Let me explain what has happened concerning the Queen’s portrait. We have recently refurbished the council buildings at no extra cost to the council taxpayer including the council chamber. During this
process we have upgraded the IT systems as part of our unique and innovative partnership with the county council and BT. This has meant that several meetings are now conducted electronically and therefore
screens are required to assist with the various meetings that take place.
Had the portrait of Her Majesty been left in situ it would then have been covered up, an action that I deem to be highly disrespectful and unacceptable to any conservative voter. The portrait is not now in a central position in the chamber but still in a highly visible and prominent location. It is now much more visible from the public area and to some, but not all, councillors and the press gallery. There is no way the portrait of Her Majesty has been or will be relegated as long as we are in charge. The Greens would of course rather there was no portrait at all and have said so.
All councillors were asked for their opinion before any decision was made and a clear majority understood and accepted the reasons for this change. This discussion took place in August and it is somewhat
strange that this issue has been raised after an interval of several months. I don’t think Councillor Whittle has been to a full council meeting since then in any case. Councillor Whittle did express his concerns at the time which he is quite entitled to do. Freedom of speech in our Conservative group at Mid Suffolk has never been a problem and is one we encourage.
The artwork I accept is not quite to everyone’s choice. However, at the
unveiling ceremony (Councillor Whittle was not in attendance) the
artist explained how the three pictures encapsulated much of Mid
Suffolk’s heritage dating back to Roman times and is particularly
pertinent to the district. The work was generously commissioned and
sponsored by BT and the taxpayer incurred no expense.
Lastly, Conservative Home readers will be interested to know that one
of the first actions I took when I became leader just over two years
ago was to make sure that the union jack is flown every day from the
council’s flag pole. This took place before the redoubtable Andrew
Rosindell’s worthy campaign had come to our notice. The Liberals of
course wished to fly the EU flag and many other ensigns instead –
naturally we took no notice you will be pleased to hear.
I hope that everyone now understands all the facts. Nobody could be
more patriotic or a more active proponent for the Royal Family than
myself. For the record, I went canvassing in Ipswich for Ernie Money MP
in February 1974 at the age of 13 and have been an active Conservative