South Shields dance school fears for its future as home is under threat

Young people from Valerie Shepherd's Dance Academy are devastated the centre may be at risk of closure.
Young people from Valerie Shepherd's Dance Academy are devastated the centre may be at risk of closure.

A dance teacher says she has been left “devastated” over the threat that a community centre where she runs her school could be at risk of closure.

Valerie Shepherd has been based at All Saints Community Association in Stanley Street, South Shields, for the past 20 years, teaching youngsters from the age of two up to 18 as well as adults.

I just can’t put into words how I feel, it’s not just for me but it’s for the children.

Valerie Shepherd

However as the council carries out a review into the viability of the venues, Mrs Shepherd says it could throw the future of her school into doubt.

Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of cash- strapped South Tyneside Council, community centres as part of a money-saving exercise.

He has told officers to identify those which could survive without a subsidy, those which could be run by other organisations and those which are not viable.

Those that council officers believe will not survive on their own could be closed, with the council’s cabinet making the decision on the future of each community centre.

Mrs Shepherd said: “If this centre goes, it is going to be a huge miss in the area. Everyone in the group is not only angry but devastated.

“I just really can’t put into words how I feel. It’s not just about me, it’s for the children. I have a very close bond with the children and they’d be devastated if it was to close.”

She added: “The staff at the centre are great, they are pleasant and helpful ,and you couldn’t get a more dedicated guy running it.

“If the centre closes, it’s going to be an end of an era. We are all just trying to stay positive.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The council continues its programme of remodelling services and buildings to meet the needs of local communities’

“Due to unprecedented central government cuts, we must ensure that services are delivered in the most efficient and effective way and provide value for money.

“The budget process for 2016/17 and beyond is currently under way, and no decisions have yet been taken.”

Residents have until Friday to have their say on the budget by visiting