Save Hobson Street Cinema – consultation on 19 Apr 2023 at The Guildhall

TL/DR: It’s from 2pm-7pm on the St Edward’s Church side of the Guildhall (not the Petty Cury side) – go along and let the developers and consultants know what you think. (Even if you are in favour!)

The details are at

Back in 2021 I wrote about the options the developers made available – see here

Let’s be crystal clear: The option of maintaining the old cinema for community use was one of the options that went out to consultation.

Below: Option 2 – you can read the appraisal here

Above: “Cinema retained for leisure/community use” they said.

Back in 2016 I asked Cambridge City Council’s West-Central Area Committee about the future of the site.

Above – Cllr Tim Bick (Lib-Dems, Market) responded.

The minutes of the following meeting record his findings as:

“Cllr Bick gave feedback on the position of Hobson Street cinema. There are no current planning applications or pre applications. It is categorised as a leisure facility and the Council does not have any power to bring it back into use. A compulsory purchase order would be very complex. The current owners took ownership 2 years ago and have plans to bring it back into use. A clearer indication of their intention will be available in 6-8 weeks; they intend to engage and consult with the community on their plans.”

Item 17/4/WAC – minutes of West Central Area Committee – Thursday, 9th March, 2017 7.00 pm

I am grateful to Cllr Bick for following this up.

The above is a textbook example of:

  • a local resident going to a local council meeting, raising an issue
  • a local ward councillor from the ward where the issue has arisen responding – and agreeing to look further into it
  • said local councillor asking officers for more information – which was provided to the local ward councillor
  • The local ward councillor reporting back, and having the item put on public record

Irrespective of the content, this demonstrates one of the lines of accountability in local government

i.e. Local resident tables a public question to a councillor, councillor seeks information from a permanent council officer with policy responsibility for the issue concerned, and the councillor reports back to the following public meeting with the information from the council officer concerned.

That is why most (sensible) questions invite councillors and council officers to state what the existing situation is as far as the council (as an institution) is concerned. Furthermore, the substance of the question itself is short and to the point – leaving any extensive preamble (for which I have been known to give on more than a few occasions!) for any video record.

Further clarification was provided in July 2017 – one where I begged and pleaded for local residents in the centre of town to go along to.

“The current owner of the site was committed to bringing the building back into use. An asset Manager had been appointed and various enquiries and suggestions were under consideration for the future use of the building.”

Item 17/18/WAC of West Central Area Committee – Tuesday, 18th July, 2017 7.00 pm

Again I am grateful to Cllr Bick for putting this information on the public record.

“So…why did it take ***four years*** before new proposals came forward?”

That is a question you can put to the developers and their representatives either at the event, or at the links at

You can read Cllr Sam Davies’ latest blogpost on how the present model of relying on developer contributions to pay for community facilities is failing our city. This is something we’ve both been following for a number of years – as have a growing number of you. For example the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Association (find details of your local one through them), Cambridge Past Present & Future, and some of the campaigning members of the Cambridge CVS (have a browse of their member orgs).

The lack of funding and powers that Cambridge City has is one of the reasons why my name is on the ballot paper in Queen Edith’s ward for the Cambridge City Council elections in 2023 – see In line with recommendations from the House of Commons Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, I’m calling for an overhaul of local government – in particular in Cambridge & Cambridgeshire. (The recommendations were sadly rejected by Conservative Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove – resulting in a split within the party as that committee is chaired by a Conservative MP and has a majority of its MPs being Conservatives).

This is why after so long campaigning and reporting on issues such as these in and around Cambridge, I am of the view that local government in our city and county is utterly dysfunctional and broken. I asked local party candidates to discuss this in the Cambridge City Council elections in 2022 (see my blogpost in Jan 2022 here – it’s not like I didn’t give them notice or the background historical information!) Therefore, as I learnt in 2014 sometimes the only way to get things raised in higher places is to get your name on the ballot paper to get the responses from the political parties on public record.

You can ask questions of the candidates where you live – just type in your postcode to

…and judge their responses accordingly.

Alternatively, you can do the same with your existing councillors and MPs at

Queen Edith’s residents can listen to the responses live from their candidates at the hustings on 25 April 2023 at St John the Evangelist Church Hall. I think it starts at 7pm but check for updates. (They’ve not published the timings yet!)

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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