4000 supporters sign petition to save Edinburgh Odeon cinema

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MORE than 4000 residents across the city have signed up to a campaign to save the former Odeon cinema.

Southside Community Council, which is fighting for the historic B-listed building to be restored and reopened as a cinema and arts venue, started the petition about four weeks ago.

A total of 4283 people have put their names to the online and paper versions, both of which were to be handed over to city council leader Jenny Dawe by Edinburgh boxer Alex Arthur at the City Chambers today.

Last month, owner of the Clerk Street cinema - Duddingston House Properties (DHP) - confirmed that the property agents acting on its behalf had been unable to find a buyer following a four-month marketing campaign.

DHP wants to demolish parts of the building and turn it into a hotel, but the plans were put on ice by a Scottish Government reporter after appeals by Historic Scotland, which said the building should be marketed again in the hope of avoiding any demolition.

Three offers were received, all of which were for less than half the independent valuation of 2.93 million.

Chair of Southside Community Council, Hilary McDowell, said she was "absolutely flabbergasted" by the response to the paper and online petition

"We're really delighted," she said. "The paper petition was put in local shops and businesses so that means almost all of those signatures were gathered within half a mile radius of the building. That says something.

"We are fighting on and we know it's going to be potentially a long haul."

The building has lain empty since it closed seven years ago and its condition is deteriorating. The petition calls on the city council to take action to save the building by initiating "urgent compulsory repairs" and setting in motion compulsory purchase proceedings.

Mr Arthur, 32, Edinburgh's former WBO super-featherweight champion, said the response to the petition was "really impressive".

"It just goes to show how high a regard the people of Southside hold the cinema in," he said. "Hopefully it's enough to turn it back into a cinema.

"The cinema has some sentimental value for me - I went on my first date with my wife there when I was 15 to see Donnie Brasco."

Mr Arthur, who lives in Newington, added: "I have got three young boys and a cinema in the area would be brilliant."

The e-petition was accessed via the Southside Community Council website, Facebook and Twitter, while the paper petition could be signed in shops, cafes and pubs in the Southside.