Leader takes rap for Palestinian flag farce

Palaestinian Flag raised at Preston Town Hall
Palaestinian Flag raised at Preston Town Hall
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The leader of Preston Council has taken the rap for the authority’s farcical handling of the Palestinian flag debacle.

The flag was raised outside Preston Town Hall on Friday afternoon, 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 receiving 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.

Since the debacle hundreds of people have criticised the handling of the situation.

Today, council leader Coun Peter Rankin said it 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.

“I hold my hands up – the press statement went out too early, before we had seen the group of local residents. It was a difficult situation, it was not an easy day. I have had a lot of responses from all over the world, particularly the North West both for and against. I, and colleagues, are trying to respond to the polite ones.”

See today’s Lancashire Evening Post for the full report