Thursday, 19 April 2012
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
Councillor Matthew Street has sent out a carrion call to all who believe that most local councils are a hive of inactivity and uselessness. At a time when many a council and councillor is finding any excuse to flag wave - the Olympics (again), the Diamond Jubilee, Teresa May being left to hang out to dry - Councillor Street is clamping down on the unnecessary raising (and lowering) of flags.
In little Crowborough flags are raised and lowered 29 times a year on seven separate flag poles. That means two men with a van and a ladder scuttle round the town clocking up over-time during the summer months.
The Council has taken a red pen to many of the flag raising (and lowering) occasions. No more will the flag fly on the day that Crowborough's old council was formed, or on the day the new body came into being.
Ties with the Commonwealth have been rudely shattered, such is the cruel cull of flag days. No more will visiting ex pats from Canada, Australia and New Zealand stand rudely to attention as their flags ascend the pole on their national days.
The royals don't get off Scot free. Prince Philip and his kids, except the heir apparent of course, will no longer feel a warm glow in the breast knowing that in some little town in Sussex, two council employees will be up early and to abed late as the flags are unfurled and then folded away to celebrate their birthdays. Apparently after much discussion the Council ruled out a Kate Middleton flag day.
Not all tradition and ceremony has been sacrificed to Councillor Street's ruthless efficiency. The Queen will run up the pole four times a year as always, and St George can be rest assured that his day has not been done away with.
Some members of the Council have been scandalised. There was considerable support for keeping Prince Philip's flag flying - at 90 it was thought rather mean to haul him down - what harm a few years more. However, the ever resourceful Matthew Street pointed out that for last year's royal wedding the French flag was raised!
We are not told whether that was in error, they'd simply ran out of Union Jacks or some were in the wash. Whatever the reason is was unforgivable.
I do think Mr Street are onto something here. Across our country there must be millions of flags being raised and lowered on high days and holidays. A 10 % reduction could, I suspect, contribute to a reduction in Council Tax of at least a penny a week.
No doubt some industrious and inventive Englishman is at this very moment devising a automatic flag raising mechanism which runs on wind, solar power or hot air from the Council chamber.
And Councillor Street, is too fanciful to suggest that in Crowborough, at least, he should be honoured in some small way - a flag day perhaps?