Keighley Gala organisers have been caught in the crossfire of a bitter dispute between Keighley Town Council and its critics.
Members of the Cavetown group, which is unhappy with the council’s leadership, say they were prevented from having a stand at the Victoria Park event after a councillor put pressure on the gala committee.
The town council hit back, accusing Cavetown of politicising Sunday’s gala, and that some of its members allegedly verbally abused Keighley’s mayor and town clerk.
Gala chairman Andrew Jackson said: “We were put between a rock and a hard place and dragged into a fight we never wanted to be part of.”
He confirmed the gala committee initially agreed to Cavetown having a stand to promote its petition, which calls on the council to allow filming at its meetings and make its financial records more transparent.
“I was put in a very awkward position on Friday,” Mr Jackson said. “I was led to believe by one council member if we did not withdraw Cavetown’s stand the council would halt its involvement in the gala.”
He said the council had no financial input, but stressed he and his colleagues did not want to risk losing its participation.
Cavetown spokesman Elizabeth Mitchell said: “Two hours after permission was granted for our stand, it was withdrawn.
“We instead took our petition to the people along the procession route and were met by MP Kris Hopkins in the park. He supports our right to film and was proud to be with us collecting signatures.”
Town clerk Miggy Bailey responded: “It’s necessary to mention again the town mayor has already stated the issue of filming will be referred to committee, with a resolution brought to our September meeting.
“Keighley Gala has been, and should remain, an entirely non-political and non-confrontational activity.
“It is, of course, for the gala committee to decide whether or not it wishes to permit a campaigning group to have a stall. But the committee cannot reasonably expect the council to be happy to be involved at an event that appears to have been targeted by a group that has a record of a barrage of harassment against the council.”
Mrs Mitchell said she heard no abuse during the parade.
Mr Hopkins said members of the public at the gala responded enthusiastically to the Cavetown petition, and praised the group’s members for their organisation and commitment.
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