Poll: EU flag flying sparks controversy in Barking and Dagenham
- Credit: Archant
A decision to fly the European Union flag has been labelled an “insult” to the borough’s residents who voted against it in this year’s local elections.
Members of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), which came second to Labour in the May 22 elections, have spoken out against council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell’s decision. They claimed it sent a message of “no respect” to residents who oppose Brussels.
The blue flag with 12 golden stars in a circle has been flying over council buildings alongside the Union Jack and the borough’s colours since May 30 but seems to have gone relatively unnoticed until now.
Ukip MEP Gerard Batten, who spotted the flag during a recent visit to the borough, said: “It’s an insult to the people of Barking and Dagenham.
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“I think it’s an absolute outrage that the council should fly a foreign flag – which is what it is. We should only have one flag on public buildings and that is the flag of our own country.”
Ukip member and former Mayesbrook Ward councillor Dee Hunt said: “I really don’t understand why it’s happening.
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“Is he [Cllr Rodwell] trying to prove a point? It doesn’t make sense, but I’m afraid nothing he does makes sense to me. Personally I think it is making a mockery of everything.”
Pam Dumbleton, 69, who stood as a Ukip councillor in Thames Ward, losing to Labour, said the flag sent the message “that the council have got no respect for residents”.
Ukip has promised to start a petition calling for the flag to be removed, which would require 1,500 signatures to be debated by the council assembly. The party received 15.4 per cent of the vote compared to Labour’s 69.13pc in thr vote and and failed to win any seats on the council.
A council spokesman said its flag-flying policy was published online, adding it was “at the leader’s discretion as to what flags are flown”.
In a statement, Cllr Rodwell said: “Here in Barking and Dagenham we are proud of our history, we respect and rightly celebrate it whilst also are inspired by what the future holds for our borough.
“We are one borough, one community and next year sees us celebrate 50 years as a borough of Barking and Dagenham, a landmark we will be celebrating with all of our different communities.
“I am proud to be a resident of Barking and Dagenham, a member of the Union of the United Kingdom and a member of the European Union.”
The UK joined the EU following a referendum in 1975.