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

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

Rhyl Journal: Closed Prestatyn Scala Cinema looks for lifeline

“Down but not out” is the message from supporters of a Prestatyn Cinema which closed its doors last week.

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

The Scala Cinema and Arts Centre closed last Thursday. Trust members confirmed that the doors will remain shut whilst a final rescue campaign was conducted but hit out at suggestions that the “Scala Trust has ceased trading”.

Fears over the future of the cinema surfaced in October after Denbighshire County Council said it would be looking to end the cinema’s yearly £41,000 subsidy from April.

Further problems surfaced when it was revealed the Scala was late with its November wages payment – putting the cinema three months in arrears.

Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the Scala Trust, said that the cinema was committed to reopening and described the temporary closure as“awfully sad”.

She said: “The trust is still in control of the building. We aim to work with the community to hopefully re-open the Scala in a few weeks time. We hope that the closure will make people more aware that we do need help. Urgent assistance is required. The building has been flooded already with people getting upset – the Scala is a massive part of the community.”

Chris Bond, former general manager of the Scala, commented that the cinema’s long term future looked “very uncertain”.

A few “trusted members of the community” were given a talk and tour round the Scala last Wednesday night prior to the closure, but were not understood to believe that the cinema would be shutting its doors the following day.

Prestatyn residents reacted to the closure of the Cinema on Facebook with many deeming the situation a “terrible shame”.

Lee Howard, of Prestatyn, said: “I must question the operation, I have called and even popped in personally to ask about hiring rooms for a film screening. I never got a call back.”

Cath Jones said:

“How has this happened? It is directly next to a really busy retail park, with free parking, food and cash points.”

“The Scala is the best cinema in the area and needs to be better utilised,” said Liam Curry of Prestatyn whilst Chris Powell Jones added: “Surely the money that is being spent to tart up The Nova would have been better spent on the Scala?”

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“If it turns out that the Scala Board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider.”

Scala supporters are invited to a meeting at the Beaches Hotel on January, Friday 16, between 7pm and 8.30pm. The meeting is being held to aid with the soon to be launched community campaign.

Rhyl Journal: Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema closes its doors but puts hope in new campaign

A PRESTATYN community cinema has shut its doors. 

A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.
A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.

Trust members of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre confirmed that the venue closed this morning (Thursday) and will only re-open if funds are found.

Fears over the future of the cinema surfaced in October after Denbighshire County Council said it would be looking to end the cinema’s yearly £41,000 grant in April.

Further problems surfaced when it was revealed that the Scala was late with its November wages payment – putting the cinema three months in arrears.

Trust members have said that they intend to launch a final campaign to save the resource next week – more details are set to be revealed soon.

Trust Members have said that they “would be grateful to hear from local businesses or individuals who recognise its value and potential and are interested in becoming involved and associated with this respected venue.”

Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Trust, said: “It is awfully sad. The building has been flooded already with people getting upset – the Scala is a massive part of the community.

“We haven’t given up hope though. The Trust had to close the Cinema and it will remain closed for now but we will be launching a final campaign next week and will aim to get the doors re-opened if we can.

“Now we have had to close the Cinema we hope that people will be more aware that we do need help. The Scala Trust is committed to re opening the Scala if at all possible but cannot do this on its own. Urgent assistance is required.

“I would like to thank the small team of staff who have worked so hard not only with the public but all the behind the scenes and the many unpaid hours worked to make the venue a success.

“I would also like to thank the many volunteers who have supported the staff in making this wonderful venue such a welcoming and friendly place to visit.”

Chris Bond, general manager, added:

“We would like to apologise to all our customers and community groups who will be inconvenienced by this closure. ”

“Whilst we are doing everything we can to secure the Scala’s long term future, this now looks very uncertain. We are all very proud of what has been achieved to date and sincerely hope this will be allowed to continue.”

The Scala opened in February 2009 with a remit from the Council for delivering an educational and community programme as well as being a cinema.

In a statement, councillor Paul Penlington said:

“We are meeting with county officers as a matter of urgency to find a way to open the Scala again as soon as possible.”

“Our town and county Councilors have worked hard to ensure other important facilities in Prestatyn are re-furbished and opened again so hopefully we can do it once more and find a way to keep a long standing landmark at the heart of our community that won’t place any additional financial burdens on our ratepayers.”

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

“We understand that efforts by the Board to secure a rescue package have been unsuccessful to date and that they are now making one final attempt at finding money to cover their debts.”

“While this is sad news for the current company, the Council remains committed to the continuation of a cinema in Prestatyn, as we recognise its importance to the people of Prestatyn and its contribution to the local economy.”

“The on-going uncertainty of the future of the company running the Scala has been of great cause for concern for some time and it looks as if the doors may be closed for a while. My worry is that this uncertainty may be damaging for the future planning for the cinema.”

“If it turns out that the Scala Board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 08.01.15 by Suzanne Jordan