Santa must be a man, councillors decide
Santa Claus must be a man, local councillors have decided following a vote on whether a woman could step into the role.
A debate was sparked when a woman offered to play Father Christmas in the traditional Santa Claus tour around Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Since at least the 1970s, Santas have toured the town in a flatbed truck every Christmas Eve, handing out sweets to delighted children.
The Santas have always been male volunteers but it was suggested that a woman could step in this year.
That led to calls of political correctness and a fear of disappointed children who would expect a male voice to be ho-ho-hoing.
At a meeting of Great Aycliffe Town Council's Recreation Committee on Wednesday, the recommendation from its Events sub-committee to allow women volunteers to be Santa was considered - and rejected.
In a statement the council said: "The Recreation Committee did not agree with the recommendation and confirmed by resolution that the role of Santa Claus should continue to be a male role."
The debate followed worries earlier this year that the tour would have to be scrapped amid concerns about the legality of someone travelling on the back of a moving van, until Chief Constable Mike Barton made an assurance Father Christmas would not be prosecuted as long as the vehicle was slow.