Stroud Town Council has decided not to award a grant to an upcoming NHS celebration because of concerns that it could become a political event.

Earlier in May, councillors had agreed in principle to approve a grant to Stroud Against the Cuts (SAC) for an upcoming celebration of seventy years of the NHS, but delegated the final decision to the town clerk after some councillors raised concerns the event would single out one political party.

Following a meeting with organisers from Stroud Against the Cuts last week, town clerk Helen Bojaniwska decided that there was a risk of the event becoming overly political.

A council cannot fund “material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party”, in contravention to Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.

Town Mayor Kevin Cranston said: “The Town Clerk firmly believes that the majority of the activities planned are completely consistent with a celebration of the NHS, for which the Council expressed a willingness to provide grant funding.

“SAC has also offered to either remove or modify some elements that might be regarded as overly political or critical of a political party.

“Whilst SAC are not a political party or affiliated to one, they do have a history of protesting about political issues and in the recent past have published material designed to influence voting at elections, as evidenced by their newsletters, social media and website.

“The Clerk has rightly also taken into account that even if SAC comply with any conditions that the Council might attach to any grant funding, the event will involve a number of other organisations which are likely to present material “designed to affect public support for a political party”.

“Therefore it would not be appropriate, or lawful, for the Council to issue a grant for this event. The Town Council has always championed the local NHS and has held public meetings and lobbied to protect the services in the town.

“Nobody should take this decision as a sign that the Town Council isn’t fully supportive of the NHS. The Town Council is unanimous in valuing the NHS as a vital part of national and local life.”

Chair of Stroud Against the Cuts James Beecher said: “We're obviously very disappointed that our funding application has not been authorised.

“Who can access health care, and how that care is managed and paid for, are clearly issues that are "political" in the sense of who has power in society, but nonetheless as we keep saying, the purpose of our event on July 7 is to celebrate the founding principles of the NHS.

“In defending these principles, we believe that it is ordinary people standing up for NHS services and the people who work in them that is most important – not party politics.”

To make up for the lost grant, SAC has launched a crowdfunding page, which you can visit here:

The group is also holding its annual general meeting on Sunday June 3 from 6.30pm at Lansdown Hall, where, aside from electing new officers, reviewing the last year and elaborating plans for the next, there will be a screening of the film ‘Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle’.