SCHOOLS will be encouraged to fly the Union flag and ask pupils to sing the national anthem during assemblies, councillors have decided.
The patriotic motion, put forward by Bradshaw councillor Mudasir Dean, was approved by a majority at a town hall meeting last night despite reservations that it was an unnecessary addition to the school day and ‘un-British’.
Conservative Cllr Dean urged councillors to vote for it as a way of helping immigrants integrate into British life, instil national pride in the town’s youth and stop the county’s flag being associated with far-right groups.
He said: “Some of us feel English, some of us Scottish, Irish, Welsh, some a bit Lancastrian and some even a sense of European.
“But if there is one lone symbol, one flag, that ties us together I believe it is Great Britain and the flag would be the Union Jack.”
But Cllr Chris Peacock — while saying he has no ideological problem to the scheme — said the flag "meant more to him" when saved for special occasions.
“It’s more special because we don’t see it everywhere”, he added.
“I can’t see why we need to do this, I don’t feel that we should be mandating to schools and I wonder whether this should be priority for this council and for the town’s education.”
The Labour group were instructed to "vote with their conscience", according to leader of the council Cllr Cliff Morris. He voted for the motion.
In total, 34 voted for the motion, while there were 11 abstentions, and four voted against it.
Throughout the debate accusations flew across the floor that the motion was politically-motivated and would stretch already tight school budgets.
Cllr David Greenhalgh, leader of the Conservatives, defended the motion — saying there was no obligation on schools to fly the flag or sing the anthem every day, and lambasted claims that outright patriotism was not part of British culture.
“Given an excuse, this country is patriotic”, he said.
“What better way to set an example, to share that pride in our nation, than with our young people and in our schools?”
- See our live coverage of last night's meeting here.