News from West Norfolk Borough Council


As your councillor I like to involve our community in all developments initiated by The Borough Council. The Borough Council has decided to pursue proposals to partially redevelop the Corn Exchange in King’s Lynn t to include two small cinema screens As councillor I welcome your views on this. I would add that I voted to support it in Council. The vote was split along party lines and in this instance I voted with the Conservative majority, as I believe did one other Independent Councillor.
The EDP reported this project in May “The detailed proposal allows for a 58-seat screen and a 52-seat screen cinema to be developed by converting a seldom-used part of the upper bar area. It includes up-to-date projection, acoustic sound improvements, quality seating. It would see one of the region’s biggest entertainment venues turning to the big screen in a bid to diversify its offerings in an investment which could cost £1m ( subsequently reported as £1.6m as the roof of the Corn Exchange needs urgent repair), but would then bring in some £200,000 a year. The town currently has the Majestic, a three-screen independent cinema on Tower Street”
The overall intention is to promote Kings Lynn as a destination …. more people in town means more spending on other leisure activities, and this supports businesses and employment. Improving the attractiveness of the town is a long term process and adding an upmarket “ boutique” cinema to the attractions is a part of this process. Other schemes such as works to improve the feel of the main shopping areas and improvements to the waterfront have the benefit of external grants. The cinema proposal does not – it will be funded by borrowed money.
I am going to set out the main issues in I hope a non partisan way, although as I said I support the proposal.
Firstly the Corn Exchange is an underused asset. In particular it has a large area above the central foyer which is barely used. Currently, the Corn Exchange requires a subsidy of almost £300,000 pa and if it was able to offer new events then this would be reduced and even eliminated. An economic activity there will not entail significant extra running costs as would be the case if a new customised cinema was to be erected. The business model is such that the costs for new films are typically a charge by the distributor of a % of the actual takings, so if a film bombs and no-one goes to see it then the cinema has not incurred any film rental costs.
Secondly, The Corn Exchange has expertise in handing large numbers of customers for events, and the infrastructure to support this. Clearly management would need to organise timings such that intervals between films and other activities are avoided! It is the case that the roof of this wonderful building is leaking and the façade needs repair, and this necessary work will be done at the same time as the cinema is constructed. The proposal also includes a lift to give wheelchair bound patrons access to the top floor of the building.
Thirdly, King’s Lynn has a successful mainstream cinema, The Majestic which offers a sound value for money proposal… currently before any concessions and special offers seats are £4.50, making the Majestic very competitive with other large cinemas in the area. It has I believe three screens and may introduce a fourth screen in the future. We should note that the owners of the Majestic support the Councils’s proposal which for me is a key factor in my support. The example is Bury St Edmunds where the small Abbeygate cinema co-exists very well with the larger new cinema, and indeed the intown choice seems to benefit both cinemas and the film going public.
I am limited as to what I can say as the details of the scheme remain confidential (notwithstanding the recent publication by the EDP of the architect’s drawings) and the public were excluded from the full council debate.
By the time you read this it may be that additional information is published but in the meantime I would welcome views of our community, for example, will it make it more likely that you will visit Kings Lynn to see films, what you would like this proposed scheme to offer. If you are for or against please let me know why. I will forward all responses to the Cabinet member responsible for overseeing this proposal.
As your Borough Councillor I want to bring issues like this to everyone’s attention in a timely manner so that I can reflect your views in debates…even when I might not agree with them!

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Minutes of the meeting held on July 3rd
Mrs Armsby welcomed 15 members.
Apologies were received from Janet Burns & Audrey Hudson.
Minutes of the previous meeting were read & signed.
A birthday card was given to Hazel Hearne. There will be one needed in August.
Gillian Smith said that the mystery tour on August 7th had changed slightly, & will no longer include a cream tea. The cost is £28, & the coach will leave Stoke ferry at 9.30am, returning at approx 5.30pm.
The Sept meeting will be a jewellery workshop by Liz Murfitt.
ROTAS. Door/raffle Gillian Smith & Jenny Elsey
TEAS Janet Cooper & Hazel Hearne
VOT Wendy Quadling
A list of food required for the harvest supper in Oct, will be circulated in Sept, & Mrs Armsby reminded members to be on the lookout for possible speakers for the 2020 programme.
Mrs Armsby then introduced Roger Farmer, who is a conservation assistant at Oxburgh Hall, working for the National Trust. He began with a brief history of the hall which was built by the Bedingfield family in 1482. Over the years, it has suffered being ransacked, set fire to, & partially demolished, but survived until 1951, when mounting costs & taxes forced a sale to the Eagle Star Insurance Co. Not wishing to be responsible for a likely demolition, they offered to sell it back to the family for £5000. Luckily, three family members raised the money, & the hall was saved. In 1952 it was given to the National trust. Restoration of some items in the collection is done at the hall by conservators, but large items are packed in acid-free paper, & sent to specialist workshops. In 2016 a dormer window collapsed into the courtyard, & an intense survey was carried out. This resulted in a major restoration project to renew the roof, at a cost of £6 million pounds. Free-standing scaffolding is necessary so as not to damage the building, but meanwhile, Oxburgh Hall will remain open, & the 350 volunteers who work there are still available to show visitors around. In spite of over 500 years of history, the Bedingfield family still live in the South East pavilion of the Hall. Mr Farmer was thanked for his very interesting talk by Anita Horgen.
The raffle was won by Sheila Smith & Joy Beckett.
The meeting ended at 9.30pm.
Claire Lankfer