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South Bank branded "squalid and seedy"

The South Bank Centre was described by MPs yesterday as a "squalid, seedy and menacing environment".

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said it was "unacceptable" that artistic events of the highest quality were "condemned" to take place in such an environment.

In its report on the failure of successive plans to redevelop the South Bank, the influential committee, chaired by Gerald Kaufman, noted that the first stage of restoration of the Royal Festival Hall would soon take place, and called for a proper restoration of the whole complex. The committee said: "It is essential that at very long last decisive action must be taken to prevent this saga of failed plans and masterplans on the South Bank limping on any further."

Lord Hollick, chairman of the South Bank Centre, said: "We welcome the very positive support from the select committee for the South Bank masterplan, its endorsement for the need for substantial public investment from the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund."

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