HIGHLAND dancers say they have been forced out of their home town by council red tape banning them from running a tuck shop for kids and parents.

Jacqueline Deeney, who organises monthly competitions, says she has been told that she cannot hire Port Glasgow Town Hall without taking out the venue's private catering.

The dance teacher, who is the organiser for the Renfrewshire Festivals Highland dancing competition, says all she wants to do is run a tuck shop.

Jacqueline, who runs Deeney School of Dance, said: "It seems a bit silly, we just want to sell crisps, sweets and juice.

"People are going to be there all day.

"We asked if that non-negotiable to hire the hall and we were told we had to use ICE catering as they have the contract for it."

The monthly competitions started around 10 years ago in Bishopton Community Centre and were then based at Boglestone Community Centre for the last seven years, but were forced to move when the soft play area was installed last June.

Since then Jacqueline has been searching for a suitable alternative to accommodate around 200 dancers and has been forced to hold the competition in Inchinnan Church hall while she tries to cut through local red tape.

She says initially she was delighted when Inverclyde Leisure bosses offered to rent her the town hall at a discounted rate - before being hit by the bombshell about catering.

She aded: "We only want to sell sweetie bags for 10p, crisps and teas and coffees for the parents.

"All the money goes towards running the event, the judges' costs, medals and trophies."

Jacqueline says there are a lot of dancers from Inverclyde who are now having to make the trip to Renfrewshire to compete.

She said: "There's so many dancers from this area who travel every weekend to take part in competitions. It was nice for them to perform on their doorstep.

"Parents and grandparents enjoyed going along to see them dance and they would bring more business to the retail park and local shops."

Council bosses claim they weren't told about the tuck shop and say they will contact organisers to try and find a solution.

A spokesperson for Inverclyde Leisure and Inverclyde Council said: "As you know there has been massive investment in the facilities at Boglestone Community Centre and unfortunately we were no longer able to accommodate the Highland Dance competitions.

"We were in contact with the organiser in October last year with a view to trying to find alternate accommodation. The group was offered a reduced rate for Port Glasgow Town Hall, which the organiser accepted.

"Due to the nature of our contract with our catering supplier, we couldn’t give permission for the group to supply their own tea and coffee. the sale of sweets, crisps and drinks wasn’t raised with us and the organisers haven’t been in touch with me since our email exchanges in October.

"It is normal practice for virtually every venue in the country to display signs which say customers can only consume food and drinks bought on the premises. This isn’t an unreasonable or unusual approach.

"However, we will be getting back in touch with them to try and reach a positive resolution.”