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Historic Scotland hits back in cinemas row

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Historic Scotland (HS) has hit back at claims that it has wholly failed to defend several significant cinemas north of the border.

The group - which fulfils the role of English Heritage in Scotland - has dismissed accusations from the Cinema Theatres Association (CTA) that it has been 'criminally negligent' over protecting the historic buildings.

Late last month the CTA claimed that Historic Scotland had failed in its duty to protect a raft of Grade B-listed gems such as the Art Deco Capitol cinema in Aberdeen and Glasgow's Kingsway and Ascot cinemas.

These had been ruined, according to CTA casework chair Richard Gray, due to HS' 'unwillingness to prevent [their] wholesale demolition and destruction'.

Gray said: 'This is tantamount to criminal negligence.'

But HS has finally responded. In an official statement issued on Friday, a spokeswoman said it had 'long recognised' the significance of cinemas in Scotland.

The organisation, she insisted, 'had made considerable efforts to assist local authorities in re-using this valuable part of our national heritage and there have been many successful conversions and re-uses.

'The conservation of our cinema heritage relies on recognising the economic value and wonderful potential of regeneration that these buildings represent.

'However, neither Historic Scotland nor the local authorities, who are charged with making planning and listed building consent decisions about cinema buildings, can require operators to continue showing films commercially,' the spokeswoman added.

by Ed Dorrell

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