There will be big excitement tonight if Justin Ribbons, chief executive of Empire Cinemas, attends the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting tonight at 7pm in the Queen’s Hall. The venue has been changed to accommodate the large numbers of the public that are expected to show up.
At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting the cabinet gave officers permission to proceed with a compulsory purchase (CPO) of the cinema site in the event that building work does not proceed. Typically of Cllr Mahfouz he is trying to get on the right side of this issue and put his opponents on the wrong side. In reality this is a totally non-political issues and politicians of all sides, council officers and the public have all been working hard on this issue since the cinema was knocked down in November 2008.
Whatever Mahfouz or anyone says the council was only ever in a position to talk about a CPO until Empire’s planning permission runs out in November 2011. Property case law in this country is such that a CPO would not have got anywhere in the courts until the planning permission had ran out and it would be unusual if a property owner did not go to law when served a CPO in these circumstances. So nothing was ever going to happen or will happen until either Empire starts work of its own accord or the day Empire’s planning permission runs out in November of this year.
The only person who seems to have got to meet Empire’s elusive chief exec face-to-face is Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Angie Bray, see here. The rest of us will be interested to hear what he has to say this evening.