National Coal Museum responds to Tory dinner criticism

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The National Coal Mining Museum has responded to criticism of it being the venue of an annual Tory party branch dinner.

The museum has faced calls to cancel a booking by the Dewsbury County Conservative Association for a party on March 10 next year.

The event, set to include a drinks reception and dinner, will be two days after the anniversary of miners returning to work following the strike of 1984-5.

Miners were on strike for a full year in a bitter dispute against pit closures with the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher.

Tory deputy chief whip Esther McVey will be guest speaker at the dinner at the former Caphouse Colliery in Overton.

Coal mining museum director Nick Dodd said: “As a publicly and grant-funded national museum, the remit of the National Coal Mining Museum for England is to curate the heritage of this remarkable industry and its communities in an impartial manner.

“The museum’s mission is to keep stories of coal mining alive by collecting and preserving the industry’s rich heritage and it is open to everyone in the community to access and use the galleries, collections, underground tour and wider facilities, as well as taking part in activities and events.

“The museum is also a registered charity and, as such, it is required by the Charity Commission’s rules to maintain political independence.

“In light of the above requirements of its funding and its charity status, the museum is not in a position to be able to refuse or to revoke the function booking in question.”