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The Regent campaigners plan Halloween protest outside 'iconic yet sadly crumbling' cinema in Deal


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‘Mad as hell’ cinema campaigners are planning a Halloween protest outside The Regent in Deal in a fresh bid to prompt action from its owners.

Reopen the Regent members say they want to end the ‘horror’ having waited a decade for owners James Wallace and Mark Digweed to develop the site into a two-screen community attraction.

The Halloween protest will be held outside The Regent in Deal
The Halloween protest will be held outside The Regent in Deal

Dressed in masks and capes, an expected crowd of about 100 people plan to brandish banners and carry out a mass ‘howl at the moon’, from 6pm tomorrow (Saturday).

A spokesman said: “It’s time to end this horror.

“Please join us outside the iconic, yet sadly crumbling, Regent cinema on Deal seafront.

“Locals will be there to protest about the perilous state of the building and lack of action by the owners.

“In 2011, Dover District Council sold this beautiful building to local businessmen James Wallace and Mark Digweed for just £385,000, despite marketing it at over double this price.

Concerns have been raised that the Deal seafront building is falling into disrepair
Concerns have been raised that the Deal seafront building is falling into disrepair

“Since then the owners have obfuscated while letting the building rot.

“Deal has a population of over 35,000 and no cinema and Deal residents are mad as hell.”

Mr Wallace and Mr Digweed bought the freehold in 2011 and were granted planning permission to reopen the cinema in July 2019.

They spoke of a 12-month renovation before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

In December 2020, campaigners warned of serious decay, with water seeping into it and collapsed roofing.

A previous protest held by Reopen the Regent in 2018 Picture: Tony Nandi
A previous protest held by Reopen the Regent in 2018 Picture: Tony Nandi
Campaigners say the former bingo hall is now in a 'dire state'
Campaigners say the former bingo hall is now in a 'dire state'

They also made claims that pigeons had invaded the disused building and addicts have been there taking drugs.

At the time, Dover District Council said regular inspections to review the safety and appearance of the building continued, and no formal action was needed, although this would be kept under review.

But after 10 months no progress appears to have been made.

A spokesman for Reopen the Regent added: “As far as we know, the building is still in a dire state and nothing’s been done since the removal of the false ceiling which is letting rain come right through the roof.

“Covid is just an excuse as building work has continued elsewhere and small, independent cinemas are thriving all over the country.”

Reopen the Regent campaigners claim that pigeons have invaded the disused building
Reopen the Regent campaigners claim that pigeons have invaded the disused building

A spokesman for Dover District Council said: “The council remains aware of the condition of the building and, as advised previously, continues to keep its position on this under review.

“We understand that the effects of the pandemic continue to have repercussions on development plans and proposals but have no further information.”

Mr Wallace and Mr Digweed have not responded to a request for a comment.

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