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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Gibraltar bands banned from hall
Gibraltar
The concert promoted 'Gibraltar for the Gibraltarians'
The local council in Europe minister Peter Hain's constituency has banned three pop groups from Gibraltar from playing in a council hall because it claims the booking would have "political overtones".

In February, music club Rock on the Rock's James Martin was told he could bring the bands to the venue in Neath, south Wales, on 4 May.


The booking has political overtones outside the remit of this council

Neath Council

But when he called a month later to confirm the booking, Mr Martin was told the date was unavailable.

He told the BBC's Radio 4 programme: "Because we were rather suspicious about the change, I had a friend in Neath call the hall posing as a prospective user to find out what dates were offered him, and sure enough he was offered 4 May which had been denied us."

Asked to explain the decision, Neath Council issued a statement saying that it had been unable to accept the booking because it "has political overtones outside the remit of this council".

'Non-political'

Mr Martin rejected the explanation, describing Rock on the Rock as a "non-political, cultural organisation".

The aim of the concert, he said, was to establish closer ties between Gibraltar and Wales.

Wales has a strong Gibraltarian presence, as about 12% of all students studying in Cardiff come from the Rock, he added.

But when asked to explain the concert's message, Mr Martin said: "The message of the concert was actually Gibraltar for Gibraltarians.

"They're being squeezed at the moment between the negotiations between Britain and Spain over the Rock's future, and I don't think the voice of Gibraltar is being listened to."

See also:

16 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Gibraltar attacks sovereignty plan
16 Mar 02 | Europe
EU summit agrees key reforms
11 Feb 02 | UK Politics
'Gibraltar wants to remain British'
05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Straw accused of Gibraltar betrayal
06 Feb 02 | England
Scramble for Rock votes
04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Gibraltar talks 'still on course'
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