Cinema's future 'secured for a decade' after investment amid energy crisis

michael hansell

Michael Hansell, owner of East Coast Cinema in Kirkley - Credit: Mick Howes

The future of a town's cinema has been secured after a major investment to tackle soaring energy costs.

In May, East Coast Cinema owner Michael Hansell wrote to Waveney MP Peter Aldous pleading for help for small businesses after seeing the Kirkley cinema's energy bill more than double overnight.

Mr Hansell had called for a windfall tax on energy companies, which was introduced later that month after a government u-turn on the proposal, the concept of which had been rejected by Conservative MPs, including Mr Aldous.

Now, the cinema has announced £50,000 of investment over the next six months which, they believe, in conjunction with the recent return to pre-pandemic levels of business, will secure the future of the cinema for at least another decade.

In September, work will begin on a £25,000 upgrade to the cinema's heating and air conditioning system which will greatly reduce energy bills, while other improvements, such as internal lighting, will follow.

Mr Hansell said: "While the windfall tax does help our staff and customers in their personal energy consumption costs, it doesn’t help small businesses.

"We were on our own to find a solution.

“A renegotiated energy contract reduced our predicted cost rises from £36,000 to £24,000.

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"This will now be reduced significantly again with these massive changes to our consumption. We will still be paying more, but it will now be much more manageable within normal business."

Mr Hansell added the changes would allow the cinema to continue smaller showings for visitors with specific needs.

He said: “One of my passion projects at the cinema is to make films accessible to as many people as possible.

"I put on lots of private shows for reasons of accessibility, autism or the need for subtitles.

"Often these shows could be for just one or two people.

"Currently the energy increases mean that when I play a movie for less than four people, it costs us money.

"These changes will help level this back off again.”