A WIDESPREAD belief that the future of Queens Hall is hanging in the balance has been firmly rejected by Halton Borough Council.
And the hall, which once played host to the likes of The Beatles, Rick Wake-man and the Stone Roses, could still be in use for years to come as an entertainment and leisure venue.
The council this week revealed that behind-the-scenes talks are taking place with a number of developers on how the building can be given a new lease of life for future generations.
And the claim that one option being considered is to convert the building into a cinema will be music to the ears of Widnesians who have long complained that the town lacks such a facility.
News of the discussions was revealed following a story in the Weekly News which focused on a gig event dubbed Closing Time which was being promoted as the last event at the Queens Hall.
The view that the venue's days are numbered emerged after a range of organisations, including drama and performing arts groups, Widnes Horticultural Society and the Widnes Model Railway Club, were told last year that bookings for events were not being taken beyond April this year.
And a petition signed by hundreds of people demanding that the hall stays open was also sent to the council but seemed at the time to have failed in its aim of keeping the venue open beyond May.
But the council has now assured residents that although Queens Hall will be closing in May, the building will be out of action only temporarily while the proposals for the venue are finalised.
And concrete details of what lies in store will be revealed to the Weekly News over the coming months.
Councillor Tony McDermott, leader of Halton council, said: 'I am very well aware of the affection that this building holds with the people of Widnes and we are working extremely hard to make sure the building can continue to play a significant role in the future.
'Don't write the building of just yet - watch this space.'
A council spokeswoman said: 'Halton council wants to reassure members of the public that no final decision has been made on the future of the venue.
'The council has been in discussion with developers about the future of the Queens Hall for several months and a number of possibilities exist, including a substantial refurbishment and the possibility of providing a cinema along with other leisure facilities.
'However, at the moment these plans are not finalised and it will be necessary to secure the building in the intervening period.
'The council is looking to finalise plans in the next few months.'