THE LEADER of Oldham council has defended a decision not to fly the union flag at half-mast at Uppermill park to mark the death of Baroness Thatcher.
He was responding to a question from former RAF Squadron leader Robert Knotts, who raised the issue after locals mentioned the decision to Saddleworth Parish Council.
Parish Cllr Knotts asked: “Surely it should be left to the residents of Saddleworth as to how they chose to pay respects not to the diktat of politicians?”
Council leader Jim McMahon said: “The borough has an established policy on the flying of flags which the council is responsible for.
“The policy has been agreed by all parties represented on the council and at no point in the formulation of that policy had a request been made to me on the principal of taking into account former prime ministers.
“As such the policy is implemented as it stands,” he declared.
“Having a policy in place is important to ensure standards are upheld which do not bring the union flag or borough flag into question.
“Clearly if a sitting prime minister was to die in office regardless of political affiliation I would fully support the flying of the union flag at half-mast, so as to respect the office held rather than to make a judgement about an individual.
“You may as an individual pay your respects as you see fit and when considering those not currently holding public office I would say grief, sorrow or any other emotion recent events have generated is a matter for individuals and not something the council should get involved in.”
The flag outside the Saddleworth Civic Hall was flown at half-mast for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral as was the one at Uppermill Conservative Club, which are not under the responsibility of the borough council.
And after a short interval in Greenfield, noticed by some locals, the flag outside the Conservative Club there was also lowered.
Graham Sheldon, secretary at Greenfield Conservative Club and chairman at Uppermill, said: “There may have been a slight delay but the flags were lowered to the half-mast position at both clubs to mark the sad passing of one of the greatest leaders of our time.”