Plans to open cinema in Matlock hit by crucial meeting delay

Long-running plans to redevelop Matlock’s market hall as a cinema could be slowed further after Derbyshire Dales District Council was forced to cancel one of its meetings.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 10:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 11:12 am
Matlock Market Hall in Bakewell Road has been described by councillors as an “eyesore”, “ugly” and “depressing”.

After nearly two decades of talks, the proposals took a big step forward in December last year when councillors approved a business case for the project, committing a maximum of £800,820 of council money to create a two-screen cinema and 50-cover café which it was hoped could open as soon as this December.

However, key decisions relating to the project have now had to be put on ice after the council has been forced to cancel one of its meetings after a booking cancellation left it unable to go ahead with a scheduled committee meeting on Wednesday, June 23.

The delay could potentially push back further a revised date for the works to be completed. In a report to councillors it was revealed that the finish date had already been revised to May 2022.

It comes after central government refused to extend the law enabling local authorities to meet remotely, the council has to meet in physical socially distanced spaces for the foreseeable future.

The authority’s own council chamber at Matlock Town Hall is not big enough or well ventilated enough to safely hold Covid-safe meetings, which is why the council’s next scheduled meeting of its Community & Environment Committee was due to be held at a venue elsewhere in the Derbyshire Dales.

But on Friday, June 18 the host venue advised the council it could no longer accommodate the meeting.

The district council’s Chief Executive Paul Wilson said: “With insufficient time to identify and publicise an alternative venue before next Wednesday we will now use the time to identify alternative options, which are in short supply, but we will seek to reschedule the committee meeting as soon as possible.

“We apologies for the inconvenience but this matter has been completely outside of our control.”

Until last month the district council was able to hold its meetings via the Zoom platform, but the emergency law enabling remote meetings has now expired.

The extension to no earlier than July 19 of the government’s further relaxation of Covid restrictions means that large group meetings cannot at the moment be held indoors.

Over the past year, the council has followed most other UK local authorities in staging meetings on Zoom and broadcasting the stream on YouTube.

In a High Court challenge brought by a nationwide coalition of council representatives, the Government expressed support for the continuation of virtual or hybrid meetings but said it would not bring forward new legislation at this time.

It’s the latest twist in the saga of creating a town cinema, which has been mooted for the site for at least 16 years, as part of wider ambitions to regenerate the Bakewell Road area with new shop units, a remodelled bus station and a community leisure facility.

The council has been unable to secure funding for the whole scheme so far, but intends to push on with the first phase.

Council papers show the cinema could create 18 direct full-time jobs and others in the local economy.