ACTIVISTS who campaigned against the destruction of their town theatre have welcomed a £24m plan to refurbish it.

Members of the Billingham Action Team at Billingham, near Stockton, are delighted about outline plans to refurbish The Forum complex in the town.

The Forum, built 39 years ago, holds the theatre but also houses other leisure and retail facilities.

Stockton Borough Council had wanted to demolish the entire complex, including the theatre, as part of plans called The Gateway Project to build a new town centre.

However, those plans were ditched when the Forum theatre became a listed building last year.

As The Northern Echo revealed yesterday, Stockton Council has unveiled a £9.1m plan for basic repairs to the Forum Complex along with a £24m plan to turn The Forum complex into a major attraction.

Billingham Action Team (Bat) met on Friday to discuss the proposals and unanimously agreed to welcome the outline plans and urge the people of Billingham to become fully involved in consultations with the council.

Frank Crosby, chairman of Bat, who plans to stand for Stockton Council in elections in May, said: "Costs of £9m to as high as £24m for a 25-year life span are at present only figures.

"What is more important is the money available and what we get for the money.

"Consultations have started but it is early days. We ask that all interested parties show patience, a determination to call for the full facts now and then to make their wishes known. This will be an opportunity for all the people of Billingham and we urge them not to ignore it."