Dramatic climbdown in village row over miners' welfare hall name-change

Climbdown: Parish councillors have changed their mindsClimbdown: Parish councillors have changed their minds
Climbdown: Parish councillors have changed their minds
COUNCILLORS have made a dramatic u-turn by scrapping plans to rename a village’s miners’ welfare hall but have caused further anger by doing so in a meeting which residents were not aware of.

Great Houghton Parish Council stirred up a row with villagers over plans to add the name of Dorothy Higginbottom - a long-serving councillor who died in 2022 - to the name of the hall.

Some were unhappy about the impact of that on the legacy of the hall, which was provided to improve the lives of miners in the 1920s and is now operated by the parish council.

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Although councillors said they would listen to the views of residents at a recent meeting, it later emerged the name had already been changed to Dorothy Higginbottom Miners’ Welfare Hall, sparking further fury and the resignation of three parish councillors.

Controversy: The miners' welfare hall will keep its nameControversy: The miners' welfare hall will keep its name
Controversy: The miners' welfare hall will keep its name

Chairwoman Dorothy Coates, the daughter of Dorothy Higginbottom, said they had gone because of a Facebook campaign against those involved, an explanation disputed by the former councillors themselves.

Some have cited the way the situation was handled as their reason for going, rather than any online dialogue.

The remaining councillors met on Saturday in a meeting which was unannounced and unexpected, with a curt statement later issued by clerk Martin Fensome, which said: “At a special meeting of the parish council held on Saturday June 1, as a result of the views of the residents that attended the previous meeting and those of the chair and the chair’s family, members agreed that the Welfare Hall will remain known as Great Houghton Miners’ Welfare Hall and the Royal Mail informed of this.

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“The chair and members of the parish council again apologise for any misunderstanding. The parish council understand the upset this matter has caused and trust that the matter is now closed.”

The chairwoman said last week that the name-change already in place with Royal Mail had been down to Mr Fensome, rather than councillors.

Residents have taken to social media to vent their views over the u-turn, with one stating: “Once again not giving residents the right to ask and just done it underhand.”

Others have questioned whether minutes from the meeting will be published.

It is now unclear if anything will be done to mark Cllr Higginbottom’s contribution to the village.

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