Leeds & West Yorkshire

Tory dinner at National Mining Museum cancelled

National Coal Mining Museum Image copyright Ian M/Geograph
Image caption The dinner was due to be held two days after the anniversary of the return to work at the end of the miners' strike in 1985

A Conservative Party dinner, criticised as it was to be held at the National Coal Mining Museum, has been cancelled by the venue amid safety concerns.

The Dewsbury Conservative Association rejected claims it was trying to upset ex-miners by using the venue.

The dinner was due to be held on 10 March, two days after the 33rd anniversary of the miners' strike.

The museum said it was cancelled due to a protest planned on the day by The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

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Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers Yorkshire Area, had said the decision to hold the dinner at the Wakefield venue was "insensitive beyond words".

He had said: "There's former miners who work at the museum and who used to work down the pit and who would still work down a productive pit if there was one to work in."

Mark Eastwood, chairman of the Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton Conservative Association, said it was sad to hear the event had been cancelled.

He added: "We chose the mining museum as it is suited our needs in terms of size and location and we wanted to support what is a great community venture."

The National Coal Mining Museum had initially rejected calls to cancel the booking, stating its requirement to maintain political independence meant it could not "refuse or revoke the booking".

However, it said it had since "closely monitored and assessed the ongoing situation" and had accepted a recommendation by the museum's catering firm to cancel.

In a statement, the museum said its overriding responsibility was to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.

"Proposed actions by protesters to organise pickets at the site either at the time of the event or at any point in the intervening period have put this at risk."

In a statement, The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said it was pleased the dinner had been cancelled, adding opposition was "important in highlighting the insensitivity and provocative nature" of holding the dinner at the museum.

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