Since I became leader of the council in May 2010 I have looked out of my office window and seen the depressing sight of the derelict Ealing cinema site behind the old facade that has been supported by unsightly steel girders. It is even longer since I went to see the James Bond film Casino Royale there.
It has been a matter of intense annoyance and, at times, anger to me and other residents that the new cinema has not been built in all this time and I have made it a bit of a personal crusade to get our cinema back. Of all places, for Ealing to be without a cinema is a shocking and disgraceful irony. It has the longest continually working film studios in the world and proud filming history; including the Ealing comedies and, more recently, Downton Abbey.
We have had a long battle to get our cinema back and there have been many false dawns and twists in the road.
The previous cinema owner left us with a derelict site and the financial crash meant it ended up in the hands of the Irish government, then a private debt company and, finally and frustratingly, sold right back to the original owner again.
So, the council served a compulsory purchase order on the site and wider area in July 2014 and this was confirmed by the Secretary of State in autumn 2015. This put the cinema in the hands of the council’s developer partner Land Securities; before the final twist in the tale of Land Securities selling on to St George this summer.
It has certainly been a convoluted saga; and perhaps worthy of a film epic itself. But I now finally believe the end is in sight and we will finally see a glorious new Ealing Cinema rising out of the ground – beginning in December of this year. The happy ending we were all hoping for.