• Hertford & Stortford CLP

Labour Sets Up Working Group to Explore Further Education College for Old River Lane

East Herts District Council has decided Bishop’s Stortford needs a new five-screen cinema on the Old River Lane site, instead of the original plans for a 500-seat auditorium.


The Labour Party had many concerns about the original plans for ORL. Support for the scheme was based on a very limited consultation conducted five years ago. EHDC refused to publish the business case for the development, making it impossible to assess whether their plans were viable or not. Continuing in this vein the decision on the revised plans was made at a secret session of the council, on the flimsy basis that the discussion was commercially sensitive.

No-one can really take this plan seriously. Its many flaws are obvious and have been pointed out by your readers, not least that we already have a six-screen cinema in Stortford. The changes in peoples’ cinema-attending and viewing habits are well known. With this in mind we have to wonder what the real plan for this site is?

In the meantime our proposal for this site to be used as a Further Education College has yet to be given any serious consideration by the council. Your report on our proposal last year indicated that Stortford is the largest town in the country without an educational establishment of this kind, and of course the town is set to grow substantially in the coming decade.


An FE college on this site would attract day-time footfall to this area rather than people using an entertainment venue in the evening when many shops are closed. It would also avoid the need to demolish Charrington House – admittedly not the most attractive building in Stortford, but perfectly serviceable from what we can tell.

We have decided to establish a working group to put flesh on the bones of the idea. In the continuing spirit of cross-party cooperation we have invited the other progressive parties on the council, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, to join this group, with a view to a report being published later this year.