Row over cinema ticket prices

A DECISION to increase some ticket prices at an Ipswich cinema has today seen a row break out amongst councillors.

By HELEN JOHNS

helen.johns@eveningstar.co.uk>

A DECISION to increase some ticket prices at an Ipswich cinema has today seen a row break out amongst councillors.

Labour councillors have hit out at the decision to increase prices at the Ipswich Film Theatre, saying it will make visiting too expensive.

But a conservative councillor has defended the move, saying Ipswich's tax payers have been subsidising the cinema for too long.

A decision by the borough council's executive has resulted in some prices at the cinema rising by as much as £1.70.

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The cost of children's tickets has risen from £1.40 to £1.90 and while adults used to be able to choose between a £6 seat or £5.50 seat, all adult tickets will now cost £6.

The biggest rise is likely to affect pensioners. An afternoon concessionary rate of £2.30 has now been scrapped and the main concessionary rate has been raised to £4 - meaning all concessionary tickets will now cost £4.

Labour leisure spokesman John Mowles called the decision “two-faced” and said: “Why are the most expensive seats not being put up in price when the cheapest are taking a huge hit? The children's matinees are very popular and I'm sure hard-pressed parents will be asking why they have to fork out to subside the posh seats.

“I can't believe that the pensioners are losing their afternoon concession - hard on the heels of the closure of the Age Concern tea rooms.”

But Judy Terry, leisure spokeswoman for the Conservatives defended the move - saying Ipswich tax payers already subsidise every ticket by 64 per cent and the cinema is not well used.

“Twenty five per cent of the audience comes from outside the area and it is the council tax payers that pay for the Film Theatre,” she said.

“The council tax payers are subsidising every single ticket bought and I don't think that is fair on the tax payer and the people who enjoy going to the Film Theatre should pay a little bit more.”

But it is the lack of people who use the Film Theatre that is the biggest funding problem, she added.

“People just don't use the cinema.

“The normal matinees at the moment you get about six people there, on a regular basis there is just one person in there and it is costing a fortune.

“We need to develop new young audiences, at the moment the average age is over 50. We have to look at a way in which we can invest in the theatre and develop it and at the moment we tackling an investment in audiences.”

Mrs Terry added that plans are under way to introduce more specialist films to the theatre to encourage film buffs in. A partnership with Suffolk College to screen films is aimed at boosting the numbers of people interested in films other than the current Hollywood blockbusters.

“We want to introduce people to foreign films and Bollywood and other films that don't have a wide ranging audience,” said Mrs Terry. “We hope these prices don't put people off, especially if they are interested in specialist films.”

What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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