A SOUTH Tyneside councillor has risen to the top at a social club in the borough.
Coun Lee Hughes was just 14 when he started collecting glasses, filling up crates and stocking shelves at The Neon, on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate.
But – 30 years later – he has just taken over as tenant at the Nairn Street premises, which has been at the hub of estate life for half a century.
The new role is a big challenge as the Independent (Putting People First) representative for the Bede ward is also planning to remain as tenant at the Red Hackle pub, located around the corner from the club and above which he lives.
Coun Hughes, 46, also pledged that his extra workload won’t impact on his Town Hall duties.
The father-of-six and grandfather to four will be calling on the support of both staff and family to share his responsibilities.
He said: “It’s another challenge and I’m looking forward to it. I started off as a bottle boy at the Neon when I was 14 and became a barman there when I was 18.
“From there it was on the Hackle, which I have run for the last eight years.
“I was raised on the Scotch Estate and I know the area and the people who live there really well. Tony Singh owns both the Hackle and the Neon and I’m happy to take over the running of the club, which is doing pretty well these days.
“I am planning to keep getting people through the door.”
The Neon is a venue for live music in its concert hall on both Friday and Sunday nights, and there’s a country and western night every Monday.
Tonight Bilton Hall Boxing Club is staging a fight evening at the venue.
Coun Hughes added: “I am still very committed to serving the people of the Bede ward, that won’t change, despite these extra responsibilities.”