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Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Tynedale: Queen’s Hall comes under fire for being ‘Hexham-centric’

PRUDHOE councillors turned party poopers as Hexham’s Queen’s Hall celebrated its 30th anniversary as an arts centre.

For the Queen’s Hall charity was described as “a mysterious organisation which has nothing to do with Prudhoe or the rest of Tynedale” by Mayor of Prudhoe Coun. Tony Reid when Northumberland County Council’s west area committee met in the building last week.

The attack came after councillors had been regaled with the successes of the Queen’s Hall over the past 30 years by arts director Geof Keys.

The first salvo from the east was fired by Prudhoe’s Coun. Mrs Eileen Burt, who said the Queen’s Hall arts provision was very “Hexham-centric.”

She said: “Very few people come here from Prudhoe, and you have set up a film club which is in direct competition with the one run at the Fuse centre in Prudhoe.

“It’s about time the arts people in this area started talking to each other.”

Then Coun. Reid joined the attack with all guns blazing.

He said: “The feeling is we always get a bad deal in Prudhoe.

“Hexham gets an Abbey, and we get a parish church, and if we want to see a professional show, we have to trek across to Hexham.

“We feel things are not fair; we are not getting our fair share. Prudhoe feels detached from the whole arts scene.”

He said he was speaking as a former chairman of the Queen’s Hall management committee, when it was run jointly by the county council and Tynedale Council before becoming an independent body.

He said: “Queen’s Hall Arts is seen as mysterious organisation by many people in Prudhoe and the rest of Tynedale, who pay the same amount of council tax as people living in Hexham.

“I don’t think enough is done to raise sights above Hexham.”

Committee chairman Coun. Richard Dodd said that, because of their geographic location, it was only natural that people in Prudhoe and Ponteland should look to Newcastle rather than Hexham for arts.

After the meeting, Mr Keys said that many people from the Prudhoe area made use of the Queen’s Hall facilities in many ways.