Club denies it discriminates against town

A MORPETH club has hotly denied discrimination against Ashington residents after problems with a potential booking.

Angela Angus had wanted to hire a room at Morpeth Comrades Club for a family reception after her daughter Neveah’s naming ceremony at the Town Hall in August.

But she was shocked when she was told she may not be able to use the venue because the club had previously had problems with people from Ashington and she didn’t know any club members who could vouch for her.

“I had never been there before, but I thought we would have a look at it from recommendations from friends who said it was nice,” she said.

“With my father being in a wheelchair, we thought it would be easier to go across the road from the Town Hall for a family party for my daughter’s naming day.

“The man showed me around the room and I said that it was exactly what I needed, but then he said ‘judging from your accent you must be from Ashington’. I said yes and asked if that was a problem and he said yes because they had people from Ashington before who had wrecked the room.”

Mrs Angus, who works for a Morpeth charity, said she was then asked if she knew any club members who could recommend her, but as she didn’t she was told the club may have a problem accepting her booking.

“I’m not happy about being tarred with the same brush as somebody else,” she said.

“On the night of the day when we would have booked the room there would have been a 21st birthday party. I thought that would probably be of more concern than what we would have done.

“I think it is absolutely disgusting that they treated me that way. All I wanted was to celebrate my daughter’s naming day with my family and friends for a couple of hours.”

Mrs Angus and her husband Glenn, who live in Sycamore Street, have now made arrangements for a party at Longhirst Hall Golf Club.

Morpeth Comrades Club Chairman Dennis Wheadon said the club does not discriminate against anyone and bookings are already in the diary from Ashington residents, as well as from Pegswood, Widdrington, Choppington and Bedlington, including a number of charity events when normal fees have been waived.

But he said it does need to take extra care over bookings from strangers after suffering damage in the past.

“There is definitely no discrimination against people from Ashington,” he said.

“It is mainly a members’ club, but we do let the public in if they want to hire it, although at the end of the day it is still our choice.

“We have had damage in the past so we are a little bit wary of total strangers whereas if a member hires it we have their name and address. If there is damage that member has to go in front of the committee to explain why.

“Obviously, we have a brand new building so we want to look after it.

“It has happened in the past where somebody has broken the hand dryers in the toilets. We had his name and number and spoke to him and he said he would pay for any damage, but we never saw him again.

“That left us about £130 out of pocket.

“I hope nobody has said that we discriminate against Ashington, it may be that it has not been explained properly to the lady. It is not specifically people from Ashington, they could be from Berwick or anywhere, it is just easier if they know a member.”

Mr Wheadon said a way around the problem would be for potential customers to join the club.

He said: “It is sometimes easier to join the club for the sake of about £10.40 and then after that for £2 a year. Then you have the use of the whole club for the rest of the year.”

He added: “I am on the Northumberland Executive for the CIU (Club and Institute Union), which looks after Morpeth, Pegswood, Ashington and Newbiggin, and I am familiar with the chairmen from those clubs. They probably all have the some policy, but slightly different.

“It is just covering your back at the end of the day.”

Morpeth Comrades Club rules state that anyone wishing to book the concert room must be a fully paid up member, and if members book on behalf of someone else details of both parties must be given.