Miners' leader warns big legal costs could threaten future of Miners' Gala

Pittington Brass Band performing at last year's Durham Miners' gala

Pittington Brass Band performing at last year's Durham Miners' gala

First published in News
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE cost of a failed legal claim could place the long-term future of the Durham Miners’ Gala in doubt.

The Durham Miners Association, which organises the annual Big Meeting, says it may be unable able to afford future events after landing a £2m bill for costs.

The DMA spent six years fighting unsuccessfully for compensation for former miners who developed crippling osteoarthritis of the knee because of their work.

Although the pits are long gone, the Gala has regained much of its old popularity and is considered the country’s foremost trade union gathering.

The mix of colourful union lodge banners and brass bands from across the North marching through the city and political speeches still attracts thousands of spectators each summer.

DMA general secretary Dave Hopper said staging the Gala cost between £70,000 and £80,000, with around £28,000 spent on the bands.

The Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala, launched in 2012, had brought in £40,000 in its first year, but more was needed.

He said: “We believe that this is a people’s Gala and if we have thousands of people giving a little each year the Gala will be safe.

“Of course, we will be more than happy to receive bigger donations from trade union organisations but it was the people of Durham that saved the Gala and in the long run it will be the people of Durham, and our many well wishers who attend from all over Britain.”

But North Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones, who has heavily criticised the DMA over payments it received from members over previous compensation claims, questioned the situation.

He said the last published accounts for the DMA, in 2007 when it officially deregistered as a union and became a claims handler, showed it had £6.4m.

“I find it remarkable that the DNA should be making these claims,’’ he said.

“They should explain what they have done with this £6.4m.including over £1m in offshore bank accounts, they had in 2007.”

To join the Friends of the Gala visit www.durhamminers.org or write to: Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala, PO Box 6, The Miners’ Hall, Durham DH1 4BB.

Comments (8)

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10:51pm Mon 28 Apr 14

jack114 says...

Well said Kevan Jones
Well said Kevan Jones jack114
  • Score: 6

11:57pm Mon 28 Apr 14

Longbowman666 says...

Isn't it perhaps time for the Gala to change its way a little? After all, there's no pits now, and the political side puts more folks off, and does little to attract people to the region. What do more people come for, in all honesty? Do they come to be inspired by the union and labour speeches, or is it more for the tradition, the fun and the booze-up?

How about dropping all the political stuff, and instead make it a fun celebration of all things Durham, much as Morpeth do with their Gathering each year. They have a theme which changes each time, and the whole town has a good time.

Instead of politics, lets just have something that's fun for all the family, and something that Durham can show off to the country!
Isn't it perhaps time for the Gala to change its way a little? After all, there's no pits now, and the political side puts more folks off, and does little to attract people to the region. What do more people come for, in all honesty? Do they come to be inspired by the union and labour speeches, or is it more for the tradition, the fun and the booze-up? How about dropping all the political stuff, and instead make it a fun celebration of all things Durham, much as Morpeth do with their Gathering each year. They have a theme which changes each time, and the whole town has a good time. Instead of politics, lets just have something that's fun for all the family, and something that Durham can show off to the country! Longbowman666
  • Score: 15

12:07am Tue 29 Apr 14

HH1954 says...

The DMA need to wake up and give their heads a shake.
It's the history and the heritage that have people flocking to the meeting, not the politicians, who quite frankly spout the same rhetoric every year, and no Mr Hopper the pits are not going to re-open, we will never go back to the days of deep coal mining so get used to it.
The DMA need to wake up and give their heads a shake. It's the history and the heritage that have people flocking to the meeting, not the politicians, who quite frankly spout the same rhetoric every year, and no Mr Hopper the pits are not going to re-open, we will never go back to the days of deep coal mining so get used to it. HH1954
  • Score: 7

1:33am Tue 29 Apr 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Failed Strike
Failed Industry
Failed communities brought to their knees by their leadership
Failed Union
Failed compensation claim.

about time the area stopped celebrating failure and started embracing the 21st century - time to bury the gala in its present guise, time to disband the DMA (there are no mines so why does it need to exist), and tim Mr Hopper was put out to pasture.
Failed Strike Failed Industry Failed communities brought to their knees by their leadership Failed Union Failed compensation claim. about time the area stopped celebrating failure and started embracing the 21st century - time to bury the gala in its present guise, time to disband the DMA (there are no mines so why does it need to exist), and tim Mr Hopper was put out to pasture. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 9

7:09am Tue 29 Apr 14

laboursfoe says...

I wonder if any tax was paid on the interest due on the offshore account?
I wonder if any tax was paid on the interest due on the offshore account? laboursfoe
  • Score: 8

9:11am Tue 29 Apr 14

David Lacey says...

The Big Meeting was all about the "leaders" standing on the balcony outside the Royal County Hotel and receiving the adulation of the masses as they passed below. Like royalty these destructive beasts lauded it over the common man whilst plotting more confrontation with the wealth makers of our country. I live in Durham and hope to see the day when this revolting spectacle passes into history - where it belongs.
The Big Meeting was all about the "leaders" standing on the balcony outside the Royal County Hotel and receiving the adulation of the masses as they passed below. Like royalty these destructive beasts lauded it over the common man whilst plotting more confrontation with the wealth makers of our country. I live in Durham and hope to see the day when this revolting spectacle passes into history - where it belongs. David Lacey
  • Score: 1

12:48pm Tue 29 Apr 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Welcome home, David.
How was Prague?
Welcome home, David. How was Prague? Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 0

6:07pm Tue 29 Apr 14

durhamchap says...

Yes Mr Hopper - perhaps in your usual erudite way you could tell us about the NUM finances ?
Yes Mr Hopper - perhaps in your usual erudite way you could tell us about the NUM finances ? durhamchap
  • Score: 1

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