DARLINGTON Council leader Bill Dixon has expressed bitter disappointment over the Arts Council’s decision not to award funding to the town’s defunct arts centre.

It was hoped that a £2m grant would kick-start a plan to revive the centre which closed last July and Mr Dixon said it was “puzzling” as to why the project missed out on funding.

He said: “Darlington Council has been informed that the Project Vane bid to the Arts Council England (ACE) for the development of the Arts Centre site has been unsuccessful – a decision all involved in the programme are bitterly disappointed with.

“Project Vane 's funding application was based on three quarters private sector funding, plus ACE funding, the project needs no ongoing public sector subsidy and is the type of innovative scheme encouraged by ACE as a potential future model for the arts.

“It is therefore puzzling to learn that the bid has been unsuccessful.

“The Council will continue to work with Project Vane to examine the next steps for the project.

"In terms of the Arts Centre as a building, this remains in Council ownership with current arrangements remaining in place.

“We will keep you informed of developments as we learn more."