Norfolk Euro MP calls for �1.4m of Screen East cash to be re-invested locally

A Norfolk Euro MP has called for more than �1.4m of EU funds handed to Norwich-based Screen East to be re-invested locally after the government won a legal battle to stop administrators pocketing the cash.

The company, which folded last year following the government's decision to scrap the UK Film Council, had been awarded the cash by the East of England Development Agency.

But it was forced to fold last September in the wake of government cuts and amid allegations of financial irregularities which ultimately saw finance director Melvyn Welton jailed for two years after admitting stealing more than �60,000.

Following the collapse, administrators of Screen East, moved to get their hands on the cash which was awarded to the company to boost jobs and investment in the county.

But they dropped their claim following an out of court settlement with the Department for Communities and Local Government, which had launched a legal challenge against the move after arguing that the cash must be returned because it was subject to a trust.

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Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who campaigned for the money to be returned to the East's Euro fund so it could be re-invested in the region, said he was glad that the money was now secure and the cash could be spent again to assist companies across Norfolk to create jobs. 'The film industry in Norfolk and across the region got a real boost from Screen East who lured film productions such as Batman Begins and Atonement to the East so it was desperately sad when, partly due to the government's abolition of the UK Film Council, Screen East collapsed,' he said. 'But with Screen East's collapse there also came a hidden danger that over �1m of taxpayers' money would disappear with it. This is a victory for hardworking Norfolk taxpayers. I am absolutely delighted that our campaign to save the million pounds from the clutches of the faceless administrators succeeded and that taxpayers' money can now be reinvested in Norfolk to create more jobs and businesses.'

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