Derbyshire rainbow flag snub council 'out of touch'

By Greig Watson
BBC News, East Midlands

  • Published
Pride paradeImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The decision has been called "ridiculous" and "offensive" on social media

A council has been branded "out of touch" for refusing to fly rainbow flags during Pride month.

Ockbrook and Borrowash Parish Council in Derbyshire last week voted against putting up several flags purchased last year.

Two councillors have resigned over the decision, which some villagers have branded "ridiculous" and "offensive".

The council's chairman said flying the flag could be divisive and set a "dangerous precedent".

The parish council bought several rainbow flags - a symbol of the LBGTQ+ community - last year in anticipation of supporting Pride month.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The council usually meets in the parish hall but is using teleconferencing due to coronavirus lockdown measures

But councillors Jeff and Sheila Owens said they knew "something was up" when Jeff was told to put his inquiry about the flags to a full meeting.

"I had thought it would be uncontroversial," Mr Owens said. "No other flags we had used needed a vote.

"We were surprised and disappointed it lost, so we resigned. I think the reaction of the local community has exonerated us."

The decision was widely criticised on a community Facebook page.

Jules Fraser-Burton, a villager and former parish councillor, said: "This is a lovely community and this just shows the council are out of touch with it.

"It feels like they have been very aggressive in how they handled something that is supposed to support inclusion and diversity."

Image source, Gregory Maskalick
Image caption,
Villager Gregory Maskalick put his own flag up

Ms Fraser-Burton said several people planned to display their own flags

The council declined to comment directly but chairman Michael White issued a statement saying it already supported minority groups.

He added: "It is totally wrong to politicise this issue by the flying of a flag which seemingly gives the appearance that one part of our community is being made more special than all the others.

"Some councillors fear that a dangerous precedent could be set by flying this flag which could be seen as divisive when we have spent many years working to bring our communities together."

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