Friday, February 3, 2023

Thurrock Council welcomes progress at old State Cinema site

State 2

Thurrock Council welcomes progress at old State Cinema site

PLANS to develop the site of the old State Cinema on George Street are taking a step forward this month, with remedial works on the building due to begin later in April.

Thurrock Council welcomes this progress towards the development of a modern bar by JD Wetherspoons in the heart of Grays which will create an estimated 60 new jobs.

The development will form a key element to the improvement and regeneration of Grays Town Centre.


  1. Do we really need another Wetherspoons in the country? Or another pub in Grays? Surely it would have been better to have a Thurrock Council-run convention centre that could have brought an injection of much needed business into Thurrock. Keep the cinema equipment in and it could have been the site of a genre film festival once or twice a year that would have benefited the local hotels and restaurants as would any kind of convention. Or perhaps it would have been a good venue for live music or comedy performances in conjunction with the Thameside giving extra capacity for cultural events that would again benefit local hotels, restaurants and other local businesses. Does Grays really need another pub that may well increase alcohol-related violent crime? Seems stupid to me but then I’m just a person who’s worried about my local community.

  2. Yes it does need a Wetherspoons, as they’re the only ones prepared to spend the money. The town centre is currently like a ghost-town at night, what planet is Valen on? This building has been a ruin for years, passed from pillar to post as the cost of renovation escalates, what Valen proposes would end up being a massive burden to Thurrock tax-payers, if the council took it over and converted it into a convention centre it would always be running at a huge loss.

  3. a.small – I live in Grays which is very much on this planet. The council has held up getting renovations to The State for years which is their fault. If turned into a convention centre, The State could have been bringing in business for years and making Grays a vibrant destination town and still could. The reason Grays town centre is a ghost town is because of the lack of business investment and the amount of alcohol-fueled violent crime which a new Wetherspoons will just increase and will only end up driving people out of the town centre rather than attracting them to it.

    As the Tory administration is prepared to uproot local businesses and spend upwards of £10 million on new council offices, I think that you complaining about my suggestion that The State should be bought, renovated and run by TBC is a bit much, don’t you think? A renovated State convention centre could be busy every day from 8am to midnight with conferences, entertainments and conventions all of which would attract businesses. Wetherspoons will drop Grays as soon as it becomes tired of the place or it becomes unprofitable. A TBC-run convention centre would be an on-going money and investment maker.

    Will the renovations be expensive? Of course, they will but that’s the council’s own fault for letting it get into such a state. However, the potential for a successful conference centre would more than outweigh the renovation costs in the long run and the £10 million being wasted on the new council building would be better spent on The State.

  4. It is shameful that such a building as the state cinema has been neglected on such scale. Passed from piller to post for many years has resulted in a rapid and costly deterioration.

    I agree with a.small, if under TBC control it would be a burden to the taxpayer and whatever the proposed use would not regenerate the town. Grays is a hovel and spend a few hours people watching in the town and you can see why – Just not the place for a convention center – would you want to hold a convention in Grays given a choice? In any case the town already has the Thameside Theatre and the Civic Hall.
    Whist Wetherspoons are willing to spend millions in creating a new drinking establishment it is beyond me how they think that will be a success. I commend them for playing a part in saving the fabric of the building, but a thriving pub – I doubt very much. I agree with Valen it will fuel the drinking problems that the town has become well known for now. It will only serve to encourage the migrants and the mindless morons who drink and fight in the High Street still further.

    There’s a reason Grays has become a ghost town pure and simple – Grays is no longer a safe place to be, let along drink.

  5. There would be nothing wrong with TBC renovating and running The State as a convention centre. All that would be required would be for them to hire a business manager to run it on their behalf. A conference centre could literally run 24/7, hired out for events, etc and all the revenue would go back into the conference centre for running costs and, if run on behalf of TBC, any money above the running costs could go into TBC’s coffers for the services that Thurrock’s residents rely on. The State could join up with local hotels that have conference facilities so that larger events could be held and that would encourage businesses to come to Grays for their needs. The more businesses that see Grays as a potential destination for business events, the more they may wish to invest in Thurrock’s and that would be a much better outcome than allowing a single business to take over The State for only as long as it’s profitable for them.

    Yes, Grays has the Thameside and the Civic Hall but neither venue could handle large cultural events. The Thameside is an excellent venue but has limited scope for expansion. The Civic Hall needs to put out seats when a show is being put on and isn’t exactly the nicest looking venue. If The State was turned into a conference centre, it has the advantage of some beautiful interior architecture which only needs some TLC to restore it to its former glory including some exquisite seating and organ. Grays could be the site of large cultural events that play out across the Thameside, the Civic Hall and The State that would bring more people for leisure and business which would be great for Thurrock’s, bringing potentially masses of investment or, at least, revenue.

    If people really want a better future for Thurrock, we need to bring in more businesses and we need to have the facilities businesses need. A Witherspoon’s pub is not what businesses need, events spaces are what they need and are calling out for. And when businesses aren’t using the events spaces, it could be opened up to plays, comedy performances, live music and film festivals which would make Grays one of THE go to places in Essex. The revenue brought in by such a conference centre/events space would allow for further improvements in the area making it a nicer and safer place to come to and the more successful the centre is, the more investment would be made in Thurrock and the more conference centres/events spaces would be needed and could be spread across the whole of Thurrock so that all Thurrock residents would benefit from the prosperity such investment could bring.

    Yes, it would be hard work. Yes, it would be potentially expensive. But the only way to make Thurrock (or anywhere for that matter) better is to think big.

    Of course, Thurrock would also need more police on the streets to make it a safer place but reducing the number of places that sell alcohol would be a good start.

    And, if nothing else, making The State a conference centre/events space would create jobs and, if it had the effect of bringing more investment into Thurrock, would provide more jobs across the area as more businesses decided to locate at least part of their businesses here.

    It’s not rocket science; it’s fundamental common economic sense. Why greet a single business with open arms when you could welcome dozens of them? As I said before, Wetherspoons coming here is dependent on the site’s profitability and they are likely to sell up and move out when the profitability dries up. A conference centre, on the other hand, could start a wave of investment in Grays that is ultimately longer term than Wetherspoons’ investment in a single location. Used for cultural events as well, The State could bring in passing trade from leisure seekers which would improve things for the local businesses that already exist in Grays. Wouldn’t that be a better use of The State and the £10 million Thurrock Council are planning to spend on their new offices?

  6. Well.

    Two household business names and a property developer have owned it and done sod all in real terms. I just get the feeling they are hoping it falls down or burns down so they can use the land for other reasons. I include the council in that too.

    As for the Council owning it. Politicians have a very bad record of running things for numerous reasons.

    Irrespective of who owns it it has to be used for multi purposes if to succeed. It would need to generate multiple revenue streams.

    The long term financial viability is key here.

  7. Catching the Bus – It would be owned by TBC but run on their behalf by a business manager who actually knows what they’re doing therefore it would still technically be run by TBC. Profits over and above what would be needed for running costs would go into the public purse rather than a profiteer’s pocket so local services would benefit from such a publically owned project.

    As I have pointed out, the uses that the venue could be put to would come under the heading of multiple revenue streams so it should have long term financial viability unlike a Wetherspoons pub which, as I have stated before, would cut and run as soon as the venue becomes unprofitable leaving The State to become a ruin again but without the potential for being a multi-use space. A Wetherspoons pub would also not have the potential for multiple revenue streams as you have suggested it should have for long term viability. Basically Grays needs an investment that is guaranteed to be here for the long haul, not an investment that could, potentially, pull up stakes and run off into the sunset at any given time.

    When the South Essex College Thurrock Campus was moved into Grays it created a financial boost for the town’s local businesses. Now, whether or not people feel that the campus being moved to Grays was a good idea, it doesn’t alter the fact that it brought some money into Grays with students who might not have come into Grays spending their money here in the shops. Yes, their potential expenditure is relatively small given that they’re students but imagine if The State became a conference centre that could attract businesses to Grays. Their spending power is much greater than the students of SEC. Imagine the financial injection they could bring. Add to that the potential for film festivals, live music and/or comedy performances, conventions for TV shows, movies, comics, etc. Each event would bring people to Grays who may not otherwise come here and bringing with them money that would not otherwise be spent here. It would be good for Grays and, let’s be optimistic here, if a conference centre in Grays became successful in bringing new businesses into Thurrock to be near a viable conference centre, there would be the potential to build such centres elsewhere in Thurrock potentially bringing in even more businesses and money that is not currently being spent here and that would be good for Thurrock as a whole.

    Yes, there is a potential for the whole idea to go belly up but surely the potential for growing the local economy is worth the risk especially as the Tory-run Thurrock Council is willing to spend £10 million on the vanity project that is the new council office building that does nothing but displace local businesses for the sake of a swanky new building to work in. There is nothing wrong with the current council facilities and the money being spent on the Tory’s vanity project would be better spent bringing in more long-term business investment than polishing the turd that is TBC.

  8. Thanks to my concentration problems I forgot one extra argument for a conference centre at The State. The Wetherspoons pub will bring an estimated total of new 60 jobs to Grays according to the article. Brillian. Well done. A conference centre could also bring in new jobs, perhaps not as many as a Wetherspoons pub to operate the actual conference centre but it could potentially bring in hundreds of new jobs to the whole of Thurrock if Grays can be seen as a viable place for future business investment which having a multiple-use conference space would make it. Grays wouldn’t be able to take on every new business that might be attracted to the area so other areas of Thurrock would benefit as well as new businesses have to find other locations close to Grays to set up. As the injection of new business grows, the need for more conference facilities would mean other Thurrock towns could be the site of further growth. Not every town in Thurrock would want such growth and they could object to retain their current state but the more deprived towns in Thurrock could be made better places to live with the extra investment – more jobs, better facilities for residents. Who could possibly be against giving the more deprived areas of Thurrock a better standard of life? More jobs would also mean more people paying Income Tax so it would be good for the entire country a well. Thurrock might then get the amount of police it needs to keep us all safe and a safer area will potentially bring in more businesses and passing footfall.

    There are many times I have been accused of only ever complaining about stuff because so much stuff is wrong about the UK. This time I have been optimistic and hopeful, offering a vision of hope for a better Thurrock yet people still complain about what I have suggested being a better way forward than bringing yet another pub in Grays that can only bring yet more alcohol-fuelled violent crime. I can’t win, can I?

    From my place of residence, I can see two pubs. In walking distance from my residence, there is another pub. There used to be five pubs in walking distance until The Pullman closed its doors and my GP took over another. Three pubs in walking distance and that’s only if I turn left when leaving my home. Three pubs and that’s only the ones I know about. It also doesn’t include membership clubs. Is there any wonder that there’s so much alcohol-fuelled violent crime these days? The State is about the same distance from Grays Station as the two pubs I can see from my home (just on opposite sides of the tracks) so why can’t people go to the existing pubs? Taking pubs away from the town centre might make it safer to walk there at night and a multi-use event space could make the town centre a vibrant place to visit at night. Grays Town Centre is a ghost town at night because it’s not safe to walk around due to a lack of police and because there’s nothing to do there. A multi-use event space would give people something to do because there are so many events that could be put on there – business events during the day and entertainment events during the night. A Wetherspoons pub will give people something to do in Grays – get pissed and fight. We could do so much better.


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