This week I had the pleasure to meet the Group Operations Manager from Picturedrome who own the Palace Cinema. Given some of the local concerns about the future of the cinema, both we at the town council and Picturedrome felt it would be good to chat and let everyone know what is going on with our beloved cinema. One of the first things that came over as soon as we started talking was their passion, not only for cinemas and the whole cinema experience but the Palace Cinema itself. When they took it on, there was no question in their minds that work needed to be done to the building, but like so many old buildings, when they started to remove more recent changes, they found things are a lot worse than they had originally feared, but they were not daunted by this and have been painstakingly restoring it since they took it on. Owning a building like the Palace Cinema, you have to be very aware of the importance it has on the street scene and that’s why some of the early work was to restore the outside. Picturedrome have to date invested substantially on the project, but they are fiercely pragmatic and do not want to take on large levels of debt to complete the project and are therefore funding the work through the revenue generated by their other cinemas. Whilst Pictruedrome will not be drawn on when the work will be completed, one thing we can say, having now looked around the building, is that it will be worth the wait as they have been employing local craftsmen to restore many of the original features bringing it back to the art-deco look it had when it was first built, but will provide the comfort and quality that we all expect from a modern cinema experience. What is new, is the flexibility of the building, as the owners plan not only to show the most Up-To-Date films, using digital technology, but the building will also be able to support live stage shows in its auditorium of more than 500 seats. From the Council’s perspective it is clear that the owners of the building are committed to the project and to the town, be it that we just may have to wait a little longer before we can once again have a full cinema experience in Devizes.
Not much time goes by when I don’t mention anti-social behaviour and whilst I don’t want to take it out of context, because we are still one of the safest towns in the country, there is no room to be complacent. We are working with groups and individuals to tackle youth anti-social behaviour in the Devizes area and we are supporting a chat and information drop-in event in March. The Devizes Corn Exchange will be the venue on Thursday 2 March. From 9.30am-12 noon people can drop in for a coffee and chat with those who are making a difference and working to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town. There will be representatives from a wide cross-section of people working in Devizes including Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police, mentoring teams, youth justice workers, Youth for Christ, and ourselves as well as a chance to see what is covered by the town’s CCTV system. There will also be an opportunity to sign up to attend workshops advising what to do if you see anti-social behaviour or find out how you can provide mentoring support for young people or parents.
I do recognise that sometimes our actions do not always reflect our rhetoric and when it comes to trees, this could not be truer. As part of our town-wide survey of trees over the last few years, you will not be surprised to hear that many trees need work with some needing to be felled for various reasons. One recent example of this, is some trees in Green Lane, where many have been recommended for removal and others are not in good health which is having a significant impact on neighbouring houses. The challenge for us is that they do create good habitats for birds and if you are not living in the lee, they are lovely to look at. Quite rightly people get very passionate about the trees and when we met with some of the residents in the Green Lane area to discuss the work, feelings ran high, nevertheless, the unpopular decision is not always the wrong one therefore with a heavy heart, nine trees will have to be felled before the nesting season starts. We are committed to replacing them and later in the year, we will replant at least nine new ones, to ensure that there is still a good number of trees in the area for future generations.
Town Clerk, Simon Fisher