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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
Men's clubs overturn ban on women
Pint of beer
The move has been welcomed by club modernisers
The annual conference of working men's clubs in Blackpool has overturned a ban on women having equal membership.

Until Saturday, they could join their local club, but would be unable to visit other clubs around the country unless they were with a male member.

The vote is seen a success for modernisers who have been trying to change the rules for years, but were always blocked by traditionalists.

The limited access has affected some 30,000 female members.

'Major breakthrough'

Kevin Smythe, general secretary of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, told the BBC: "This is to enable women to go to clubs other than their own, and to gain full benefits, to come to conferences, where they can represent their club.

"So this has never happened before, so it is a major breakthrough."

The vote comes days after the organisation warned the impending smoking ban in England and Wales could put up to 20% of the clubs out of business.

The smoking ban will start in Wales on 2 April and in England on 1 July.


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