Thurrock UKIP leader sets record straight on “flags controversy”

AFTER all the controversy over “The Flags”, there is one person who has remained silent on the matter. That person is the actual leader of Thurrock UKIP, cllr Graham Snell.

Perhaps he has been silent because, no-one had asked him for his opinion. So, YT got in contact with cllr Snell and asked him of this take on a small matter that has ended up making very large ripples.

Cllr Snell said: “I think it is important to highlight that putting up the flags was not a UKIP initiative. It was a joint venture between the Nicky Mason Memorial Fund and the Aker Foundation and so was not within the compass of the UKIP Council Group leadership.

“From a personal point of view, I liked the flags. I thought they brightened the borough up a bit and the response they generated from residents was overwhelmingly positive.

“I only became involved on the weekend before the flags came down and only then because of some rather heated comments put out on social media.

“It was the furore on social media that led me to have several long conversations with senior officers to establish just what had happened to generate such strong feelings.

“As is often the case, the story is one of poor communication. The request to raise the flags was made over two applications by the Aker Foundation. Both applications had a start date and a termination date. The Council made it clear that, as with any such application, they would only deal with the applicant, in this case Tim Aker MEP.

“The flags went up as agreed. The first application (for the flags in Civic Square, Tilbury) terminated before November 11th but the Council, rather graciously in my view, agreed that they could fly until some time after the end of the remembrance day services. At this stage, all the parties involved should have agreed a new termination date for the flags, they didn’t. I believe the intention was to lodge another application to carry on flying the flags once the Council had advised the new termination date.

The Council then duly sent out an email to advise the flags would be coming down but they didn’t send it to Tim Aker MEP as agreed and, consequently, by the time it did reach Tim it was too late to do anything about it. It was that crucial piece of communication going awry that led to the anger that was subsequently seen on social media. That doesn’t justify any of it though and I found some of the comments deplorable.

I must make it quite clear that I don’t believe the Council did very much wrong here. Quite the contrary, they were extremely helpful in the first instance during the application process and they did not have to agree to let the flags fly beyond the termination dates on the applications, but they did.

“I have spoken to those who commented on social media and made it very clear that they were wrong to say some of the things they did. I do not expect a repeat.

“I do not consider that my Group is at loggerheads with the Council. We continue to play an active part in everything that goes on and we have good relationships with the officer corps.

“As for your question on whether there are two UKIP’s, well we all come from very different backgrounds and sometimes we have different ideas on how to achieve the same thing so we sit down and talk things through to agree a plan of action. I can see how that might sometimes come across as a bit different to what you often see with the other two parties locally but I can assure you we are a highly united and highly motivated group looking forward to carrying on our good work for the residents of Thurrock in 2017!”

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