CHE Defies Morecambe – At A Cost

Preparations for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s first annual conference are now well underway. And it promoses to be a genuinely exciting and stimulating weekend. For one thing, it has been extremely well and thoroughly thought out — people started working on it more than six months ago. There will be the usual conference platforms — discussion of major papers (already available), talk-ins, brains trusts and, for the evenings, a heady social programme.

The background to the conference exposes a by-now familiar story of petty hypocrisy and back tracking. This time by Morecambe Corporation. Naturally, CHE half-expected a few rejection slips when letters were written to the well-known conference towns. But Morecambe made it clear that it was willing to have the conference there. “Should you decide to visit our resort you may be assured of our every assistance to make your conference a success”, said a letter to CHE last April. And in July the feeling was still good. “I am sure we can be helpful to you to make your conference a success, as we have the necessary facilities here,” gushed the Corporation.

But then, by September, the climate had changed. Suddenly CHE would not be welcome in Morecambe. The application had been rejected because “the conference would be split into small groups and we have not sufficient accommodation of this type” said the town’s Publicity Committee to the Morecambe Guardian. All this after a five-member delegation from CHE had visited the town and been shown the accommodation and conference facilities and agreed they were fine.

Curious mis-statements follow and the upshot was that CHE decided to hell with Morecambe Corporation. They would have the conference there anyway, but by negotiating directly with the owners of the pier to hire the facilities privately. Which means that CHE is footing a bill which the More-Combe Corporation would have met had any other organisation in the entire world sought the hospitality of this Lancashire seaside resort.

And so the Campaign for Homosexual Equality has been forced into a position of blatant inequality. But, instead of creeping away to find somewhere else, CHE is at least defying Morecambe Corporation – even though the gesture badly strains already heavily committed financial resources.

The conference itself will be the first truly national grassroots conference in the history of the Homophile movement. There have been other gay conferences, but small 5nes, consisting usually of authority figures who have, between them tended to decide what should be done for gays, not without experience and not without interest, but without consultation. At this conference, everyone has an equal voice.

The three main papers for discussion are: The law and the homosexual – which deals in considerable detail with this complex and often imperfectly understood area; the future of the homophile movement in Britain – which is certain to create some healthy disagreement; and a paper on gay life-style which asks a few questions that some people may find, perhaps, contentious.

Great emphasis will be placed on discussing the position of gay women regarding gay organisations – by women themselves, of course – and individual members and groups of CHE are already fielding some good motions for discussion.

The registration fee for the conference is 50p, even though the whole event will be more costly to CHE than it need be, and any members of CHE or the Scottish Minorities Group can attend. It is hoped that as many people as possible will make a special effort to go along to Morecambe. The dates are April 6-7-8.

Roger Baker, Press Officer
Campaign for Homosexual Equality

Springtime in Morecambe – it’s conference time! [Photograph: British Tourist Authority]

It’s On

MANCHESTER: The Campaign tor Homosexual Equality announced it will definitely hold its first annual conference, despite the resort’s playing hard to get.

At a meeting of Morecambe Corporation’s Publicity Committee, the members heard CHE’s case put by the campaign’s chairman, Alan Horsfall.

The committee decided it had no objection to CHE holding its conference in Morecambe in April 1973 by private arrangement with the owners of the Central Pier.

But the committee would not rescind its inaccurate minute that Morecambe did not have the facilities CHE needed even though committee members agreed that the minute was untrue.

The committee would not even recommend that the council rescinded this untrue minute.

A spokesman for CHE told Gay News: “The facilities point was a feeble excuse by which Morecambe Corporation naively hoped originally to hide the fact that members of the council were discriminating against CHE for reasons of pure prejudice.”

Pier Unsafe for Gays

19721001-04MANCHESTER: Last August Weymouth Council told the Campaign for Homosexual Equality it was reversing its Entertainments Committee’s decision to allow them to hold their first conference at the Pavilion, Weymouth. This decision was aided by a great deal of support from the national and local press.

CHE then made what they thought to be definite alternative arrangements to hold the conference, due to take place in April, at More-cambe. They had planned to hold it in the theatre at the end of the pier – and all seemed to be going smoothly. Now, apparently, Morecambe Council are backing out.

A CHE spokesman said: “In order to discourage us the Council has put out a trail of red herrings such as saying the pier is too unsafe for us to hold our conference there. Curiously though they haven’t cancelled the fire brigade conference due to take place in the same building shortly after ours.”

Is it possible the Council are just being kind and imagine that should the building collapse, a group of firemen could rescue themselves from the rubble whereas we poor things couldn’t?

Gay News has not yet spoken to Morecambe Council.

Stop Press

CHE in Morecambe

Confusion reigns over whether CHE will be allowed to meet in Morecambe or not. It now appears that although the Council don’t want CHE, the owners of the pier on which the conference was going to be held still do. The council have suggested that the pier is ‘unsafe’, but this is strongly refuted by the pier’s owners and manager.

It seems that it has only just dawned on the Council that the letters stand for Campaign for HOMOSEXUAL Equality, – so they’re objecting on ‘moral’ grounds. Like Weymouth, they don’t fancy the idea of a gay ‘invasion’.

The only remaining stumbling block is the approval of the town’s Publicity Committee – who have said that they originally endorsed CHE’s application on ‘incomplete information’.

Other problems have arisen over accommodation – only two hotels amongst all those written to, gave a favourable reply. Elsewhere empty hotels are suddenly ‘full’ when CHE needs rooms.

The issue has now become a matter of public debate – the ‘Morecambe Guardian’ has pointed out that the council could be liable for damages for breaking their contract. The story has also been reported in the ‘Morecambe Visitor’ and ‘Lancashire Evening Post’.

CHE has decided to go to Morecambe anyway, booking their accommodation and facilities privately (since it is now too late to change their venue) and will lobby councillors and appeal to the people of Morecambe to raise enough cash to pay for it all.