Film fans in Shetland islands, 200 miles north of Aberdeen, were dismayed when pub licensees there tried to stop the building of a new state-of-the-art cinema and music venue - Shetland's last commercial cinema went dark over 25 years ago.
Shetlanders have a strong musical tradition and as well as a cinema, the project envisages a performance area, workshop and rehearsal rooms and a second screen, digital production studio and a common reception and services area.
The plan had the backing of the Shetland Islands Council who had already set aside capital reserves for the £7.15m project and also Scottish Arts Council, who pledged £2.2m towards project costs - the largest single grant they had ever offered for such a project.
"We're squandering millions of pounds we simply can't afford," publican Michael Johnston said at a publict meeting called by the licensees association."We should be happy with what we have. There's nothing wrong at the moment so why try to fix it?"
Publicans had apparently noticed that the plans - openly discussed for over ten years - incorporated a bar. Just before a Council committee was to meet to recommend if the centre should go ahead, Shetland publicans objected. calling a public meeting.
Publicans said the new centre would damage businesses, citing staff lay-offs and licenced entertainment venue closures.
WHERE DO I GO?
The public meeting was well attended, including people who support the project, not least a young man who said he wasn't old enough to visit licenced premises and asked publicans where he could go instead.
Other would-be speakers found they were not able to be heard as they were spoken over by meeting chairman Iain Johnston, who had the benefit of a microphone.
EXCUSE ME PLEASE
Mr Johnston later explained that he had cut off and spoken over people because he thought they had finished speaking. Then, because of the amplification, he could not hear them still speaking as he conducted the meeting.
Nevertheless some cinema and music centre supporters were able to get their views across, only to find the meeting curtailed earlier than expected by the chairman, despite the prescence of some Shetland councillors who had attended to hear public debate on the issues.
GO AHEAD RECOMMENDED
The following morning, the committee of councillors overseeing the project met to give a final recommendation on the plan.They agreed to advise the Shetland Islands Council council that the cinema and music venue should go ahead.
If the comittee had turned down the outline plan, it is likely that the £2.2m of lottery funding offered in might have been lost.
Prevarication about the controversial project at an earlier stage meant £1m from EU funds, which was on offer, was lost to the project.
FORTY PUBS NO CINEMA
Shetland has over forty licenced premises and no cinema, though films are screened monthly at the Garrison Theatre and weekly at a film club.