POLITICAL correctness has been blamed after a college cancelled its annual Christmas carol concert.
Staff and students of West Cheshire College have gathered together for a service at St Mary's Church in Handbridge going back over many years.
But staff were told in an email there was too much work involved and since the college did not organise other religious festivals it was no longer appropriate to hold the Christmas concert.
Usually staff and students take part in readings, the college choir sings hymns and there is an opportunity for everyone to mingle afterwards over mince pies and mulled wine.
Malcolm Dolman, branch officer for Unison, said inquiries with the further education college's marketing department revealed there was a desire not to offend members of other faiths.
He said: 'This sort of thing is manna to the National Front. I have seen things put out by National Front groups featuring over-the-top political correctness fomenting dissatisfaction, religious hatred and racism.'
Mr Dolman said the college should organise Christian and non-Christian events if there was demand.
'If possible they ought to be open for others to take part and learn and come together with the aim of fostering greater religious and racial harmony,' he said.
One staff member, who did not wish to be named, said: 'Quite a few people noticed the concert was not going to happen and when they asked were told it would not be appropriate to have one for the Christians among us because we don't celebrate non-Christian events.'
She said many people were 'miffed' at the decision not to hold the event which was 'quite well attended' with at least 50 at last year's event including youngsters with special needs. Another event for staff only is planned for December 21, but there is talk of a boycott.
Colin Gledhill, of the University and College Union, representing lecturers, said his union would 'deplore' a decision to ban the concert on politically-correct grounds.
He said: 'We should celebrate diversity and not give any section of society any reason not to express themselves according to their own social norms.'
The email from the principal's office read: 'There is not going to be a carol service this year. There are a number of reasons for this decision being taken. It's a lot of work for marketing to undertake at an already very busy time of year with not many students and staff attending and as we hold no other religious services it no longer seems appropriate to hold this one.'
A college spokeswoman said: 'The decision not to hold this year's Christmas carol service was purely as a result of poor attendance in previous years and existing pressures on those who would have been involved in its organisation. The college strongly refutes that faith issues played any part in its decision to cancel.'