A LAST ditch attempt to get council bosses to reconsider a £10m cinema and town centre parking plan is to be held behind closed doors.

Conservative councillor Derek Hardman has submitted a call-in request in a bid to get Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ruling Labour group to scrap the Reel Cinema development set to be built on the old Waves Water Fun Centre site.

The development was given final approval by the council’s executive board last week.

Now Cllr Hardman’s request will go before a special call-in committee meeting next week.

But is set to be heard behind closed doors, with the press and public barred from the debate due to commercial sensitivity rules.

The cinema complex will be built by the council but leased to Reel for an initial 20 years.

Council bosses say rental income will cover the development costs and leave the borough owning the building and freehold.

The £6.5m scheme is for a single storey eight-screen cinema incorporating a bar and food and drink units.

It will be complimented by a further £3.5m underground car park and a public realm outdoor space, better linking the Northgate/King George’s Hall/Blackburn College area of town.

Development of the former Waves Water Fun Centre site into the new cinema complete with undercroft parking and two leisure units likely to be a coffee shop and bar/restaurant is expected to be completed by November 2019.

The building will then be handed over to Reel to fit out the new cinema with a planned opening date of Easter 2020.

Cllr Hardman’s submission was supported by his Conservative colleagues, Cllrs Julie Slater, Paul Marrow, Colin Rigby, Jacquie Slater, John Pearson, Neil Slater and Julie Daley.

He said: “The research carried out as part of the reasoning that a cinema would be the best development to generate economic activity is a premise that should be given greater scrutiny.

“The proposal that this cinema will attract new audiences could be open to dispute.

“If this is the case, use of council resources to assist in economic activity could open up the council to claims of potential to affect or distort competition.

“The demographic study figures make deductions that are not based on actual business grounds.

“Finance Council approved provision for a £6.5m scheme but the proposals are now for a £10m scheme - a variation in capital spend of £3.5m.

“All of the financial risk has fallen to the council including a £1.195m contribution to the tenant fit-out costs.

“The tenant appears to have put up no bond as financial security of tenancy.

“The taking out of a loan of this magnitude on what could be classed as speculative reasoning and when the council already has long-term debts of over £125m we consider should be challenged.”

The call-in committee will meet at Blackburn town hall on Wednesday at 6pm.