RESIDENTS of England’s most remote village claim they are being forced out of their own community centre by the headteacher of the village school.

The Kielder community and Kielder Primary School have shared the building at Butteryhaugh since it was built in 1963.

But school headmistress Fay Hartland has now declared the property belongs solely to the school.

In an open letter to parents and residents, Mrs Hartland said: “The building that was constructed in 1963 consisted of a school building and a community wing. The community wing was converted to a youth hostel and this was then demolished.

“The part of the building that remains is owned by the county council and is a school, not a community building.”

Despite that, she said the hall remained available for use by the community – but only to those which completed a letting form, paid a minimum £12 per hour fee and followed a set of rules which banned use of the stage and other facilities.

Villagers strongly dispute Mrs Hartland’s version of events, and feelings are running so high that a formal complaint has been lodged at County Hall.

The chairman of the Kielder Community Association, Barry Noble, said: “When the three-storey building was offloaded to the YHA, a room up the corridor was designated as a community room and is on NCC plans and worked for over 20 years and was used by the groups who used the three-storey element.

“This worked in harmony with both school and community until this was taken away from the villagers by Mrs Hartland.”

However, Northumberland County Council has backed the school and Mrs Hartland.

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “There has been no change in the actual building ownership.

“The hall which is being discussed by the community representative is the school hall, not a community hall.

“The school is making the school hall available for use by the community, where this is possible around school activities, and is entitled to recover reasonable costs for this use.”

But Mr Noble added: “It’s a question of the amount that has been charged. Falstone Village Hall, Greenhaugh School, and even Wentworth Leisure Centre are cheaper. It’s a sad situation for the community.”

There is no other hall in Kielder suitable for community use.

The matter will be discussed at an open meeting in Kielder on April 28. Mrs Hartland was contacted for comment.