by Rebecca Hannant and Ray Duffill
Rainbow flags have gone on display in several shops in Hedon after the town council voted not to fly the Pride flag from its headquarters.
At the latest Hedon Town Council meeting on June 22, Councillor Steve Gallant raised the idea of flying a flag outside the Town Hall in St Augustine’s Gate to support Pride month.
However, despite Cllr Gallant and councillors Sam Banks, Philip Hinch and Colin Billany supporting the idea, it was voted down by councillors David Thompson, Brenda Goldspink, Di Storr, Sarah Rommell and Jason Brindley.
The town council later clarified that it wanted to reserve the flagpole for civic occasions. However, a counter-proposal by Cllr Gallant – who said that instead of using the flagpole, the town council could put a poster in its window – was also refused.
The town council did fly the Ukrainian flag in March 2022, which some have argued could have set a precedent for flying other flags in solidarity. Previously, the only other flags flown from the Town Hall have been the Yorkshire flag on Yorkshire Day and a St George Cross for other civic occasions.
According to the Hedon Town Council minutes of the Property Committee on March 10, 2022: “Members agreed that the council should purchase and fly the Ukrainian flag in support of the Ukraine during the current conflict; this item would be on the F&GP agenda for a formal decision.”
In a bid to support Pride, Cllr Gallant has been out and about in recent days delivering posters to businesses across Hedon, many of whom have been more than happy to display them.
Cllr Gallant said: “The proposal to fly the Pride flag was voted down by five votes to four (only nine councillors were present).
“But the precedent that other flags can be flown has been set. Voting down one proposal does not prevent future discussions of flying other flags in the future. I’m delighted how many businesses in Hedon have displayed the Hedon Supports Pride poster to show we are an inclusive community.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, July 5, the town council said: “After much deliberation at Thursday night’s meeting, Hedon Town Council decided to take a conventional approach to flag flying, and refrain from flying the Pride flag at the Town Hall.
“The Pride flag raised the question of whether to take a more progressive approach to flag flying; the Pride flag being one of many possible flags to fly from the Town Hall’s flagpole.
“After due consideration, Hedon Town Council, conscious of the local heritage, decided to preserve the use of the flagpole for traditional civic occasions to remain in keeping with the historic of Hedon.
“Councillors were wholly supportive of the Pride movement and the awareness of the campaign for the LGBTQIA+ community, not only Hedon’s diverse population but to diversity in the population everywhere.
“The Pride campaign is a month long, and this is still not enough time to debate the complex issues and challenges pertinent to the LGBTQIA+ community; this conversation is much bigger than a short council meeting.
“Hedon Town Council serves the community of Hedon no matter how they identify.
As a council, we aim to support everyone in the community through a positive and progressive approach to all aspects of society that impact Hedon.”