Eye cinema screening is cancelled due to traveller concerns

Eye Community Centre has had to postpone the launch of its new cinema. A trailer blocking the vehicu

Eye Community Centre has had to postpone the launch of its new cinema. A trailer blocking the vehicular access to the community centre. - Credit: Archant

The threat of travellers moving on to land in a Suffolk town has led to the postponement of a community cinema at the 11th hour.

The Cinema at Eye, which is housed at the community centre in Magdalen Street, was supposed to celebrate a new high-quality digital projector with a screening of Disney’s remake of The Jungle Book last night.

However, the launch of the new equipment, which has been funded by the British Film Institute’s Neighbourhood Cinema Fund at a cost of more than £4,000, was cancelled after the entrances to the community centre were blocked by trailers, effectively closing it.

It followed a meeting held by the community centre committee, after hearing an encampment at Eye Airfield could be making its way to the playing fields next to the community centre.

Ian Barber, trustee of both the Eye playing area and community centre committees, said: “We decided we wouldn’t have any events in the centre that would have more than a handful of people. For something like the film night we could have up to 150 people in.”

Mr Barber said the closure was made as if something major was to happen on the site and they could not safely evacuate the area, they could be liable for prosecution.

Mr Barber added: “It’s annoying for us because we’re running the centre for the benefit of the community but ultimately it’s the community that suffers. Events they may be attending, or even running, have to be cancelled.

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“Also the travellers – their community is disrupted because they have to keep moving and groups are split up while they look for places to go.

“If travellers had a permanent site to go to they would not have to keep moving.”

Andrew Brown, from the cinema group, said: “People who had tickets for Friday’s event can keep them for another screening or have their tickets refunded.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Police are aware of a traveller encampment on Eye airfield and are currently working with the landowner, Mid Suffolk District Council and partner agencies under agreed protocols around unauthorised encampments. Welfare checks have been carried out with travellers co-ordinated by the traveller liaison officer.

“Police have visited the site to speak to the travellers and will continue to monitor the situation.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We have done an extensive consultation that all public sector leaders engaged with and promoted. No clear sites were put forward by members of the public. The county council is working with boroughs and districts to see what options there might be going forward.”