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Storyhouse Chester cancels drive-in cinema screening over 'toilet-gate'

An unusual border issue has arisen in Chester

Storyhouse Chester
© Peter Cook

Lockdown rules and the tier systems have been a tricky situation to navigate for most, but it seems to have got a whole lot more absurd for Chester Storyhouse, thanks to a recent furore over the English-Welsh border.

The venue was all set to produce a drive-in Halloween cinema screening at the Deva Stadium, which, due to its location, happens to fall right on the national border between England and Wales.

Which was all permissible and excusable before this month, but, in the last few weeks, the Welsh Parliament has announced a full "circuit-breaker" lockdown – in effect preventing any Welsh punters from going to drive-in events.

Storyhouse CEO Andrew Bentley explained: "We're doing a Halloween drive-in at Deva Stadium. It turns out the border goes through the middle of the car park but the screen is mostly in Wales. We are already having to refund our customers who live in Wales as cinema is part of their circuit breaker. However, customers who live in England are also to be banned from straying into the wrong bit of the car park to watch the film, and Flintshire police say they will enforce at the event. You'd need to scale a decent-sized fence to get further into Wales, and you don't leave England to get to the Stadium."

Bentley expected that the English spectators would simply be able to stick to the English side of the venue car park, but this is where the situation gets its name – toilet-gate. The loos are on the other side of the car park, in the Welsh area. As the CEO says: "We could try to squeeze the screen into the smaller English side of the car park, but the loos are still in Wales so our customers are going to be caught short, or just caught at the border."

The venue's exec seems to see the funny side of things, but is appealing for anyone who knows of a suitable replacement space just in case the event can be re-arranged: "There obviously was a common-sense accommodation that could have been applied however we can find the humour in these dark days and don't want to make anyone's life harder than it already is. We'll probably need to cancel the event due to restrictions in Wales, which is a shame because of course drive-in is a super safe way to find enjoyment at the moment."

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