Pride flag will fly on Tavistock Town Hall after policy overturned

Friday 24th June 2022 11:00 am
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Tavistock Town Hall with Pride banner in foreground
Town Hall with pride banner outside (TINDLE )

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TAVISTOCK will fly the Rainbow banner on its official flagpole — but not for the town’s first Pride festival — after councillors gave in to a heartfelt plea from the event’s organisers.

Some councillors were reluctant to fly the Rainbow flag because the move went against its policy of only flying national or municipal flags from its pole on the town hall.

Pride organisers were told they could display a banner in an area near the hall, with the budget and policy committee voting narrowly — two to one with one abstention — for a recommendation to turn their request down, which went before Tuesday night’s full council meeting for ratification.

Instead of ratifying the recommendation, a majority councillors overturned the policy and agreed the Rainbow flag will fly from the town hall on Tuesday (June 28), the date of international Pride Day.

The Pride festival at the Meadows is being staged on Saturday from 1pm to 7pm.

PREVIOUS STORY: Council angst over flag flying

THE Government has done it, West Devon Borough Council is doing it and businesses in the town have lined up in their droves to do it.

But when it comes to Tavistock Town Council, the prospect of flying the multicoloured Pride Rainbow flag from the ‘official’ flag staff outside the town hall has been causing some members a certain amount of angst.

That left at least one councillor, town mayor Paul Ward, in a difficult position, to the extent he told colleagues at a budget and policy committee meeting that he felt embarrassed that they should be having a debate about the subject at all.

The dilemma arises from a request for the council to fly the Rainbow flag from the town hall in support of the first-ever Tavistock Pride event in the Meadows this Saturday. The Meadows is town council-owned property and the authority has been supportive of the event, not least by lighting up the town hall in Rainbow colours this week.

But when it comes to flying Tavistock Pride’s flag, Pride organisers have come up against a policy which suggests only the national or municipal flags should be allowed to flutter from the official flag pole. Budget and policy committee members came up with a compromise. They say the flag can be flown from an area in front of the town Hall used to display banners — at a cost — and councillors meeting on Tuesday night were debating whether to stump up for a second flag staff for future similar events.

They also considered whether they should go against past policy and allow the Pride flag to fly from the official pole in time for the weekend’s festival, which runs from 1pm to 7pm and is expected to attract a large crowd.

Cllr Ward left his council colleagues in little doubt where he stood. He told the meeting that West Devon Borough Council, East Devon District Council and Plymouth City Council flew Rainbow flags, as had the Government in 2012.

Having said he was embarrassed at having the debate, Cllr Ward added: ‘There is plenty of evidence that if we don’t, we have to have a damn good reason not to.’

The borough council also had no doubts. In a statement, they said: ‘West Devon Borough Council is flying a Pride flag proudly outside its offices throughout the month of June, to show support for Tavistock Pride and the entire LGBTQ+ community across the borough.’

It added: ‘It’s a celebration of people coming together in love and friendship, to show how far LGBTQ+ rights have come and reminding us all that in some places, there’s still work to be done to create true equality and acceptance for all.’

West Devon mayor Caroline Mott added: ‘We’re proud to be supporting Tavistock Pride and the wider LGBTQ+ community here in West Devon by raising the flag. We all want our communities to be as inclusive as possible and doing simple things like this shows our support.’

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