Crunch talks will take place this week to determine the future of the cinema in Abingdon.

The Abbey Cinema on Abbey Close risks closure on June 30 if a new lease cannot be agreed with the council.

The cinema’s lease was first granted in 2018 and has since been extended twice with the current one expiring in September 2023.

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Town councillors have been summoned for a ‘special meeting’ on Wednesday, May 24 to discuss the issue.

The cinema is owned by Sue Wiper and her husband Ian.

Oxford Mail:

The pair have had difficulties in the past negotiating the lease with the council and a meeting was previously held to discuss the issue in August last year.  

Ms Wiper said: “The Abbey Cinema is now in crisis.

“The cinema employs numerous local people and provides work experience opportunities for John Mason School and Abingdon & Witney College as well as supporting numerous community groups and charities.

“Abingdon Town Council is legally obligated in the lease to use its best endeavours to extend the lease.

“Despite expressing support for the cinema and its intention to do so however, three successive councils have failed to deliver on its commitment and have provided only successive short lease extensions which do not enable us to make the necessary financial investment to improve the accessibility, appearance and utility of the building for community use and neighbours.”

The Abbey Cinema was first opened in 2018, after the 1960s extension to Abingdon’s Guildhall was transformed.

Abbey Hall was fitted with a 9m projection screen and surround sound equipment.

MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran has spoken out in favour of maintaining the cinema in the town.

She said: “I, along with everyone at Abingdon Town Council, am committed to having a cinema in Abingdon.

“I know how much residents value this service, and I understand the frustration with the process so far.

“I want to reassure residents that I am listening to their concerns. I also want to make sure that local residents are getting good value for each taxpayer pound.

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“I hope the town council meeting on Wednesday helps move things forward. Councillors have given me their assurance that they are equally as committed to keeping a cinema in the town and I wish them well in that endeavour.

Oxford Mail:

“A cinema is an important addition to Abingdon’s already vibrant town centre, and I absolutely understand the strength of feeling in the town.”

Councillor Nathan Ley has also stressed the town council’s commitment to the cinema.

He said: “My family love trips to The Abbey Cinema. My parents even came all the way from Southampton for the important one-off screening of Finite: The Climate Of Change, which I think this tells you all you need to know about how valuable independent cinemas are.

“I am sure that the town council is also committed to keeping a cinema in Abingdon.

“For now, I think we would be best off leaving them to have the discussions they need to have, and hopefully we’ll see a productive outcome.”

Abingdon Town Council were contacted for a statement but have so far not responded.