Express & Star

Dozen operators come forward to run Wolverhampton's Light House Cinema

A dozen operators have come froward to run a much-loved independent cinema in Wolverhampton which closed last year, it has been revealed.

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The Light House Cinema

The Light House Cinema, based at the Chubb Buildings, closed in November after more than 30 years of trading with its debt levels "unsustainable".

It led to Wolverhampton Council, as landlord, joining forces with property specialists Bruton Knowles in a bid to kick-start the venue at Fryer Street.

And now it has emerged a dozen operators have come forward as councillors rowed over whether Wolverhampton Council supports the arts sector.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, deputy leader of the Labour-led authority, said they took back the keys on February 9 with marketing starting days later.

But opposition Conservative councillor Simon Bennett accused the authority of "washing their hands of any responsibility" when it came to saving the venue last year, after comments from the chief about pledging support for the new operators.

He told the council meeting on Wednesday: "This Labour council is not interested in the arts and culture, so Labour is not working for Wolverhampton. How can any operator have any confidence in you as a landlord that they will be supported when required considering the lack of transparency on the current state of play and with the previous operators?"

But Councillor Simkins, who raised the council had invested £330,000 into the Light House, said: "We were the biggest financial backer of the previous administration. What I can state in record time we've got 12 interested parties to get this back into use and that has got to be good for our city, we're bringing other assets to our city. We take culture really seriously."

He cited the British Art Show 9 as well as the Wolverhampton Literature Festival which have been backed by the authority.

The council previously said it is prepared to discuss flexible lease terms and will work with the successful party to attract additional investment and grant support.

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