Why Scotland is still perfectly entitled to fly the Flag of Europe – John McLellan

The Flag of Europe represents the Council of Europe, which will still include the UK after Brexit, writes John McLellan.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:40 am
The Scottish Saltire and the EU flag outside the Scottish Parliament (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Like many readers I was somewhat bemused by the furore over whether to fly the European flag outside the Scottish Parliament. The ring of stars is indeed the symbol of the European Union which we leave tomorrow, but in 1955 it was first unveiled as the flag of the Council of Europe and still is.

Founded by the 1949 Treaty of London, it has 47 member states and is responsible for the European Court of Human Rights, neither of which we are leaving. Only Belarus, Kosovo and the Vatican City are not members.

So as nothing is changing as far as the Council of Europe is concerned, the SNP seeking to overturn a non-political decision to fly it only on Europe Day (May 9) was just stoking a row for the sake of it. They can hoist whatever they want when the Sick Kids opens.

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Leisure cuts force heads over parapet

Most of the senior officials who run Edinburgh Council’s arms-length organisations are very careful not to upset administration big-wigs; even when he knew his number was up, the ex-Marketing Edinburgh chief John Donnelly remained remarkably restrained and Lothian Buses chief Richard Hall has kept his head down as the council drives forward threat after threat to his company’s viability.

So it must have come to something when the Edinburgh Leisure chief June Peebles encouraged customers to contact their councillors to let them know how much Edinburgh Leisure’s services mean. Or perhaps a potential £500,000 reduction in the council’s service payment is more than just scaremongering.

Tiff over EICC plans

Word reaches us of a spat within the council administration over the Edinburgh International Conference Centre’s plans to run a hotel and hospitality school which will help it attract new business as well as create a high-quality training facility for the tourism industry.

Like Lothian Buses, it has become a self-sustaining jewel in the council’s crown, but similarly there is a danger it becomes a political football just at the point where it could really begin to motor.