A PETITION protesting against controversial plans to oust Lewes Cinema was presented at the Town Hall this week.
It collected a massive 2,000 signatures – online and paper combined – and calls on Lewes Town Council to reconsider its decision to take over running the operation at the All Saints Centre without consultation.
“This huge level of support from the public shows just how unhappy people are with this unpopular decision,” said Lewes Cinema proprietor Marilu Orman.
“We sincerely hope that the council will do the decent thing and reconsider this unjust decision, and this time take into account all the information and not just one side as they have done so far. Even one councillor has described the decision as ‘unethical’.”
She said that many people have left comments on the petition expressing “disgust and disappointment” that after 10 years of hard work her operation was having its fortnightly screenings taken over by the town council and Lewes Film Club.
Mrs Orman said she and her husband Kevin, who programmes and projects the films, had not been consulted or given an opportunity to put their case. He said after the council’s decision was announced in January: “We were not aware of the discussions taking place behind the scenes and are devastated at the news and dismayed at the underhand way the decision was taken and announced.”
Mrs Orman said this week: “Although Lewes Cinema is not paid by the council in any way, many have been dismayed to discover that under the new arrangements Lewes Film Club will in fact be paid a fee to run future screenings in place of our current popular service.
“Bearing in mind the economics of independent cinema this could well end up costing the local taxpayer money. The next full council meeting is on June 14 and we hope that the petition will be discussed at that meeting.”
She added: “Unless the council reconsiders, then our final screenings will be on Sunday, June 24, meaning just two more screening weekends remain.”
A Town Hall spokesman said the petition would be analysed ahead of the council meeting on June 14.
l See letters page 6