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New filming law to attract movie-makers to Kent

Filming a scene as Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma. Picture:Chris Davey
Filming a scene as Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma. Picture:Chris Davey

by political editor Paul Francis

It is the curse of film producers and provides plentiful footage for comedy out-take programmes.

But the sight of modern-day cars or buses straying into shot while directors are filming an historical drama could become a thing of the past - at least in Kent.

The county council is set to become the only authority in the UK outside London to have a law enabling it to fully close roads while filming on its streets takes place.

Council chiefs hope the move will provide a boost to its efforts to market and promote the county as a major location to producers, as well as boosting tourism.

The Kent Film Office, which KCC set up in 2006, estimates it could generate even more money from film makers by making road closures easier to achieve.

The council is sponsoring its own private Bill through Parliament giving it the power to close roads while filming takes place.

At present, the council’s powers are limited as road closures cannot be legally enforced - meaning drivers and others passing through a film location must be allowed to if they ask.

At the same time, Kent Police has proved unwilling to help with road closures except where there has been almost no impact on traffic.

Cllr Kevin Lynes, KCC cabinet member for regeneration, said the move could provide a major fillip to the county in its bid to become a major attraction for film-makers.

Cllr Kevin Lynes talks about the potential new filming law

He said: "Film-making has brought £13million into the Kent economy and this is sound business sense. [That] could be a drop in the ocean to what we could do if we make the county more accessible to the creative industries."

He emphasised film-makers would not be given "carte blanche" to close roads whenever they liked. "It will be [agreed] in consultation with members," he said.

The county council is hoping its Bill will reach the statute books in 2011.

Kent is enjoying some success with film-makers. In addition to The Other Boleyn Girl, scenes from Harry Potter series have been filmed here as well as scenes from the BBC series Spooks.

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