Conservatives on Preston Council have slammed the authority’s ruling Labour group for “taking sides” by flying the Palestinian flag from the Town Hall.
The Tory group said it was concerned that council leader Peter Rankin took the sole decision to put up the flag– which ended in fiasco.
The flag was raised outside the Town Hall on Friday afternoon for a few minutes, despite the council issuing a statement to say it would not be flown after a raft of complaints.
The council had previously announced the flag would be flown as a mark of solidarity with the people of Palestine,but after a backlash from the public said the Union Flag would be flown at half mast, and the peace flag flown this week instead.
However, just an hour after the statement was released, the Palestinian flag was raised in front of a crowd of hundreds outside the Town Hall.
The Conservative group, led by Coun Eric Fazackerley, today issued a press statement to the Evening Post.
It said: “Preston City Council Conseratives are concerned that a Labour Executive Member took it upon himself to make a unilateral decision to involve our city and appear to take sides in the Middle East conflict by flying the Palestinian Flag from the Town Hall.
“Such a decision shows little respect for the council as a whole and gives the impression that it speaks for all of the citizens of Preston.”
The flag flew for a few minutes on Friday before being taken down, in a day that has been described as “historic” and “symbolic” by supporters.
Since then hundreds of people have posted comments online criticising what happened, and the decision has hit national headlines.
This week, Coun Rankin said the flag fiasco had been a “cock-up rather than a conspiracy” and the statement backtracking on the initial plan had been released prematurely before a meeting had taken place.
He added: “We had promised both councillors and local residents that we would fly the Palestinian flag.
“It was after the statement went out I was persuaded that we should fly the flag for no more than five minutes to react to the huge humanitarian crisis.
“ It was entirely my fault, the press statement went out early. Sometimes we get it wrong.”