MORE than three decades after one of the most bitter industrial disputes Scotland has ever seen, four towns are to host “engagement events” to hear from people affected by the policing of the miners’ strike.

The independent review on the impact of policing on communities during the 1984-5 strike, led by solicitor advocate John Scott QC, has announced four sessions, where those directly affected are invited to share their experiences.

Scott and his advisory panel – former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, Jim Murdoch, Professor of Public Law at the University of Glasgow and former assistant chief constable Kate Thomson – will take evidence over the coming months.

Events will be held at Alloa Town Hall, on October 9, Cumnock Town Hall (October 12), the Lochgelly Centre, in Fife (November 20) and the National Mining Museum, Newtongrange (November 21).

These public gatherings will run alongside the wider call for evidence, which was announced on September 3 and is open until November 30.

Scott said: “If you were a miner, part of a mining community, a police officer or in some other way affected by, or involved in, the strike, I am really interested to hear about your experiences. If you can, please join us at one of these events, or respond to our call for evidence.”

The dispute – the most divisive in modern history – was orchestrated by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was determined to de-nationalise the coalfields and tame the unions.

In this case it was the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) led by Arthur Scargill and in Scotland by Mick McGahey.

Many had doubted Scargill’s wisdom calling a strike in March, when more than 21 million tonnes of coal were stockpiled at pitheads and 23m tonnes at power stations.

However, many did stop work in a dispute that pitted miner against miner and saw clashes with police as non-striking miners, dubbed “scabs”, tried to get into their place of work.

Previously close communities were ripped apart, and names like Bilston Glen, Monktonhall, Polkemmet and Seafield became commonplace across the media as the strike intensified.

One of the biggest flashpoints was Ravenscraig steelworks in Motherwell, the survival of which depended on its 24-hour operation.

Coal had been taken in there by rail, but a communications breakdown between the triple alliance of the rail, steel and mining unions saw stock deliveries halted just two months into the strike.

Haulage company Yuill and Dodds secured a deal to deliver coal by road, which led to unprecedented scenes outside Ravenscraig as police – many mounted – clashed with pickets trying to stop the lorries.

Despite Scotland having only a tenth of the UK’s mining workforce, it saw 500 arrests – almost a third of the UK total – during the strike.

Scott previously told the BBC the strike’s impact was still being felt: “In some of the smaller communities in particular, the knock-on affect with their families, and then on the town or village itself – many, many people were affected and suffered as a result.”