Initially I enquired about the possibility of the NUT, my union, having a stall at our local Gala in Horsforth.
I would like to enquire about booking a stall at Horsforth Gala on Saturday 28th June. The stall will be run by the Leeds Division of the National Union of Teachers and will promote our campaign called Stand Up for Education. This campaign talks directly to parents about the educational work that the NUT carries out to promote and progress education in schools.
We would like to have a 15 x 15 pitch, I believe the cost is £40.
If you can confirm this book and let me know about payment arrangements that would be wonderful.
Nothing contentious there you might think. Neither was there anything untoward by Cllr Collins’s initial response.
Unfortunately the deadline for applications was yesterday. I have to submit everything to Leeds on Monday.
I thought it worth working on her better nature to try and secure a stall.
I didn't realise there was a deadline. Of course if I'd known I would have got the application in time. Given that we're only a day over would it be possible to include us? It's another £40 for the Town Council.
We'd be grateful if you accommodate us.
Now, had Cllr Collins simply reiterated the point that we had missed the deadline I would have graciously accepted that I should get more organised in future. Instead she decided to drop me this little nugget.
It's not really the sort of thing we want to encourage coming to the gala. It's a family Funday really. Even the MP and his volunteers try to keep politics out of things and just have book stall on the day. All the funds they raise then go back to the gala.
So, sorry, the answer is still no.
The event is not run by the Town Council, but by Horsforth volunteers.
Ah, so this was not just a timing issue. The fact that the NUT is a trade union, albeit an unaffiliated trade union appears (in the subtext) to have played a hand in her decision to not allow us a stall. Red rags and bulls became the order of the day as I replied thus.
That's a shame because the tone of your most recent email makes this a political decision. Stuart Andrew is a Tory MP and as such cannot be disassociated from politics. By not allowing the NUT the opportunity to pay to have a Stand Up for Education stall at the gala you are making a value judgement on our union from a political perspective. What the NUT seek to achieve through such stalls is to promote the valuable education work the union carries out, including work on gender equality in the classroom etc. The NUT is always looking at ways of engaging directly with parents and stakeholders in education and if we are denied the opportunity to do so at events such as Horsforth Gala then that can only be regarded as a political decision.
It's a shame that you have chosen to bring politics into this issue.
One might expect that Cllr Collins might have more pressing issues on her political agenda, but never underestimate a Tory in their effort to try and claim the moral high ground and have the past word.
I haven't tried to bring politics into this. I have just been open and honest and haven't tried to hide the fact that Stuart Andrew MP will be there.
If anything your last email reinforces my decision to decline your request. This obviously isn't something you want to do for the community of Horsforth.
Of course I absolutely wanted to speak to parents and others who are interested in education in Horsforth. That was the whole point of the stall. So I thought I’d try the equality root. If Cllr Collins et al do not want the Gala to have a political edge then perhaps ALL politics should be banned; not that the NUT stall was going to be political of course.
Can I suggest, as a Horsforth resident, that Stuart Andrew is not allowed to attend Horsforth Gala in his capacity as an MP but can only attend as a member of the public. Similarly, can I request that there will be no reference to any political parties at all during Horsforth Gala. If the Horsforth Gala is truly a non-political event then that must be demonstrated. You cannot have a bit of politics because the constituency MP happens to be a Tory.
The NUT is a trade union and is not affiliated to any political party. We have members in all Horsforth schools and members who work in other schools but live in Horsforth. The union does a tremendous amount of work promoting education and equality and I'm not sure what part of my last email reinforced your decision to refuse our request for a stall.
You have made it clear that it was your decision to refuse our request and I'm not sure when you were put in the position to make such a decision on behalf of the whole community. I do think you have blown this out of proportion and turned it into a political issue. I hope you take heed of my opening paragraph and if politics is not to be part of the Gala then it's not to be part of the Gala at all.
I think I made a valid point in a succinct manner. Surely Cllr Collins would take my point and realise she had been a little petty in denying the NUT the opportunity to have a stall and engage with the public. Oh no, the esteemed Councillor wanted one last pop.
I'm sorry but I and my friends run the gala as a private individuals. If you want to run an event like this yourself, for the people of Horsforth, please feel free. You can then invite who ever you want.
You will need to get in touch with Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside to book the park and LCC licensing to get permission to hold the event.
OOOOerrrrr (handbag raised). That’s me told then. I did consider applying to hold a separate Gala on the same day in the same park. I thought that Leeds City Council might well go into melt down should such a request fall on their desk so I out my community first and decided to draw my lovely correspondence with Cllr Collins to a close.
That's fine, you run it as private individuals and you allow the Conservative Party to be represented because you are a Conservative and deny a teaching union the opportunity to speak to parents about the valuable equalities work we perform. I'm sure you can see the irony in that.
If you had stuck to your original point, that we were late applying for a pitch, we wouldn't have got into this political aspect.
I think this correspondence has run its course now, so I will not expect any further reply from you. Have a good Gala.
This has felt like a particularly lightweight episode of 70s consumer show That’s Life (We said…then she said…so we said…and she said). Ultimately it is a shame that the NUT were not allowed to have a stall at a local community event. Particularly when teachers are part of the community and as public sector workers we contribute a great deal to our local community. Perhaps next year we should turn up on a flat bed truck and join the procession through the streets.