No solidarity with any regime

Alastair Lings (letters, March 20) believes that the policy of Scottish Borders Council is to fly national flags only. He is incorrect in his belief.

The council has a flag protocol which details the occasions on which flags will be flown on public buildings. That protocol does not restrict the flags which can be flown to only national flags. For example, the Armed Forces Day flag and the European flag are also flown each year.

The protocol does, however, state that requests from special interest groups to have their flags flown from council buildings will generally be refused.

The flying of the Commonwealth flag on March 10 was at the request of the Commonwealth Secretary General, supported by HM the Queen.

This “Fly a Flag” event was an opportunity for communities across the 54 member countries to mark Commonwealth Day and to celebrate locally the success of the organisation across the globe. In the UK alone that day there were more than 500 Commonwealth flags raised by local authorities and community groups.

Before a large gathering, including local schoolchildren, the following Commonwealth Affirmation which supports and promotes freedom, understanding and respect was read aloud by the Lord Lieutenant:

“Joining together as members of one worldwide Commonwealth community, and valuing the personal dignity and worth of every citizen, we raise this flag as a symbol of the ties of kinship and affinity that we cherish.

“We draw inspiration from our diversity, and the opportunities for working together, as a rich source of wisdom and a powerful influence for good in the world.

“We affirm our commitment to upholding the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, to serving one another in a spirit of respect and understanding, and to advancing development, democracy and cooperation locally, nationally and internationally.”

And I responded by saying:

“Our pledge is to support the Commonwealth, working together for a future in which there is freedom and justice and prosperity for all, with peace and understanding between peoples and nations.”

It was not then and never has been the council’s intention to show solidarity with any regime from another nation.

I hope that is a helpful clarification for both Mr Lings and your readers.

Graham Garvie

(convener, Scottish Borders Council)