St George's Day 'rose ban' attempt at Stockport market
Officials tried to ban market traders from handing out red roses on St George's Day, it has been claimed.
Stallholders at Stockport Market said they had been warned the blooms - which are used in the Labour Party's logo - could breach election rules.
Traders said they have been giving out the free flowers for many years to mark England's national day on 23 April.
Following complaints, Liberal Democrat-led Stockport Council said the tradition would be allowed to continue.
John O'Mara, from the Stockport branch of the National Market Traders' Federation (NMTF), said the council had initially threatened to "forcibly remove" anyone giving out roses.
Traders said that, following their complaints, they were told they would be allowed to distribute them outside, but not inside, the market hall.
But the council has now relaxed those restrictions and allowed the roses to be distributed anywhere on the premises, it is understood.
Trader Mostafa Rezvani, a stallholder, said the council wanted to "keep neutrality" in the market.
"I think the 100 roses that we were going to give out is not going to make a great difference for the Labour Party in Stockport," Mr Rezvani, a federation member, said.
Mr O'Mara added that the red roses were "a way of saying thank you to our customers for supporting us through the market year".
"People don't associate the red rose with Labour on the day - it's St George's Day, and that's the only reason we want to do it," he said.
Stockport Market has been running for more than 750 years, with independent traders now selling goods inside a building operated by the council.
A council spokeswoman said: "The council hopes that the promotion is very successful and would encourage people across the borough to make use of Stockport Market on St George's Day and throughout the year."
What's in a rose?
- The red rose is considered to have been an emblem of the medieval House of Lancaster, and has been adopted as the symbol for Lancashire
- The white rose representing the House of York was superimposed on the red rose as part of the Tudor symbol after the War of the Roses
- It followed the marriage of Henry VII, who was related to the House of Lancaster, to Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV and heiress of the House of York
- The red rose was chosen in 1986 to replace the Labour Party's previous red flag emblem and is also the symbol of England Rugby
- St George is also patron saint of Egypt, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania and Portugal, among other places
Local elections are due to be held on 5 May.
A full list of candidates in the Stockport local elections can be viewed here.