Argyll & Bute Council spends more on flags than any other Council in Scotland according to new figures obtained by an FOI request supported by local MSP Michael Russell.
But those figures may help Argyll & Bute SNP Council Group Leader Sandy Taylor secure the flying of the Saltire on Council flag poles, after a long period during which it has rarely been seen.
According to the FOI request, during the financial year 2014/15 Argyll & Bute spent £977 on buying flags, these being ones with the Council coat of arms on a white background. That was almost double the next highest figure. The special Argyll and Bute flags are flown on most days on many Council flagpoles, a change from the Saltire, which was flown regularly until 2013, when a senior official took the decision to rescind previous practice, consulting only the Council Leader and the Provost.
An earlier attempt to persuade the current administration to revert to the flying of the Saltire on all days on which another flag is not prescribed (usually the Union flag for Royal occasions) was unsuccessful but now Cllr Taylor, along with Cllr Philand of Argyll First, has proposed the following motion, which will be considered by the Council on Thursday :
“NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER STANDING ORDER 13 The Flag of Scotland (The Saltire)”
Whereas the Mid Argyll community previously benefitted from the regular flying of the Saltire on the Front Green of Lochgilphead, its removal prior to 2014 Referendum continues to cause considerable consternation, as evidenced by a local petition, community council, business representations to local Members and newspaper articles. This concern however, is not restricted to Mid Argyll, but is reflected across Argyll and Bute.
The Council’s Flag Flying policy sets out which flags are to be flown, from which flag staffs or poles on which flag days; including the Saltire on six days per year, and the Council flag on the day of a Council meeting.
Whereas it has been suggested that the continuous use of the Saltire diminishes the significance of flag flying on appointed days, this is clearly at odds with other Councils, at least 19 of which fly the Saltire, businesses and governmental agencies which hold no such fear.
That the Council Flag Flying Policy be amended so that the Flag of Scotland be flown on Council flag staffs (poles) on all days other than those specified in the Flag Flying Policy for the flying of the Union flag and the Council flag.
Commenting on the motion Cllr Taylor said:
“I hope the administration will now listen to the clear view of the public that they want this Council to be like many others and fly our national flag as often as possible. The opportunity exists to start afresh on this matter and I hope that this modest change can find sufficient support across the Council chamber.”
Mr Russell added:
“Argyll & Bute is out of step with national sentiment on these matters and on some occasion the policy creates a nonsense, such as the year when the Council flagpoles on Castle Hill in Dunoon (the most permanent flagpole on the town) had nothing on it during Cowal Games, whilst there were flags hanging everywhere else in the area. This is an ideal opportunity to move on.”