Council hits back in Union Jack row

BASSETLAW Council has hit back over claims made in a national newspaper about the conduct of one of its employees.

Wednesday, 4th April 2012, 10:30 am

The tabloid reported one of the council’s officers had been handed disciplinary papers alleging ‘gross misconduct’ for lowering the Union Flag in respect of six British soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

But the authority has refuted the allegations the worker’s job was in jeopardy and states no employee has been disciplined in relation to the incident.

The council has since revealed it only lowers the Union Flag for fallen soldiers from Bassetlaw or the Mercian Regiment - to the dismay of residents.

Creswell mum Sandra Thomas’s son is in the armed forces and said the flag should be lowered for every service man and woman killed.

“We should be standing together and supporting all our armed forces,” said the 42-year-old from Hawthorne Way. “They’re all pulling together to keep us safe.”

Worksop dad-of-three Martin Leigh, 51, of Gateford Road, said the council’s policy was ‘atrocious’.

“Those lads are putting their lives on the line for us, the least we can do is show them respect,” he said. “It flies in the face of everything they stand for. It should be for all of our boys - they all deserve to be remembered.”

Mary Belshaw, 72, from Carlton, said: “They are serving their country, no matter what county they’re from.”

Bassetlaw Council says its policy is consistent with every authority in the county and the officer referred to in the Sun article remains at work and is undertaking their ‘full range of normal duties’.

The statement continued: “As a council, we have a strong link with our local regiment the Mercians and this was clearly demonstrated by the 2010 Freedom March through Retford. In the tragic event of loss of life from our local regiment, it is council policy to lower the flags on our municipal buildings as a mark of respect.”

“As one of the latest local authorities to launch the ‘Heroes Welcome’ scheme and as an active supporter of the Royal British Legion, Bassetlaw Council is proud of the support it gives to our local regiment and our armed forces.”

Royal British Legion branch chairman Brian Madden wanted to stress his position as Worksop standard bearer.

“I’m responsible for doing it and take great pride in that duty,” he said. “The flag policy is the council’s and it’s not for me to say whether it’s right or wrong.”