the venue failed.

Following the closure, which came shortly after Denbighshire Council said it would end the Scala’s £41,000 grant in April, council bosses said they were seeking serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to open the venue as soon as possible.

It is understood that bosses are now simply sorting through red tape before the name of the new leaseowner is revealed.

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“Our priority remains getting the Scala back up and running as a cinema for the benefit of Prestatyn as quickly as possible and that is what we are working towards.”

Trevor Harris, who was amongst those expressing an interest in the Scala, said he was disappointed after he received a letter last week from the authority stating that his application had been unsuccessful.

The 75-year-old, who has more than 60 years experience in the industry, said he was “shocked and “upset about not being considered and admitted that he had his suspicions as to who the new operator might be.

In a letter written to Denbighshire County Council, which Mr Harris shared with The Journal, the previous owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema said: “My son and I thought that the council wanted experienced cinema operators in view of what happened to the Scala.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 04.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan

BBC News: Vitally important Scala cinema reopens by Easter

It is “vitally important” a Denbighshire cinema is reopened by Easter, town councillors have said.

The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors in 2009 after closing in 2000. (Credit BBC)
The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors in 2009 after closing in 2000. (Credit BBC)

Prestatyn Town Council are repaying a £1m loan which they took out in 2007 to help refurbish Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.

But after the cinema closed in January, the council said residents were seeing no return “for their money”.

Around £66,000 a year goes toward repaying the loan, but it has no assets or security against it.

It is set to repay the loan over 25 years – whether the building, which is owned by Denbighshire council, is open or not.

Deputy Chairman of Prestatyn council, Bob Paterson, said: “It is extremely important that this facility is functioning.

“As a town council, to see any return on that loan that we are paying back, those doors have got to be open, people have got to be walking into and using the Scala.”

Source: BBC News Article 20.02.15

DCC: Council officially seeks expressions of interest as Scala Board agrees to hand back the keys

Denbighshire County Council have issued the following press release:

Council officially seeks expressions of interest as Scala Board agrees to hand back the keys

Denbighshire County Council can confirm that the Scala Board has agreed in principle to hand back the building’s lease and the keys following a formal request from the Council’s legal representatives and is now in a position to be able to seek serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to re-open the venue as soon as practically possible.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Youth and Leisure, said:

“While I am saddened to see the end of the Scala in its present form, it was in the present Scala Board’s hands to end this uncertainty, which they have decided to do.”

“Now, we need to start looking forward to a bright new future for the venue and I can assure residents that we will now move forward and we are keen to hear from experienced operators with a clear commercial approach but who will run the cinema as a key community asset.”

The Council has received a number of expressions of interest and will need to consider these through the correct processes. The Council is keen to offer the opportunity to as wide a field as possible in order to find the right operator.”

Councillor Huw Jones added:

“The Council has maintained its strong commitment and support for the venue as we recognise the value to the town’s economy and regeneration of the High Street.”

“We want to secure the future of the Scala. We have a strong and clear track record of turning around the fortunes of failing facilities and we are very confident because of the numbers of expressions of interest we’ve already received – we are pleased that we’re now able to now formalise the process for receiving and evaluating those proposals.”

“This should offer the people of Prestatyn and the wider county confidence that Denbighshire means business when it comes to securing a far brighter future for the Scala.”

“The Council’s priority is to put its efforts into working with an appropriate operator. It’s time to draw a line and start in earnest to plan for the future”.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release | Thursday 29th January 2015

Rhyl Journal: Council letter shows interest in Prestatyn Cinema

A FORMER cinema owner who has offered to help save Prestatyn’s Scala has learnt two other parties are interested in taking over the venue.

Trevor Harris with his letter from Denbighshire County Council (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Trevor Harris with his letter from Denbighshire County Council (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

Trevor Harris, aged 75, was featured in last week’s Journal offering to help take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre if efforts by the current trust fail to secure its reopening.

Mr Harris, who previously owned Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, received a letter from Denbighshire County Council’s corporate director of economic and community ambition after expressing his interest. He was surprised to discover that the authority had “already been approached by two potential operators”.

The letter, that the Journal has seen, states: “While we are not yet in a position to actively pursue an alternative operator, we are keen to be able to do so should circumstances permit.

“We have been approached by two potential operators already and asked them to set out their proposals in writing for us.

“We are interested in proposal from operators willing to take over a lease of the cinema and operate it on a commercial basis without the need for subside fro

m the council.”

Mr Harris said he plans to set out a proposal but first needed to clarify information connected to the Scala’s situation.

He added: “I would like to know who these other two parties are.”

“I’d like to have a tour of the Scala and look at the books but no one is getting back to me. The longer that place is shut the worse it will get. At this rate, they will end up forfeiting the lease.”

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council refused to confirm they had received interest in the cinema from three parties, adding:

“The council is committed to seeing the cinema up and running again and there is the option to follow up any serious alternative offers in the event that the Scala is unable to continue trading.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 29 January 2015 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Board members of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema hand back keys to council

Board members of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema hand back keys to council

Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)

Denbighshire County Council has confirmed that the Scala Board has agreed – in principle – to hand back the building’s lease and the keys following a formal request from the Council’s legal representatives.

The Council has now said that is now in a position to be able to seek serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to re-open the venue as soon as practically possible.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Youth and Leisure, said:

“While I am saddened to see the end of the Scala in its present form, it was in the present Scala Board’s hands to end this uncertainty, which they have decided to do.”

“Now, we need to start looking forward to a bright new future for the venue and I can assure residents that we will now move forward and we are keen to hear from experienced operators with a clear commercial approach but who will run the cinema as a key community asset.”

“The Council has received a number of expressions of interest and commented that they will “need to consider these through the correct processes” and that they are “keen to offer the opportunity to as wide a field as possible in order to find the right operator”.

Councillor Huw Jones added:

“The Council has maintained its strong commitment and support for the venue as we recognise the value to the town’s economy and regeneration of the High Street.”

“We want to secure the future of the Scala. We have a strong and clear track record of turning around the fortunes of failing facilities and we are very confident because of the numbers of expressions of interest we’ve already received – we are pleased that we’re now able to now formalise the process for receiving and evaluating those proposals.”

“This should offer the people of Prestatyn and the wider county confidence that Denbighshire means business when it comes to securing a far brighter future for the Scala.”

“The Council’s priority is to put its efforts into working with an appropriate operator. It’s time to draw a line and start in earnest to plan for the future”.

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 29 January 2015 | Published by: Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Former cinema owner offers to take on the Scala

A FORMER picture house owner has offered to help or take on Prestatyn’s Scala cinema if the current trust cannot re-open it.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, said he was mindful that trust members were looking to put together a rescue campaign, but explained he was keen to help run the venue or rent the cinema if it became available.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, has offered to help or take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre. (Photo credit Geoff Abott via Rhyl Journal)
Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, has offered to help or take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre. (Photo credit Geoff Abott via Rhyl Journal)

Mr Harris, aged 75, attended the Scala Cinema and Arts Centres open meeting at the Beaches Hotel with his son Anthony Harris last Friday.

The meeting was held to discuss fundraising ideas following the closure of the venue on Thursday, January 8.

Mr Harris, who has 60 years of experience in the cinema trade, said that the meeting was attended by more than 100 people on Friday.

He said that he was given permission by Scala volunteers, hosting the meeting, to speak to the audience and received a standing ovation.

There was a lot of questions and a lot left unanswered – I feel there is something in the wind,” Mr Harris commented.

“The main question was how the hell had the cinema got itself into this financial situation? After I approached those who chaired the meeting and spoke to the audience, the volunteers from the Scala made a plea to me – don’t leave us.”

“I am more than experienced having been in the cinema trade most of my working life. My son, who is aged 46, is the same. I am happy to help in running the venue or to take it off their hands. I’ve written to the council and I’ve had a phone call to say that I should expect a letter in the post. I know films inside and out. I would look at booking Big Hero 6, Shaun the Sheep movie and Fifty Shades of Grey. I would like to have a tour of the building and the chance to speak with Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the Scala Trust. I can sort the Scala out.”

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council confirmed that they had received a letter from Mr Harris.

She said: “The council is committed to seeing the cinema up and running again and there is the option to follow up any serious alternative offers in the event that the Scala is unable to continue trading.”

Chair of Scala welcomes pledges

THE chair of the Scala Trust has welcomed pledges of support following a fundraising meeting.

More than a 100 people attended the open gathering at the Beaches Hotel in Prestatyn last Friday to discuss ideas to re-open the Scala Cinema and Art Centre which closed earlier this month.

Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the trust, expressed that she was pleased that people were becoming more aware of the situation. A campaign titled Let’s Get the Doors Open has been softly launched.

Ms Hughes, said: “The Scala is a small charity and yet we had so many people turn out. It is like a steering committee. I was unable to attend as another meeting cropped up regarding finance. I was tempted to re-organise Fridays meeting, but everything was in place.”

“It made sense for the volunteers to host it since it was for the supporters of the Scala, but I will 100 per cent be at the next meeting. We haven’t got a date yet but its in the process of being arranged. The night turned into a discussion and ideas were generated such as sponsor a seat. People have questions and I am doing my best to answer them and putting what information I can on the Scala’s windows and on Facebook.”

Source: Rhyl Journal article 21.01.15 by Suzanne Jordan