A COUNCILLOR has suggested that women should not be allowed to play Santa Claus in the latest in a row over a town's Christmas tours.

Campaigners in Newton Aycliffe had fought against proposed changes to the long-running Santa Tours which were threatened after concerns they were illegal and Great Aycliffe Town Council’s insurance would be void if there was an accident.

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However, a victory for people power was later declared when Durham Constabulary’s chief constable, Mike Barton, confirmed the council would not face prosecution over the event if Santa travelled at walking pace on the back of the sleigh.

A meeting last month saw councillors approve the tours with 12 vehicles parading around the town on Christmas Eve in line with the usual tradition.

And residents and local businesses were praised for engaging with the council and volunteering for the tours themselves.

However, the plot has now taken a new turn as some residents have asked for Santa Claus to be played by a female volunteer while one councillor is proposing a motion to ban women from taking on the role.

The question was asked during the council's events sub-committee last week.

One resident asked for women to play the role instead of being Mrs Claus while another resident, who has volunteered to be Santa, asked if his wife could play the part so he could navigate the vehicle with the driver.

The committee agreed to grant the request that the female volunteer play the role of Santa instead of Mrs Claus.

However, Councillor Arun Chandran, has now asked for the minutes of the meeting to be overridden "in that if there is no shortage of male volunteers to act as Santa Claus, we do not permit a female volunteer to perform the role".

He will propose it at the council's recreation committee tomorrow night.

He said: "If the council was unable to have enough male volunteers to act as Santa Claus, I would have no objection to women volunteers undertaking the role, rather than deny the presence of a Santa on a given tour, though I would have to be convinced that the council had given plenty of notice and sought publicly for male volunteers and not left thing to the last minute."


He added: "This has nothing to do with equality. There is no legality issue on this. My understanding is that Santa Claus otherwise called Father Christmas (among other names) is a male role. I have no issue with a Mrs Claus, but that comes down to space in vehicles nothing else.

"I believe that children in particular will be expecting a male Santa, and that it may well reflect badly on the Council if we were to deliberately introduce a form of political correctness just because a Labour Party member turns up at a Events Sub Committee meeting to demand women's rights to be Santa Claus."

"I remain open if members can convince me that the Rotary Club and other Councils are introducing women Santa's everywhere, but they are not, Santa Claus being a man is a long held tradition accepted by the vast majority of society without question and change just for the sake of it, rather than a good reason or necessity is wrong, and will only serve to attract negative publicity.

"I do not believe that the controlling Labour Group nor the Council as a whole, subscribe to political correctness overriding the public's wishes or expectations and that is whom we serve."

Council clerk, Andrew Bailey, said there had been a unanimous vote on the events sub committee to allow the female volunteer to take up the role but that it would still have to be agreed by the recreation committee tomorrow night and a final decision made at a meeting of the full council on December 12.

  • Members of the public are welcome to attend the events sub committee meeting which starts at 7.15pm on Wednesday night in the council offices.