REDCAR and Cleveland Council says officers are in talks with an “experienced, national cinema operator” to run Redcar’s new Regent cinema.

The local authority is scrambling to find a company to run the facility – which cost £9.6m to build and was funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority –  ahead of the summer season when the town receives most visitors.

In February Louise Anderson, the council’s head of place development and investment, revealed that the tender process had been “reset” after concern about the quality of the bids received from potential operators, but said she had “utmost confidence” that the right firm would be found.

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However a document periodically issued to council scrutiny committee members which provides updates on investments in the borough said the tender process had now been cancelled “due to a single poor submission return”, which has led the local authority to look at other options.

An unwanted problem will be the expense from continuing to maintain the three-storey ‘art deco-style’ cinema building, which features a bar with sea views and a public events space, it having been handed over to the council from BAM Construction earlier this year.

This would include basic costs such as heating, lighting and powering the machinery inside.

The Northern Echo: The now demolished old Regent cinema on Redcar seafront. Picture: REDCAR AND CLEVELAND COUNCILThe now demolished old Regent cinema on Redcar seafront. Picture: REDCAR AND CLEVELAND COUNCIL

Local authorities involved with such large-scale capital projects in the leisure sector almost always immediately seek commercial operators with the necessary expertise to run them and strike long term lease deals freeing them from ongoing costs, while enabling them to share in any potential future profits.

Even when an operator is secured, licensing agreements will have to be made, staff hired and films booked in advance and advertised, all of which could take one or two months, putting the council’s hoped-for timescale to open over the summer in potential doubt.

A council spokesman told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We are excited about the new Regent which boasts state-of-the-art, modern facilities which will serve both visitors and residents for many years to come. 

“Our officers are currently in a dialogue with an experienced, national cinema operator able to run it for the long-term and which already has similar facilities right across the country.”

The council, which had engaged the assistance of a “cinema expert” during the process, said it was unable to reveal more details as commercial negotiations were continuing.

Coatham ward councillor Neil Baldwin previously aired his concern over “Chinese whispers” suggesting there were no interested parties or only “pretend” interested parties in the seafront cinema.

It replaced the old Regent which was declared unsafe due to its deteriorating structure and closed in 2018, later being demolished.

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