York evening finds screen blank for London petition

Town crier fell on deaf ears

The Evening Press in York has complained about being snubbed by Odeon Cinemas after it delivered a petition to the company’s head office.

The Newsquest daily has been leading a campaign to save York’s only remaining town-centre cinema from closure. The listed Art Deco building has been earmarked for demolition to make way for a housing development.

Reporter Matthew Woodcock, along with York MP Hugh Bayley and town crier John Redpath, travelled to London to hand a 13,600-signature petition to Odeon head office.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get further than the front door of group headquarters off Leicester Square. They were asked to post the petition through the letter box because there was no one “in authority” to receive it.

After refusing to do so someone came down and agreed to pass on the petition, along with a letter from Evening Press editor Kevin Booth.

The York town crier then rang his bell and announced the Evening Press campaign message to Leicester Square. The Evening Press said it had contacted Odeon Cinemas prior to the trip to London only to be told that it was not company policy to accept petitions by hand.

Booth said: “We are hugely disappointed that the Odeon chose to snub the Evening Press, the views of more than 13,600 readers and the city’s MP.

“The number of signatures gathered during this tremendously successful campaign is a strong indicator of the depth of feeling for this institution.

“All we were asking was for the Odeon management to spare a few moments to acknowledge the concern of our readers for such an important facility in our city.”

A spokesman for Odeon Cinemas said: “Odeon has endeavoured to co-operate with the Evening Press at every stage of its campaign to keep the cinema open. Odeon’s regional manager, Ian McDonald, met with local council representatives and the local MP Hugh Bayley to discuss this issue, and the outcome of this meeting was detailed in a comprehensive statement released to the paper.

“Following this, the paper requested that they could personally hand its petition over to the CEO or another senior executive at the head office in London.

“Odeon explained that it would not put anyone forward to accept the petition personally, but would be happy to accept it by post.

“Having made this clear, Odeon head office was not expecting the Evening Press and York officials to make a personal visit, and hence no on

By Dominic Ponsford

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