Cinema to re-open by Xmas after arson

THE manager of a cinema that has been badly damaged in a suspected arson attack has vowed to reopen the site by Christmas.

Elliot Furniss

THE manager of a cinema that has been badly damaged in a suspected arson attack has vowed to reopen the site by Christmas.

David Marsh has overseen a turnaround in the fortunes of the Regal Theatre in Stowmarket since he took over two years ago, but that progress is hanging in the balance after the attraction was damaged by fire last night.

Mr Marsh, who had only locked up the cinema for the night about half-an-hour before the emergency services were called, said he was hopeful that the effects of the fire, which saw the screen and sound system damaged beyond repair, would not take too long to reverse.

He said: “Last year was the best for the cinema for six or seven years and so far this year was proving even better - we were looking at record-breaking attendances.

“But we have had so many kind words from people phoning in this morning.

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“It's a much-loved building and the people who work here, for them it isn't a job. We had staff here in tears last night; they do it for the love of film and the place.

“We really don't know how long it will be at the moment, but we will re-open.”

Shortly after fire crews arrived on the scene it became clear that there was a risk of a gas explosion and nearby residents were evacuated from their homes.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze was being treated as suspicious and the matter would be passed on to the police for further investigation.

A police spokesman said CCTV was now being studied and the scene had been examined by scenes of crime officers.

- For more on this story see tomorrow's paper.