Hebden Royd Town Council in West Yorkshire has told the organisers of a local burlesque festival that it cannot hold a show in the Hebden Bridge Picture House. The committee decided that it was demeaning to women, so it wasn't suitable for the venue.
The decision has prompted a local row. And it's not the first time a decision which made sense to a council has seemed odder to the outside world.
The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival wanted to use the venue, which is run by the council, because it was the biggest in town. However, the committee said: "many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality". It added that it wasn't censoring the festival, because they could hold the show elsewhere in the town.
One of the organisers, whose stage name is Heidi Bang Tidy, told the Hebden Bridge Times: "Burlesque is a legal and legitimate art form. We object to being told that the people of Hebden Bridge are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to purchase a ticket for a Burlesque show." She added that the festival, which takes place next May, will also feature an all-male show.
ReactionLocal council leader, Janet Battye, criticised the ban, and a local row has erupted. However, reaction on Twitter has been mixed. Some have reacted against the ban, and one commented: "@HebdenBrTimes not personally a fan of burlesque but last time I looked, mainstream movies weren't doing a great deal for the sisterhood". Others supported the ban, with one saying: "burlesque, Page 3, it's all the same. Does nothing for women's status in society. Strange how they're viewed as different.".
U-turn?It's not the only time a council has made a decision which has bemused the outside world. We reported in March about the Devon council which decided to ban apostrophes in street names because they were confusing. After a national outcry, the council reversed their decision.
In May it was Radstock Council raising eyebrows, after a debate over which flags to buy to fly over the council hall. One councillor spoke out against the St George's Cross because it had been used during the Crusades and therefore could offend Muslims, and it decided on reflection to buy a Union Flag. Again, after press coverage generated local and national anger, the council relented and bought a St George's Cross.
Last year it was the turn of Argyll and Bute Council, which banned a primary school pupil from posting pictures of her school dinners on her blog, Never Seconds. However, the resulting media attention forced them to reverse their decision, and now the 9-year-old travels the world talking about school dinners.
It seems, therefore, that unusual decisions by councils are not all that out of the ordinary. However, their tendency to make a u-turn when the press gets involved may mean there's some hope for the burlesque fans of Hebden Bridge.
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