Bosses at the National Coal Mining Museum have rejected calls to cancel a booking by the local Conservative association.
It was claimed the choice of location was an insult to former miners and their families with the Tories widely blamed for the decimation of the British coal industry.
The annual dinner is planned for March 10 next year, two days after the anniversary of the return to work at the end of the Miners’ Strike in 1985.
A formal complaint submitted by Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), says it is “wrong to allow the museum to be used by a political party that is clearly determined to keep rubbing salt into the wounds it created.”
The NUM says it is a “matter of common knowledge that members of the Conservative Party conspired to close and destroy the coal industry.”
But the National Coal Mining Museum for England has defended itself, saying it is required to maintain political independence so cannot “refuse or revoke the booking.”
Museum director Nick Dodd said: “As a publicly and grant-funded national museum, the remit of the National Coal Mining Museum for England is to curate the heritage of this remarkable industry and its communities in an impartial manner.
“The museum’s mission is to keep stories of coal mining alive by collecting and preserving the industry’s rich heritage and it is open to everyone in the community to access and use the galleries, collections, underground tour and wider facilities, as well as taking part in activities and events.
“The museum is also a registered charity and, as such, it is required by the Charity Commission’s rules to maintain political independence.
“In light of the above requirements of its funding and its charity status, the museum is not in a position to be able to refuse or to revoke the function booking in question.”
A catering firm, which has the contract for functions, has also issued a statement.
Anthony Hegney, director of Asparagus Green Catering Ltd, said: “As a local, independent company, we are contracted to promote the conference and events space and manage function and events on behalf of the museum.
“Whilst we are aware of the specific sensitivities surrounding this booking, within the scope of our contract and the museum’s operating/funding guidelines, it would be inappropriate for us to have an allegiance to – or to exclude – any one political party, cause or individual; we therefore host a broad range of causes, organisations and groups for dinners, conferences, parties and community events.”