Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall fears a cinema operator in talks to set up in the city may abandon Queanbeyan as its favoured site after delays in decision-making by the council.
“Over recent weeks we must have heard every possible reason being put forward by a few to block the project,” Cr Overall said in a letter to Fairfax Media.
“I fear the likelihood of the operator now abandoning Queanbeyan as its preferred option for its next regional cinema in favour of other competing opportunities already under investigation.”
Cr Overall floated the cinema proposal on Wednesday June 18 at an extraordinary meeting of the council.
The plan was for a seven-screen multiplex to be built at the former Queanbeyan Nursery site by the river.
Six of the 10 councillors voted against entering into a memorandum of understanding with a cinema operator towards building the $7 million complex.
While all Queanbeyan councilors expressed their support for a cinema, Cr Jamie Cregan, who voted against the proposal, said entering into a 20-year loan agreement prior to seeing a business plan
and feasibility study for the project was reckless.
"It would be financially irresponsible to proceed without due diligence being carried out,” Cr Cregan said.
"There is no way anyone can claim it will be nil cost after year six as at the moment we don’t have any financial information, a business plan or a business model from the proponent."
Cr Overall said ‘‘game playing’’ by a few councillors was obstrucing progress after five years of investigations and nine months of ‘‘detailed negotiations’’.
He said the proposal had been thoroughly scrutinised through three workshops with councillors and senior staff, market studies and analysis as well as 20-year financial and funding plans that had been ‘‘worked and reworked’’.
“If I sound frustrated, I am – so much time and energy to bring another priority of the community’s vision to fruition to be wasted in a few moments by game playing by some [not all] and being disguised as a lack of due diligence,” Cr Overall said.
“I can assure residents that the cinema proposal ticked all the boxes as a low risk, no-cost-to-ratepayers project, and it is a travesty that it has not proceeded to the next stage, which is a memorandum of understanding that would allow things to move forward to the next level.”
The memorandum was needed to secure the cinema operator’s confidence in Queanbeyan.
"It’s been 18 years since we last had a cinema proposal in Queanbeyan,’’ he said.
"Should we not support this it will be many years, if at all, until we see a cinema complex in Queanbeyan."
Cr Overall said a Facebook page had been created to provide the community with the facts.