Eastbourne’s Conservatives have criticised a decision not to lower the Town Hall flag at half-mast following the death on Monday of former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Ian Lucas, chairman of the Eastbourne Constituency Conservative Association, said he was “astonished at the petty-minded attitude shown by this Liberal Democrat-run council” in declining to make the gesture.
However, a spokesman for the council said that they were governed by protocol, and that flags will be lowered to half-mast on Wednesday, April 17 - the date of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, after Buckingham Palace today decreed this should happen on public buildings.
Mr Lucas was adamant the gesture to lower the flags now would be well received by the public. He said: “A great many people in Eastbourne, whether they agreed with her politics or not, admired Margaret Thatcher as a brave and principled leader, who stood up for Britain, and who served her country with dedication for eleven and a half years as Britain’s first and only woman Prime Minister.
“The excuse that it is ‘not in accordance with protocol’ simply does not hold water and smacks of just the kind of jobsworth disregard that she herself despised.”
A spokesman for Eastbourne Borough Council pointed out that their approach was being followed by East Sussex County Council and other neighbouring districts.
He said: “The national protocol is that flags are only flown at half-mast on all public buildings across the country in the event of the death of a sovereign.
“In the case of all others, including Prime Ministers and ex-Prime Ministers, flags are only flown at half-mast on a national basis if the Queen declares an official period of mourning. This has not happened on this occasion.”