A motion to remove the European Union flag at County Hall was defeated at a full council meeting in Chichester last Friday.
UKIP’s Mike Glennon, the official opposition party leader, proposed a motion to remove the EU symbol which flies alongside a Union Jack and West Sussex flag in the chamber.
The new county councillor for Lancing registered his disappointment at the motion’s defeat as well as the other county councillors’ ‘enthusiasm’ for keeping the flag. However, Dr James Walsh, leader of the Liberal Democrats and member for Littlehampton, has branded the motion a ‘ludicrous request’ and ‘pointless gesture politics’.
Mr Glennon believed he put forward a range of compelling arguments including the net daily cost to Britain of £55 million and the fact that around 75 per cent of our laws are now determined by Brussels.
This week the member for Lancing elaborated further: “County Council already seems to have recognised the declining importance of the EU juggernaut. Commendably, they withdrew from the Assembly of European Regions, abolished their dedicated EU Office and no cabinet member now has any specific European responsibility.
“This brings some hope that the tendrils of Brussels can be resisted when there is a will.
“However, the enthusiasm with which Conservative, Liberal and Labour councillors rallied to the Star Spangled EU Banner was a sad sight indeed.”
But Dr Walsh has written to the paper this week to further criticise UKIP’s stance at county hall.
He said: “Last Friday, at the first full County Council meeting since the May elections there was a major debate on a second runway at Gatwick, and a report on all the Council activities in the last year, including reductions in services for the elderly, young people, and bus cuts.
“UKIP said they needed more time to come to a position on Gatwick; how long do they need, as the issue has been on the table for 25 years?!
“But what was their highest priority, their first action on behalf of the people they represent? They called for the removal of the EU flag from the council chamber, where it sits alongside the Union flag and the West Sussex flag.
“Never mind that we are full members of the EU, bound by treaties enacted by the Queen in Parliament; never mind that the British people in the only referendum on the subject voted by 2 to 1 to stay in the European Community, and never mind that the County Council has no power in this matter, this was UKIP’s only statement on Friday!
Dr Walsh added: “Our electorates are concerned about the economy, roads, potholes, bus services, schools, hospitals, libraries, all of which Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour spoke about, but UKIP ignored all that and went for stupid and pointless gesture politics.
“I am pleased to say that every Tory, Lib Dem and Labour member refused to support this ludicrous request, leaving only UKIP group exposed as the one trick pony that they so obviously are.”
Mr Glennon has stated: “This isn’t about being anti-European; we perceive our relationship with other European countries to be just as important as it is with all our other global neighbours.
“No, this is about resisting the stealth of EU political takeover.
“We must send a clear message that we don’t want federal EU hands on our country any more.”
What do you think? Was UKIP right to request the EU flag be removed at a debate that centred on the local authority’s historic decision to back a second runway at Gatwick Airport?
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