Stall ban at town RockFest sparks a political row between the Wisbech, March and District Trades Council and Wisbech Town Council
A political row has broken out over a decision by Wisbech Town Council to ban the local trades union council from having a stall at the upcoming RockFest.
Sue Dockett, secretary of the Wisbech, March & District Trades Council, claims the decision by the Conservative-controlled town council is in itself politically driven, adding her application for a stall at this Sunday’s RockFest was originally approved.
However, town clerk Terry Jordan said the council decided to exclude the trades council from having a stall at last week’s festivals committee meeting, chaired by Coun Sam Hoy, when all applications were reviewed.
He said the committee felt the trades council was a political organisation and therefore was not a suitable group to have a stall at the RockFest, which councillors wanted to keep as a ‘fun, non-political’ event.
Coun Hoy said the group's own attack on the town council on social media had proved the point.
However, Ms Dockett admitted their is an historic link with the Labour party but said the trades council is by law non-political and has a stall at the annual March Summer Festival.
“The trades council is not allowed to be political by law and all we do at the March Summer Festival is have a stall where people can come and speak to us to find out about what trade unions are.
“If people want to take away a promotional item such as a pen, trolley fob or key ring that is up to them. We don’t force anyone to come to our stall, we don’t force anyone to speak to us and we don’t even accept donations from people who want to take away one of our items.
“We have existing members also come and ask questions and take away information booklets about such things as the rights of carers to time off, holiday rights, etc. No-one in March has objected to us being at their family festival.
"This could have been an ideal opportunity to explain about unions and how they can help workers in a town where there are concerns about workers' rights, with modern slavery, rogue gangmasters and lots of people on zero-hours contracts."
However, Coun Hoy defended the decision and said: "They emailed asking us to re-consider, and we were seriously thinking about it, but then one of their members posted all over Facebook with comments that were clearly political and attacking the town council, which confirmed we had made the right decision.
"We don't want to make a family event into something political and the trades council is political."