Proposal to fly Union flag 'every day, on every Lancaster City Council building' voted down

A proposal by a Lancaster councillor which would have seen the Union flag permanently flown on Lancaster City Council buildings was narrowly lost in a vote at full council.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 9:32 am
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 9:34 am

Coun John Reynolds who represents Carnforth and Millhead Ward, proposed the motion at a full council meeting, but councillors voted against it by 26 to 25 votes.

There was one abstention.

Coun Reynolds said his intention had been to take back the flag from "a small number who have hijacked it as a symbol for their bigoted view of the world".

The Union Flag at half mast at Morecambe Town Hall.

The motion stated: "Our nation's flag is a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom that creates a shared sense of civic pride, and unites us as one people on these islands.

"People expect to see the Union flag flying high on civic buildings as a sign of our local and national pride, and our shared identity.

"The Union flag should be flown every day, on every Lancaster City Council building.

"We note that the mayor has approved the flying of the Union flag on council buildings on a permanent basis, in line with the suggestion from MHCLG."

Coun John Reynolds.

Coun Reynolds said after the meeting: "The first thing I would say is that a lot was made of the Union Flag as a symbol of racism and division in the meeting.

"People hijack flags. The EDL have hijacked the Union Flag and we need to reclaim it for the decent, tolerant, freedom and peace loving majority.

Think of the red flag, symbol of the socialist movement, hijacked by dictators responsible for the peacetime deaths of around 57 million people over the last 150 years.

"I don’t protest that flag being waved or celebrated in song.

"I understand it is more importantly a symbol of working peoples' struggle against a system that unfairly treated them.

"A proud banner of those hard won freedoms and rights.

"That’s just the same as the Union Flag, don’t let the lowest possible denominator, slave traders, imperialists and a small number of people who have hijacked it as a symbol for their bigoted view of the world; and take it back for the proud, tolerant majority.

"Secondly, the council has many priorities, not least our local recovery from Covid 19.

"I don’t expect a budget to be set for this, nor do I expect flag poles to be lit for example, and managed 24/7, far from it.

"We must use the resources we have to meet the priorities of our community.

"However, some of our flags do need to be replaced. The one on Morecambe Town Hall, for example, is in tatters. I think anyone would expect to see them replaced on a regular basis.

"We British our a proud people. We have a glorious past, and a very bright future.

"The last 18 months have proved that while much is made by some of our divisions, we have far more in common, and our neighbourliness, humour and optimism is the envy of the world.

"Our flag is a symbol of our collective nationhood. My motion was a simple proposition; this is Britain, why not fly that flag everyday?

"I was disappointed the motion fell, particularly as it did so by one vote.

"I was encouraged, however, by the offer from newly elected leader, Caroline Jackson, to work with me to find a way to find compromise on this matter.

"At the meeting, one councillor suggested that people being in favour of the Union Flag was mythical, and asked where all these patriotic, proud, flag waving people were - it’s time for the quiet majority to speak."

Coun Caroline Jackson, who became the new leader of Lancaster City Council this week, said: "In the Full council meeting I was touched by the deep and passionate feelings of speakers on both sides of the debate.

"In voting against I was concerned that some provisions of the motion might be divisive within our communities.

"However I assured the proposer, in debate and afterwards, that the intent of his motion was one we must continue to consider with respect.

"Our political system requires winners and losers but that doesn’t mean I or the new administration intend to ignore the deeply held values of significant numbers of our community."