Lord Ampthill resigns 0ver Maggie flag row

Bare Flag Pole
Bare Flag Pole

DAVID Russell has resigned from Rye Town Council following a decision not to fly the Town Hall flag at half mast for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.

Councillors voted not to fly the flag as they saw the role of Prime Minister as a political appointment. Instead they decided to remove it altogether in recognition that her funeral was a significant event.

Cllr Russell said: “The Town Council received advice from the College of Arms. This could have been interpreted as an invitation or a statement of duty to fly the Town Hall flag at half mast from dawn until dusk on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

“The Council’s ungenerous little gesture, by nine votes to three, was to fly no flag in the place where one normally flies.

“It may be that this was a decision of little consequence. But it appeared to suggest that members were unable to distinguish between her politics (confrontational in the extreme) and the person (the United Kingdom’s pre-eminent statesman of the post-war period). Many will have enjoyed the commentator’s remark that Lady Thatcher was “a Dreadnought amongst a fishing fleet”. But whereas Rye knows a thing or two about fishing, its Town Council seemed to know little of respect.

“At its best, the Town Council would advise and cajole its District and County Council partners. Instead, its knee-jerk reaction is to reach for the bag of rotten tomatoes. There has been insufficient purpose in proceedings; and it is time to up the game .

Rye Town Clerk Richard Farhall explained the Council’s position.

“The majority of parish and town councillors prefer to conduct their council’s business free of party politics. They are motivated solely by a desire to act in their community’s best interests.

“By removing the Union Flag Rye Town Council acknowledged the significance of Lady Thatcher’s funeral whilst not recognising it formally. It was, essentially, a neutral stance.

“The debate which resulted in the decision to remove the Union Flag entirely from the Town Hall focussed on the Office of Prime Minister and not Baroness Thatcher as an individual.”

Cllr Russell continues in his role as a Rye Rother Cllr.