Someone unhappy with the decision of Hebden Royd Town Council to ban the local Burlesque festival from using the Picture House as a venue has passed me an email sent to Labour members from Cllr Press the chair of the committee. Hilariously in this email she calls on her ‘comrades’ to support the ban, whilst admitting both that they didn’t even have a booking policy in place, and they need to consider the ‘legalities’. She goes onto complain the attacks against the ban have been ‘viscous and abusive’ and that my equal access motion (which opposes censorship by allowing any lawful and properly licensed act to hire this municipal venue) would undermine the Labour group.
Meanwhile the leader of the Labour group on Cadlerdale Council Cllr Tim Swift has refused to answer questions as to whether he supports the ban, despite being asked directly by several members of the public (so much for his decisive leadership). In an ironic twist Calderdale Council’s own Victoria Theater is happy to show ‘Miss Nightingale – The Burlesque musical’. His lack of public support for the loony left wing of his local party is rather telling.
Currently over 600 people have signed the petition opposing the ban. There have been 23 letters of complaint about the ban (none in favor), and whole host of articles with the story getting on Radio 2 the Jeremy Vine show, Channel 5, BBC Radio Leeds etc.
Leaked email –
You will probably have seen the controversy over the Town Council decision not to stage next year’s Burlesque Festival at the Picture House.
In the past week, Labour Town Councillors have come under vicious attack for that decision and faced often abusive and inaccurate allegations on the Hebweb and elsewhere online.
We took our decision not because we are ‘moral guardians’ or because we wanted to ban burlesque per se but because we felt that sexual entertainment of this kind was not appropriate in a community-owned building and because we knew opinion in the community was sharply divided and that for many – particularly women – burlesque represents the sexual objectification of women in an unacceptable way.
The decision was supported not only by Labour councillors but the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Coun Tony Hodgins and Friends Of The Picture House.
Next Wednesday July 10, the issue is on the agenda at the Town Council meeting 7.30pm at the Town Hall. We will face a barrage of lobbying from supporters of the Festival who are supporting a ‘no censorship’ resolution from Lib Dem James Baker which sets out to undermine the Picture House Committee and of course the Labour Group.
We know we have to formulate clear policy in the future and to that end I’ve drafted another item setting out plans for a Sub Committee to work on the licensing and legalities to avoid such difficulties in the future.
For clarity, the Festival has not been ‘banned ‘from Hebden Bridge. It was staged at the Town Hall earlier this year and the Town Hall ( which is not owned by the Town Council) is happy to stage it again.
The Trades Club, which previously staged burlesque-style events, also recently told the Festival the Club was not available after some members complained. So we are not alone.
However, we will need supporters there on Wednesday night to withstand what is likely to be more unpleasant attacks from a very vocal group whose first action on being understandably upset about the decision was not to ask us to reconsider but to go straight to the press and launch a media campaign – which has now ended up on the pages of the Daily Telegraph.
Hope Labour members can be there, and if not, could you write to your Town Councillors.
Susan Press Chair Calder Branch, Chair Picture House Committee