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Campaign group’s anger at ban from Victoria Hall, Settle
10:00am Friday 30th August 2013 in News
A campaigning group has been branded “contentious” and barred from setting up a stall in Victoria Hall, Settle, to champion its cause.
FOUR – Friends of Upper Ribblesdale – were told they could not have space on Tuesday because the group broke the Market Charter and Conditions of Trade, which relate to groups which are “political, religious or contentious”.
So instead of manning the stall, members went out on the streets with protest petitions and collected more than 100 signatures in under an hour.
They say the ban has shocked and angered them and claim they are being “deliberately gagged” by Settle Town Council.
FOUR secretary Betsy Bell said: “It feels like we’re living in a dictatorship.
“We’re being deliberately gagged because certain members of the town council don’t like what we represent.
“They are denying us freedom of expression and they are stifling an open debate on the regeneration of the community.”
The group was initially given permission to set up a stall by the market superintendent, Christina Davies, but the following day, Mrs Bell received an e-mail from town council clerk, Rebecca Hill, reversing the approval.
She wrote:“The council's policy is that they will not allow any stalls that are political, religious or contentious. Unfortunately, Christina was not fully aware of the nature of your group and that it would be considered contentious by some. We are therefore unable to accede to your request to stand.”
She said the request would be passed on the the town council which was due to meet on Monday to consider the matter.
Mrs Bell said it was not the first time the group had been gagged.
Chairman Pat Harding was repeatedly denied permission to address the town council at a meeting in the spring, despite having addressed the parish councils of Langcliffe, Giggleswick and Horton.
Mrs Bell added: “We want to know on what grounds are we contentious, bearing in mind our objectives which are to preserve our environment, the unique landscape and enhancement our economic future?
“On what grounds is the Settle Regeneration Study, the corner stone of our group and mainstay of our stall, contentious? It has a foreword by our MP, Julian Smith.”.
The Craven Herald approached Ms Hill with a request to explain the “contentious” claim but was told she could not comment and the matter would be considered by the town council on Monday.
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