Scarborough Council votes to fly Union Flag on all its buildings all year round

Scarborough council has voted to fly the Union Flag on council-owned buildings all year round.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 9:27 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 9:30 am
Scarborough Town Hall

Cllr Neil Heritage, the leader of the Yorkshire Coast Independents Alliance, brought the motion to a meeting of the full council yesterday, where it gained the support of the members.

Cllr Heritage, himself a former serviceman, was backed in his motion by Cllr Bill Chatt of the Cluster of Independent Members.

In his motion Cllr Heritage, who was elected in 2019 as a UKIP member but later left the party, says the flag should fly above buildings “where appropriate”.

Speaking in at the meeting, Cllr Heritage said the flag was “not a political symbol”.

He said: “The Union Jack represents the colours I salute when I stand at the cenotaph at Oliver’s Mount on a cold, wet November morning at 11 o’clock remembering colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters in arms that are not stood there with me.

“The Union Jack represents those who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars, and all the other walls, so we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

“The Union Jack represents the British and local businesses we all need to support and get behind for our economy to thrive.

“The Union Jack represents being one of the world leaders in top technology innovations, medical research, aerospace technology, education, engineering, artificial intelligence, electronic systems ,music and many other things we as the UK should be proud of.

“Let’s promote this British economy. Let’s buy British products, let’s support British farmers, manufacturers businesses and infrastructure therefore making British jobs and making Britain a prosperous place for our children to grow up in.

“Let’s start this by simply flying our flag on our government buildings.”

Cllr Heritage said the flag would be flown over Scarborough Town Hall and other buildings, including Scarborough Spa, Whitby Pavilion and the Evron Centre in Filey.

The Union Flag would fly on everyday apart from a number of set occasions, such as St George’s Day, Yorkshire Day and Armed Forces Day.

Cllr Chatt said that the flag was something that people took pride in.

He said: “This is the flag of Great Britain, it is our flag. This is something what we should be proud of, something where you can look and see the flag flying.

“I actually on [my] estate have one lady who flies it from a bedroom window and you know, if that is what she wants to do, she should have a right to do it.

“I also see other people with the Welsh dragon and the Scottish flag and I respect that too.

“But this is Great Britain. This is where I grew up, this is the country that educated me, looked after me, has taken care of all my medical issues, and somewhere [that] the world aspires to be.

“When you see other countries, you look at China or America, you see their flags flying proudly.”

Cllr Chatt added that the vote would show which councillors were “proud to be British”.

Conservative Cllr Phil Trumper added: “This should be a formality.

"Why are other other councillors so embarrassed about flying our national flag off our borough council buildings?”

In March, the Government announced that Union Flags would be flown every day on all UK Government buildings.

Before then it was only flown on certain occasions.

Some councillors said that they feared that flying the flag all year could “devalue” it.

Independent Cllr John Casey said: “The flag should be flown on the [current] 20 set days per year and any others that are announced by central government otherwise it devalues the flag.

“Having served in the armed forces myself on active service I love our flag and I love our country but I think we can devalue the flag.”

Labour’s Cllr Rich Maw questioned why the motion had been brought.

He said: “In the biggest public health and economic crisis for 100 years is this the best use of council time because I don’t think it is.

“I have not received one enquiry about flag hoisting, suggests to me a paucity of ideas.

"People want us to deliver on so much more.”

His fellow Labour councillor, Theresa Norton, hit back at claims that some councillors were embarrassed by the flag.

She said: “I don’t understand [claims] that we are embarrassed.

"I am not embarrassed [about] the flag.

"We love the Union Flag but there is more of a sense of occasion when it is flown on flag days.”

The motion was approved with 33 members in support and six abstaining.

Those abstaining were councillors Stewart Campbell, Rich Maw, Jane Mortimer, Michael Stonehouse, Theresa Norton and Sue Tucker.

Following the vote, the Mayor of the borough, Cllr Hazel Lynskey said it was a “great shame” that the debate had come down to right and wrong.

She added: “What we should always know is that we are loyal to our country but we have our own opinion.

“And at the end of the day it is not anybody else’s problem it is our own problem.

“And to say that we would be embarrassed is a let down.”