Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall.Queanbeyan is no closer to receiving a new multiplex cinema, with the council voting against a proposal to enter a memorandum of understanding with a cinema operator in an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday evening.
The multiplex cinema is widely supported in the community, but six councillors voted against the proposal which is said would cost Queanbeyan ratepayers $6.7 million.
The proposed cinema at the old nursery site on Morisset Street has been heavily pushed by Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall, who set up a Facebook page to garner support for the proposal, which would see the council construct the building and lease it to the cinema operator.
Mr Overall said he was “exceptionally disappointed” the council did not support the motion to enter the MOU, with six of the 10 councillors voting against it.
One councillor, Jamie Cregan, said they had not seen a business plan for the cinema, nor a feasibility study for the use of the old nursery site.
“Every councillor wants to see a cinema come to Queanbeyan,” he said. “[But] there has not been proper due diligence and process … we have a responsibility and duty of care to ratepayers,” he said, noting the council would assume all the risk in the agreement.
Cr Cregan has asked to see audited financial statements of the cinema operator’s existing cinemas as well as an analysis by an independent town planner on the best location for a cinema for flow-on benefits to other businesses before he would agree to the MOU.
Cr Overall said the councillors who did not support the motion were obstructing three years of negotiation between council and the operator.
“This is bad news for Queanbeyan, at a time when the CBD is moving ahead and Queanbeyan is moving ahead a cinema would be another great attraction for people to stay in the CBD and spend money,” he said.
Cr Overall said the cinema would have come at no cost to ratepayers over the life of the project.
“Council was able to negotiate very attractive terms and the end result would have been a win-win for the community and council,” he said.