Tory dinner at National Coal Mining Museum cancelled over '˜safety'

A celebration dinner by a Tory party branch at the National Coal Mining Museum has been cancelled after protests were threatened.

The company which provides catering services at the museum has said the March 10 event will not go ahead after a string of complaints.

Dewsbury County Conservative Association planned to hold a drinks reception and dinner at the museum two days after the anniversary of the return to work at the end of the 1984-5 miners strike.

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In the 1980s miners went on strike for a year in a dispute over pit closures with the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.

The National Union of Mineworkers accused the Tory association of “rubbing salt in the wounds” of former mining communities by choosing the museum as the venue.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, set up to get to the truth behind an infamous clash between police and miners during the strike, also objected and threatened a mass picket at the museum if the event went ahead.

Yesterday museum bosses said they could not refuse or revoke the booking, which would have seen Tory deputy chief whip Esther McVey appear as guest speaker.

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But Asparagus Green Catering, the museum’s conference and functions contractor, said it decided to cancel the event after assessing the risks involved.

The company said in a statement: “In light of complaints and comments that have been made by telephone, e-mail and social media platforms, the company’s priority must be to safeguard staff, visitors and the museum property, and to avoid potential public order issues.

“In light of the above a decision has been taken by Asparagus Green, with the support of the museum’s board of trustees, to cancel the function booking on March 10.”

Museum bosses said they accepted the recommendation to cancel the booking by Asparagus Green.

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They said: “The over-riding responsibility of the museum at this time is its duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its staff and visitors as well as that of the museum site.

“Proposed actions by protestors 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.”