Closure of Wakefield and Castleford Cineworld branches 'a worrying sign of things to come', MP warns
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett has warned that the closure of Wakefield and Castleford's Cineworld branches is 'a worrying sign of things to come this winter'.
The cinema chain has today confirmed plans to temporarily close the branches as it faces "an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape" in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entertainment operator said it would be temporarily suspending operations at its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas from Thursday, October 8, as a lack of new releases was making it difficult to convince customers to return to cinemas.
It is understood that around 5,500 jobs are at risk in the UK as a result of the closures.
And Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett has now warned that the closures could be the start of a "tidal wave of job losses" in the district, as he demands greater economic support for workers.
Mr Trickett said: "The government needs to get a grip immediately to stop a tidal wave of job losses in our area.
"The Chancellor’s latest measures are not enough to save jobs in those sectors worst hit by Coronavirus, many of which operate in Wakefield.
"A sector specific approach is needed to make sure that the 14,000 people on furlough in our area are not unemployed this time next month.”
The Cineworld closures follow a particularly tough year for staff at the Wakefield branch of the chain, which closed for several weeks following the Speedibake fire in February, and then remained closed for more than four months during lockdown.
It is believed that around 14,000 people in Wakefield are currently furloughed from their jobs, as part of a government scheme which is due to end later this month.
Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, commented: "This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets - including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.
"We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was, Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen."
Cineworld has branches at Wakefield Retail Park and Castleford's Xscape Yorkshire, as well as White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds.