A COUNCIL’S refusal to purchase two flags to fly on the day of the annual Durham Pride has been met with “disappointment” and “surprise” by the LGBT+ community.

Great Aycliffe Town Council rejected a proposal calling on the authority to pay out £50 for the rainbow flags in order to fly them at its offices and Newton Aycliffe town centre on the one-day event.

Durham Pride chairman, Mel Metcalf, said the council’s decision demonstrated a lack of support for equality, diversity and inclusivity while councillors who backed the motion condemned the opposition.

Cllr Kathy Beetham, who put forward the motion, said: “Flying a rainbow flag is a small gesture - a gesture made frequently by other councils across the UK, including Durham County Council, without any controversy. It’s a small but important gesture as it visibly acknowledges our LGBT+ community and the contribution they make to our community of which we are proud.”

Among those to oppose the motion was Cllr Arun Chandran who stated that he believed all humans were equal and that flying the rainbow flag would separate the LGBT+ community out as “separate from the rest of us”. Cllr Chandran warned approving the motion could set a precedent for other groups and asked if there were flags for “single mothers, widows, disabled, elderly”. He added: “Once you insist on recognising every group possible, and dividing people into separate groups where do you stop, who is not deserving of a flag?”

Other objectors included Cllr Ken Robson, who opposed £50 of the council’s money being spent when a local play area had been delayed over tightening finances, and Cllr Eddy Adam, who said he was not against flying celebratory flags but believed the council should adopt a flag-flying policy which would review applications as and when they came through. However, despite a suggestion that a member of public would be prepared to cover the flag costs themselves the motion was scrapped.

The meeting on Wednesday recorded a named vote which resulted in seven for, 17 against and one abstention.

Mr Metcalf said the authority needed to “wake up” to the county’s estimated 25,000 LGBT+ community.

“It’s one day a year for the LGBT+community to be seen and recognised,” he added. “The flag actually represents a community that lives in Newton Aycliffe. We probably voted these councillors in.”