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Police investigation into Hythe Town Council Pride Flag drama

A police investigation has been launched as a dispute surrounding Hythe Town Council’s flying of a Pride flag took another turn.

Members of the council and Folkestone Pride were at the town hall on Sunday to see the raising of the rainbow flag after a row over access to the flagpole last week.

There was an impromptu ceremony to fly the pride flag last month
There was an impromptu ceremony to fly the pride flag last month

Just as the flag for Armed Forces Day was due to be taken down and the Pride flag raised, council members discovered the flag rope had been cut, preventing any flags from being flown.

On June 11, the council had voted to fly the flag for the first time in its history and it was to remain in place for the whole of Pride month and only to be taken down to fly the armed forces flag.

In an extraordinary general meeting, the motion was passed by nine votes to seven.

However, council members found access was blocked to the flag pole when the gates to an alleyway that leads to it were padlocked shut.

This resulted in Mayor Naomi Slade and other councillors deciding to hold an impromptu ceremony, with the flag flown from one of the office windows instead.

"It certainly comes across as homophobic"

Cllr Angela Dickinson said of the latest incident: “The plan was to take the flag rope around the building to a new place where the flag could be flown. However, the rope had been cut and now nobody can fly any flags at all.

“It felt embarrassing and we are all angry over the situation.

“It certainly comes across as homophobic even if that wasn’t the intention of whoever cut the rope.”

An announcement by Folkestone Pride said that the incident “could be interpreted as negativity towards the LGBTQIA+ community”.

A spokesman said: “We are saddened by the events at Hythe Town Council but have also been blown away by some of the support we have received by helpful local politicians.

The flag pole rope has been cut, preventing any flags from being flown
The flag pole rope has been cut, preventing any flags from being flown

“We know they will be following this up, as will Kent Police.

“We would hope, that in 2020, discrimination and oppression of the LGBTQIA+ community might be a thing of the past but this episode shows us that we still have a long way to go.

“It is a shame that this event has blighted Pride for the area.”

The issue has been reported to police and it is understood officers are investigating it as a case of criminal damage.

A police spokesman said: “Kent Police was called at 8.10am on Sunday, June 28 to a report of criminal damage in High Street, Hythe.

The armed forces flag was found to be cut down
The armed forces flag was found to be cut down

“It was reported that a rope attached to a flag pole had been cut, preventing it from being used to fly flags."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/110528/20.

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe


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