On Thursday the Filey Bay 1779 Group hoisted the flag of Kirkcudbrightshire in the Memorial Gardens to celebrate emerging links between Filey and the Scottish county that is home to the John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum. The museum has significant backing from American benefactors and the flying of the flag in Filey is the first step in building a potentially lucrative John Paul Jones tourism trail from south western Scotland to Filey.
The Filey branch of the British Legion operate the flagpole and they had given their permission to fly the flag. Indeed, two of their members were on hand to help with a small ceremony that quickly attracted a curious crowd. We are informed that within minutes of the flag being unfurled a Filey Town Councillor appeared saying that they had not been consulted and that the flag might have to be removed. But, as the town clerk was on annual leave, organising a meeting would take some time.
Then a couple of hours later Scarborough Borough Council ordered the removal of the flag because it had not been officially sanctioned. Apparently a committee of councillors would have to approve the flag and this would take between four to six weeks. Undoubtedly there would be risk assessments or some such to be carefully considered.
A director of the Filey Bay 1779 Group, the well-known and respected local businessman James Hodgson, accepted that the mix up was entirely his fault. He wrote: ‘I had not appreciated that it was such a lengthy and formal process to apply for permission to fly the flag in the Memorial Gardens. Apologies to all concerned’.
It was all rather unfortunate given that the story had been featured in the Scarborough News and had attracted scores of likes and hundreds page views via various social media outlets. Indeed, our own report of the hoisting of the flag was read by over 1,000 people within twenty-four hours.
Undoubtedly, the Filey Bay 1779 Group had jumped the gun and perhaps were naive to the machinations of local government, but the sudden removal of a hardly controversial flag, seemed unnecessary.
Coming in the wake of problems caused to last month’s Food Festival, when a councillor tabled last-minute concerns, accusations of a fixation with process over progress might have gained some traction. However, fortunately, happily, a pragmatic resolution to the flag has been found as the owner of the White Lodge Hotel, Bill Rusling, has offered to fly the Kirkcudbrightshire flag from the hotel’s flagpole.