Keighley Gala organisers have been caught in the crossfire of a bitter dispute between Keighley Town Council and its critics.
Members of the Cavetown Council group, which is unhappy with the council’s leadership, say they were prevented from having a stand at Victoria Park on gala day after a councillor put pressure on the gala committee.
The town council hit back, accusing Cavetown of politicising last Sunday’s event, and claiming that some of its members 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 last Friday,” Mr Jackson said. “I was led to believe by one council member that 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Cavetown spokesman Elizabeth Mitchell, said: “Two hours after permission was granted for our stand, it was withdrawn.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.”
Town clerk Miggy Bailey responded: “The town mayor has already stated that the issue of filming would be referred to committee with a resolution brought to our September council 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 which appears to have been targeted by a group which has a record of harassment and bullying against the council."