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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Group says theatre fight not over
Forum Theatre, Billingham
The Forum was opened in 1967 by the Queen
Campaigners fighting to save a Teesside theatre say their work is not over - despite a decision to demolish it.

The Forum, in Billingham, is to be demolished to make way for a supermarket development.

Stockton Borough Council says the site must be sold off to help fund another leisure complex nearby.

Councillors took the decision on Saturday after a visit to the theatre site, which was opened by the Queen in October 1967.

But Kevin Bowler, from the Save our Theatre group said: "There is most definitely a way forward.

'Stupid plan'

"We think the way forward at the moment is to contact Government Office North East with all the objections.

"We will be looking at ways to inform our supporters of how to take the next step against this stupid plan."

Once the Forum site is sold, cash will be used to help fund a planned Gateway complex in nearby John Whitehead Park.

The new centre will house an ice rink, swimming pool, fitness centre, library and health facilities.

Alex Cunningham, cabinet member for cultural services on Stockton Borough Council, said the move was the best way forward to regenerate the town.

'World leader'

He said: "I know folk have been very upset, but we are trying to encourage developers to incorporate the theatre in new projects.

"It's important we give Billingham the best.

"It used to be a world leader as far as leisure was concerned and I want to see it happen again."

When the site was opened in 1967, weekly visitor numbers topped 25,000 and recent figures showed the site still attracted about 20,000 people a week.

The Forum's ice arena is home to the Billingham Eagles Ice Hockey Club and Billingham Ice Skating Club.

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