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Source : 31/03/2000 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

I agree with Northampton South MP Tony Clarke's statement about the former Cannon Cinema in Abington Square, that 'most people's concern is that a prominent building in the town centre remains derelict and underused' (Chronicle and Echo, March 25)

As a member of the borough council control committee, I too am pleased that this building will be refurbished and brought back into use after more than four years.

The footpath and the crossing in front needs to be made more pedestrian friendly. Changes and improvements will also have to be made in line with listed building consent and planning conditions, so it is good that the sale has gone ahead.

However, it very nearly did not happen. Labour members of the development control committee twice turned down officers' recommendations on the planning application.

Liberal Democrats and Conservatives said all along that, judged solely on planning terms and in the interests of getting the property back into use, the Jesus Army's application should go ahead. Labour councillors, however, tried to find various spurious reasons to hide the fact they did not like the applicant.

This was never going to work, but cost the council time and money at appeal and is the reason the building has been disused for longer than it need have been.

Brian Markham, Lib Dem spokesman, Development Control Committee, Northampton Borough Council, Lea Road, Northampton.