Well, I’m genuinely excited. Yes, I realise that’s not something you would normally associate with me but I am.

And the reason for my excitement?

The impending opening of the new town centre cinema.

Hats off to Cineworld for getting it up and running before Christmas as well.

I was also delighted to see the Time Square car park is going ‘full time’ to provide adequate parking for those using the cinema and town centre. Credit where it’s due, the cinema does look pretty special and should provide the catalyst to reinvent the town centre.

Yes, I know there are those who would criticise the scheme for being behind schedule and over budget but in reality, what option did Warrington Borough Council have?

It could have stood back and done little to regenerate the town and that would have produced nothing other than a slow decline as witnessed in towns across the country as the nature of the high street changes.

What was needed was a complete change of direction.

For too long, the evening economy in the centre of Warrington was given over to so-called ‘vertical drinking’ and late night bars.

The problem with that was the town centre became a no-go zone for families and the older generation.

This can be traced back to Licensing Act 2003 which did two things.

It took the responsibility for issuing drinks licences away from magistrates and handed it to local authorities and also allowed (theoretically at least) 24 hour drinking.

Personally, I think in the early days following the change, Warrington was a little too liberal in doling out late night licences and didn’t control those licences in quite the same way licensing magistrates used to.

Warrington ended up with an unwelcome reputation for its town centre drinking (and fighting) culture.

It is pretty obvious the council has seen the errors of its ways and, in conjunction with the police, have made a real effort of the past couple of years to clean up the town’s act.

Let’s face it, you are hardly likely to take your kids to see the new Star Wars film on a Friday evening if you think you are going to be confronted by a gang of drunken youths on your way back to the car park.

So my hope is that the council’s plan works. I want the cinema to be a success.

I want it to spark a regeneration that returns Warrington to the state of having a family-friendly town centre, and I want vertical drinking culture to be a thing of the past.

While I’m on the subject of the new cinema, I have one final thought.

Will the ticket pricing structure be reasonable?

For a long time, the Odeon at Westbrook had something of a monopoly but that has changed. If you don’t mind a bit of drive, you can find a cinema charging lower prices. I just hope Cineworld doesn’t price itself out of the market.

  • THE council’s foray into the world of high finance is still proving problematic for some readers.

I refer, of course, to the stake it has taken in Redwood Bank.

I was contacted by Richard Buttrey, a retired accountant who has taken a keen interest in the goings on with Redwood and the council.

According to Mr Buttrey, Warrington’s £30m investment is for a 33 per cent shareholding in Redwood Financial Partners, which doesn’t have a banking licence.

He says Redwood Financial Partners has used the council’s funding to take a 90 per cent shareholding in Redwood Bank Ltd. He adds the council’s shareholding in Redwood Bank is 29.7 per cent not the 33 per cent the council always quotes.

For its part, a council spokesperson says: “The council has invested just under £30m and is a 33 per cent shareholder in Redwood.”

Well, one of them is wrong. I wonder who it is.