Concern about half-mast Thatcher tribute

The Union Flag on Morpeth Clock Tower flies at half mast as a tribute to Margaret Thatcher.
The Union Flag on Morpeth Clock Tower flies at half mast as a tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

RESIDENTS have hit out at a prominent town tribute to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In a letter to the Herald, 15 residents have complained about the flying of the Union Flag at half-mast at the top of Morpeth Clock Tower.

They say the tribute does not represent everyone in the town as Lady Thatcher was a divisive, controversial figure.

One of those who signed the letter, Bridget Gubbins, of Old Bakehouse Yard, said: “We just wanted to make our feelings known. We feel that nobody has asked us about it and we don’t know who decided to do it.

“It might represent a lot of people’s views, but not everybody’s.

“People might not have noticed because not everybody looks at the Clock Tower, but I always look to see the wind direction.”

Fellow objector Maureen Pearson, of Low Stobhill, said: “We were concerned about who made the decision because we don’t think the flag should be flying at half-mast.

“There is a concern that it is making this a big event. Yes Margaret Thatcher was a former Prime Minister, but this seems to be making her seem like someone bigger and better.

“A lot of people, particularly in this part of the world, have suffered badly as a result of her policies.

“It feels wrong that some people have made this decision without consulting. Probably more people would prefer the flag not to be flying at half-mast than those who would.”

The flag was flying at half-mast until after Lady Thatcher’s funeral yesterday.

Morpeth Town Council has had responsibility for flying the flag since 2009 when it took over the role from the former Castle Morpeth Council.

Clerk Gillian Turner said: “There are set protocols for flag flying, which we have observed.

“The protocol we have for flying the flag at half-mast is in the event of the death of a serving or ex-Prime Minister so it would happen for any ex-Prime Minister. It also goes down the ranks to civic officials.

“If the Queen is flying the flag at half-mast that gives the signal to everyone else. We did check and the flag was flying at half-mast at Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street.”