Row as council 'turns its back' on the Queen

FOR many years a portrait of the Queen has hung in the chamber of a district council in Suffolk.

Anthony Bond

FOR many years a portrait of the Queen has hung in the chamber of a district council in Suffolk.

It had pride of place behind the chairman's seat at Mid Suffolk District Council, facing outwards to the councillors.

Recently however, a decision was taken to move the Head of State's portrait to a back wall and replace it with a modern art piece - but this has sparked controversy among some council members.

Conservative councillor Frank Whittle said: “Where the chairman sits the Queen is usually behind but the picture has been moved and put on a back wall and so most of the councillors have their backs to the Queen, which I do not think is right.

“I think it is unpatriotic. She is the country's figurehead and should be the figurehead of the council. If you go to America they have American flags flying everywhere and they would not move those so why should we move the Queen. Let us be patriotic.”

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The modern art piece which has replaced the Queen is called 'Traces' and was created by a local artist. There are three panels which refer to different ways of connecting with the wider world which have been important to the development of Mid Suffolk.

But it has left Mr Whittle, who represents Stowmarket North, distinctly unimpressed.

“They have put some psychedelic picture there now,” he said. “It is not to everybody's taste. I think that almost 70% of the councillors are over 50 and we are not into that sort of stuff. I would rather see the Queen back where she belongs.”

Despite Mr Whittle's disliking for the new art work, it has pleased other councillors.

Andrew Stringer, of the Green Party, said the current portrait of the Queen could be up to 20 years out of date. “I do not really think we should promote the Queen's image everywhere that we can and the decision that we came to was a good compromise,” said the Mendlesham councillor.

“I think lots of councillors would not have minded seeing the portrait disappear entirely. It is a modern piece of art which is rare. We could have fallen back on tried and tested but we tried something experimental.

“It is very interesting and easy to engage with and stimulates debate and tells the story of Mid Suffolk.”

Councillor Diana Kearsley, portfolio holder for the community, added: “The portrait of the Queen was covered most of the time during meetings when the projection screen was in use.

“We moved the portrait to another suitable wall in the council chamber and it is now visible all the time for all members and public to see.

“Before it was moved, I asked fellow councillors if they had concerns about this and the majority came back with no issues.”