CLAIMS that councillors “stonewalled” an attempt to mark International Women’s Day in Ledbury have been denied by the chairman of the town council, Nina Shields.

Cllr Shields said the proposed stall on Ledbury’s Charter Market this Saturday (March 9) was being planned by the Labour Party and she added: “Our policy is not to hire to political parties because of the need to remain neutral.”

But former town councillor, Maria Mackness, chairman of the Ledbury and District Labour Party, is not happy with the response she received after addressing last week’s full town council meeting.

She said: “I was told that it wouldn’t be discussed as it wasn’t related to an item on the agenda. When I asked how and when it could be discussed I was told it was a matter for the democratic working party. When I then asked when the meeting was going to be held or going ahead I didn’t get an answer. So I came away completely stonewalled.”

Mrs Mackness said the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), one day after the official date of March 8, could have involved other groups as well.

She said: “I’m happy to join with other organisations or political parties who want to celebrate IWD with us. Isn’t this a democratic right?”

Mrs Mackness said she had “regularly emailed the chair of the democratic working Group about the stall since last December”, but had no replies.

Cllr Shields said: “Full council asked that it be reviewed by the democratic working party and a meeting was scheduled for December. The meeting was cancelled due to illness. Since then the chairman of the working party has not been able to rearrange a date due to workload.”

Cllr Shields said a pavement could be used for the stall, not the market area.

She said: “In Ledbury we have areas of wide pavements in the High Street, and these are happily used by other political organisations – without a hire charge.

“All this has been explained to Mrs Mackness outside council meetings. I am at a loss to know what she means by ‘stonewalled’.”