Friday, November 25, 2005

Opponents pole-axed in flag row

The Journal
Friday, November 25, 2005

A council which was forced to stop flying the European Union flag after complaints from a protest group, last night granted itself the go-ahead to resurrect it.

County Durham's Wear Valley District Council pulled down the EU Ring of Stars after complaints from two members of The People's No Campaign group. North-East 'metric martyrs' Neil Herron and Jim Tague argued it was unlawful for a local authority to fly the political symbol in front of its public buildings.

But last night, Wear Valley's development control committee unanimously voted to give the authority permission to re-erect it at the Civic Centrem in Crook.

The decision came despite a raft of objections from campaigners, including a drive to replace it with England's national flag, the Cross of St George.

They also criticised the council's use of public money to fund the application for a flag.

One complaint said: "If the council has surplus money the following flags should be displayed as a priority: Union Jack, Flag of St George, Flag of Scotland and Flag of Wales."

Another added: "I strongly object that you wish to use taxpayers' money to unlawfully promote a political project."

In a statement before the application was passed, Mr Herron said: "The issue of our membership of the EU is politically contentious and one for national Government and not for promotion by local authorities.
"Their limited resources would be better spent on issues which are important to the local community, not for political grandstanding."

The group added that even if the council pass the application, they believe it will still be unlawful.

But last night Wear Valley District Council development control committee member Ron Grogan said he objected to the matter being debated at all.
"They are complaining about the council paying £265 but I have asked our planing officer to calculate how much this has cost in terms of officers' time.
"Many of the political points they raised were not relevant to the committee meeting."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"committee member Ron Grogan said he objected to the matter being debated at all." I bet he does.

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