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Drive-in cinema project for resort branded ‘waste of money’

PUBLISHED: 16:30 12 July 2020

Pop Up Pictures were part of the partnership to bring drive-in cinema nights to the Norfolk Showground this summer Picture: Robert Powell/Music Art Study

Pop Up Pictures were part of the partnership to bring drive-in cinema nights to the Norfolk Showground this summer Picture: Robert Powell/Music Art Study

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Investigations are to take place to see if Felixstowe can stage a drive-in cinema this summer.

The event would be held at the Grove car park, off the Beatrice Avenue roundabout, which would be able to accommodate 60 cars with social distancing – with the event costing £5,500 to £6,000 for the showing of three films in one day.

Most town councillors were in favour and felt it should be a free event while others thought there would need to be a charge as it meant spending a large amount of taxpayers’ money to benefit very few people.

Former mayor Nick Barber’s verdict was “a complete waste of money”.

Councillor Andy Smith said it was “an interesting idea” but needed to be able to accommodate more vehicles and felt a bigger site was needed.

Councillor Steve Gallant said the council could seek help from groups such as Felixstowe Carnival or Felixstowe Book Festival to help organise the event. He said: “I think it’s a good idea and anything that makes people feel good and welcomes them out into the fresh air would be positive.”

Councillor Seamus Bennett said: “The number of people that would benefit would be quite low. I think it’s innovative but I am not sure about it being free. I think a charge of some sort would be appropriate given the cost.”

The council meeting was informed that a similar event in the resort’s twin town of Wesel over two days saw a £20 charge for each car.

Similar events have been held elsewhere in East Anglia. Today (July 12) see the conclusion of a four-day drive-in film fest at the Norfolk Showground organised in partnership with Pop Up Pictures, run by Danny Banthorpe and Andrew Bunn, who is also behind Laugh in the Park comedy festival in Norwich, and they have hosted screenings across East Anglia for the past five years.

Tickets were per car, instead of per person, and passengers listen to the film by tuning into a radio frequency or using a headset provided.

Felixstowe council’s finance and governance committee will explore the idea on July 15.

At present the booking of East Suffolk Council land – such as car parks – for events is suspended though this is being reviewed to take account of current government guidance.

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