At Monday’s Cabinet meeting in Dover I presented a paper for approval from KCC’s Kent Film Office. The film office was launched back in 2006 as a means to encourage film and programme making within the county. Although this might sound quite glamourous, it’s actually about business income. When film crews come to Kent, they spend money – in our pubs, our hotels and our restaurants. Local businesses benefit from this spend, and in just three years, the Kent Film Office has encouraged a spend of £13,000,000 into the Kent economy, as well as a massive legacy from tourism and benefits for young people in training and apprenticeships.
And we’ve had significant success – from the Hairy Bikers, to Coast, to Celebrity Masterchef, all have been filmed in our county. The BBC series “Emma”, “Missing” and ITV’s “Cape Wrath” and “The Darling Buds of May” were produced here. Films such as “The Other Boleyn Girl” with Scarlett Johansson, “Ruby Blue” with Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine’s new movie “Is Anybody Out There” were filmed here, and a wealth of others such as “Harry Potter” and “The Boat That Rocked” feature Kent locations.
Of course, we want to make sure our county is as film-friendly as possible; we certainly have some unbelieveable locations. All over Kent, from the Pantiles and Hever Castle, to Margate and Canterbury we have priceless assets which lend themselves to film sets. But when filming on location, these films crews really need the traffic blocked, so we don’t see Henry VIII standing in front of a Vauxhall Corsa!
At present we don’t really have the legislation to be able to implement formal road closures for filming, whereas New York, Paris and London have all put laws in place. So we’ve commissioned a firm of Parliamentary Agents to progress a draft bill through the system which will enable the County Council, working with other partners such as Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue to close roads temporarily when filming is in progress.
There’s a way to go – although my paper received Cabinet approval on Monday, it still has to be approved in October by full County Council, then it will start its progress through Parliament. But if it succeeds and our Bill passes into law, Kent will become a far more attractive location for filming, and Kent businesses will benefit greatly.