A Penwortham town councillor has blasted attempts to raise a European flag at November’s Remembrance Sunday parade as “blatantly political”.
At a meeting of the town council on Tuesday, September 4, the council passed a motion proposed by Coun David Howarth to fly the Flag of Europe at the upcoming Remembrance Day parade on Sunday, November 11.
But in a letter sent to councillors by Town Coun Alan Best, Ron Drakeford from the Friends of Penwortham War Memorial, and President and Chairman of the Royal British Legion for Middleforth, Major Harry Benson, the decision was labelled as politicising a day that “should be kept free of the taint of politics”.
It adds that “the flag of the Council of Europe and the flag of the EU are one and the same” due to it being the official symbol of both organisations, which are separate.
Coun Best added: “This is a blatantly political move. I think it was a gross misjudgment. And I think you will find the vast majority of people will agree with me.”
The motion was withdrawn at Monday’s Strategy and Finance Committee by Coun Howarth, who also chairs the committee, until after this year’s armistice ceremony.
Coun Howarth said: “I was approached by a member of the public and asked if we could consider flying the Flag of the Council of Europe as we have had peace in Europe for 50 years. We put it to the council to consider flying it on Remembrance Sunday.”
But after receiving a series of objections, Coun Howarth withdrew the motion.
He said: “We thought the best cause of action at this time was to defer any decision until after November 11 and to set up a working group for how we approach Remembrance Sunday going forward.
“The last thing we want is for anything to impact on Remembrance Sunday itself.”
On the accusation of politicising, Coun Howarth said: “Where do we draw the line? You can argue the same with poppies on England football shirts. You could say the same about the Union Jack when far right groups use that in the past.”
He added: “The Flag of Europe and the Council of Europe are nothing to do with the EU. We will still be in the Council of Europe after Brexit. It was founded to protect human rights, democracy and prevent war in Europe.
“All Coun Best can see is the flag’s connection to the EU. All the objections seem to be about the EU.”