A TOP youth choir has been locked out of their rehearsal rooms following a rent dispute with Kirklees Council.
When the True Colours youth gospel choir arrived for practice at the Hudawi Cultural Centre at Great Northern Street, they found the door to their room locked.
They were told by a caretaker that they could no longer use the centre.
Another group allowed them to use their rehearsal room for the evening but, from now on, the choir have no home to go to.
All their equipment is locked in the room, which they rent from Kirklees Council's community support service for £6,000 a year.
Natalie Pinnock-Hamilton, who runs the choir, said it was a crisis.
She said: "We have some big events coming up and need to rehearse.
"We are a small group and don't get regular funding. We have to apply each year.
"This year we have not been able to pay our rent yet. I told the council we were waiting for funding and they said wait a few weeks.
"But then I got a message on my phone from the caretaker, telling me they had changed the locks on the room and changed the alarm code so I can't open up on Saturday mornings.
"No officials have spoken or written to me. I am unhappy about how it has been handled."
Mrs Pinnock-Hamilton - who was involved in the founding of the centre - believes that the council should be doing more to help community groups.
She said: "The rates are extortionate to start with. It is supposed to be a community building, but not many people use it because they cannot afford to.
"We are trying to put something back into the community."
Mrs Pinnock-Hamilton said it was not just the choir which would be affected.
True Colours stage other activities - including summer fun schemes - at the centre to divert young people from anti-social activities.
She said: "We are keeping these children off the streets, otherwise they might be someplace getting into trouble.
"I can't understand why Kirklees Council aren't supporting us and helping us."
A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said the rooms were hired for True Colours under the name of Education 2000.
She said Education 2000 had not paid its invoice for hiring rooms for the period December, 2005, to March, 2006.
She said it was also in arrears with this year's rent.
She added: "The organisation has made no attempt to pay outstanding amounts, despite being contacted on a number of occasions.
"In an attempt to prevent the outstanding amount from escalating further, the decision has been taken to prevent the organisation from using the facility until it has identified funds to clear its account."