City faces £200,000 wages bill for staff after pulling out of cinema

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A COUNCIL may have to pay £200,000 over the next decade for three people that it no longer employs.

The Hull Council workers transferred to Reel Cinema when the council switched venues for screening independent and foreign films from the central library five years ago.

Faced with having to make £48m cuts in the next two years, the council is now terminating its contract with Reel Cinema.

But part of the original deal, set up under the previous Lib Dem administration, means that the former council workers continue on council terms and conditions until 2024.

Coun Terry Geraghty, who holds the leisure portfolio, said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful. The cut off in the lease was coming up and I thought what a great idea to cut our losses and get out and I was hoping to save £98,000 a year. All of a sudden that became £80,000 because there is another £18,000 to find a year for staffing under Tupe (legislation covering the transfer of employees).”

Audiences for screenings at Reel Cinema have shrunk to an average of just nine, he said.

Asked whether ending council support for arthouse cinema, which it has offered since 1969, reflects poorly on the City of Culture 2017, Coun Geraghty suggested its location – on the first floor of the St Stephen’s shopping centre – didn’t help.

He said: “At the end of the day we have to find money for our priorities for the museums and keeping libraries open – these are our priorities in this day and age.”

A council spokesman said: “We have notified Reel that we will be terminating the contract to make savings. We will have to make up the financial gap elsewhere.”

The previous administration had hoped the move would attract a new audience for the art-house cinema.

Officers, however, recommended rejecting the offer made by Reel. At the time they stated: “From a financial perspective and giving forthcoming financial pressures with the budget the logical decision is to cease funding Hull Screen.”