Blackpool Conservative club to pay out £35,000 after equality blow

Irene James, Ellen Whiteley and Amanda Mitchell Image copyright Not specified
Image caption The women said the club was "stuck in the 50s"

Three women are celebrating winning a battle against "dinosaurs" who tried to block their attempts to join a Conservative club's committee.

Tyldesley Conservative Club in Blackpool settled a claim of unlawful discrimination from Amanda Mitchell, Ellen Whiteley and Irene James based on their gender.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre ordered the club to pay the women a total of £9,000 compensation and £26,000 costs.

The club was not available for comment.

Ms James, 67, Ms Mitchell, 45, and Ms Whiteley, 57, said the club was "stuck in the 50s" for refusing to allow women on to the committee.

The three friends took the legal action in order to stand up for women.

'Try again'

Ms James said she nominated herself in 2014, only to be told she had not been a member long enough and to try again the following year.

But when she tried to do so before the club's annual general meeting in November 2015, she and her friends were not put forward for consideration.

Ms James said: "We were prepared to stand up for our rights... even though we have been vilified for 13 months.

"It was not about the money; we just wanted an acknowledgement and an apology."

'Necks on block'

The retired primary care assistant said they are all still determined to serve on the committee as they have ideas to "boost the club".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The club committee was unavailable for comment following the out-of-court settlement

"It needs to move with the times," she said.

Their solicitor, Tim Fielding, said it was a very unusual case "because it is rare for people to put their necks on the block" and litigate against an association or private club.

He said: "I have been practising for more than 20 years and never come across a case like it."

The club committee was unavailable for comment following the out-of-court settlement.

The Association of Conservative Clubs said it was "pleased an out-of-court settlement has been reached" and "clearly established that female members are able to stand in all future committee elections".

The Equality Act 2010

It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

You're protected from discrimination in these situations:

  • At work
  • In education
  • As a consumer
  • When using public services
  • When buying or renting property
  • As a member or guest of a private club or association

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