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Government Minister Praises Teesdale Village Halls


Teesdale Village Halls have been singled out for praise by a government minister.

Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight highlighted the Teesdale Village Halls Consortium as an excellent model that should be taken up by others around the country.

Speaking at the National Village Halls Forum Conference and Annual General Meeting, Mr Knight encouraged delegates to foster a network of information and support for solving the issues village halls are facing today.

He said: "Now is the time to explore our vision for the future role of the village hall in the 21st century. Many village halls are exploring some new and exciting ways in which to capture the imagination of their communities and are working hard to develop their potential for the future. Their foresight and examples of best practice are something that many more can learn from."

"Village halls have played an important part in the life of the community for a very long time. However, the really successful village halls have not rested on their laurels. They have moved forward from their initial inception in the inter-war years and have evolved to meet the needs of their local communities, addressing their health, social and sports needs."

A spokesman for Defra explained why Mr Knight was particularly impressed by Teesdale's village halls.

He said: "In an impressive move, Teesdale Village Halls, all 29 of them, have formed a consortium to promote themselves as conference and meeting venues under a Leader Plus project. This has led to increased use of the halls for new activities, as well as traditional ones, all of which are helping them to achieve their goal of sustainability."

Recently the success of this consortium was highlighted when magician Paul Daniels undertook a tour of the dale's halls.

Mr Knight said: "These modern and successful village halls would not have achieved such results if local people and village hall management committees had not had the vision, the commitment and the enthusiasm to make it a success."