£3 MILLION CINEMA EXPANSION PLAN THREATENS SENIOR CITIZENS' CLUB
A £3 million expansion project is planned for the Paragon Cinema in Grantham – but senior citizens who meet next door say they are against it.
A 3 million expansion project is planned for the Paragon Cinema in Grantham – but senior citizens who meet next door say they are against it.New owners Reel Cinemas hope to extend the cinema to accommodate three more screens and totally revamp the whole complex on St Catherine's Road by summer 2008.
Part of the extension could be built on the site of Grantham and District Senior Citizens' Centre but its members say they will not give up their club without a fight.
Ninety-year-old Dolly Johnson, who has run the club for 17-and-a-half years, said: "We have 50 members who pay 3.50 a year and for that they get three free outings a year and a free Christmas lunch.
"The building was given to the old people of Grantham and we would hate to see it go. We would fight against it if we got enough support because we have nowhere else to meet."
The club, which was built in 1937, is open three to four days a week for bingo, whist drives and rummage sales and Mrs Johnson still does all the cleaning herself.
The land is owned by South Kesteven District Council and could be sold for development for tens of thousands of pounds.
Mrs Johnson says she would prefer to keep the club as it is but if the cinema owners could offer them a place to meet she would consider it.
Paragon owner Kalaish Suri said he would be delighted to offer members a venue.
He said: "Of course we would accommodate them and we already plan to extend our own senior citizens' club. They could use our cafe and we could arrange for some entertainment as well."
The cinema expansion plan is based on Reel Cinema's city centre model and could create up to 20 jobs. The interior will have a bright colour scheme, the front kiosk will be expanded and there will be pre-booking ticket machines and a new cafe.
Mr Suri said: "We plan to give Grantham a cinema which belongs to the 21st Century. We have already increased the number of screenings here but we want to do much more to move forward.
"With the strength of the cinema and the new car park next door this site will be a strong contender for attracting other leisure facilities and national names to Grantham."
Mr Suri plans to introduce a kids' club and the cinema will be open from 11am seven days a week in the summer holidays and cater for children's parties.
He plans to develop the senior citizens' club after the introduction of special screenings on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons proved popular.
Reel Cinemas, which owns nine cinemas around the country and is building two more – in Newark and Andover - will submit plans for the expansion in the next month.
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