I AM writing about the meeting of Glastonbury Town Council on Tuesday, April 8.
I had been invited to take part in a working group which had been formed in April 2013 to discuss the town’s Coat of Arms, and to make recommendations as to whether it should be changed.
The initial impetus for a proposed change was that the mitre and crossed crosiers, and also the motto displayed on it (Floreat Ecclesia Anglicana – May the Church of England Flourish), no longer represented a town in which a recent survey had found there were more than 70 faiths, and that only about half were Christians. This meant that the town council was in breach of its general duty to uphold equality legislation, in that the Coat of Arms just favoured one part of the community.
During the course of these discussions, the working group undertook historical research in which we talked to the College of Arms, the official body which issues Coats of Arms, and from this we found that the arms on the present mayoral chain for Glastonbury were unlawful and as such, are an offence to Her Majesty the Queen. The College of Arms recommended that the town council should apply to it for a legal Coat of Arms, and that to fail to do so would cause embarrassment to the Royal Family.
We took a lot of trouble in preparing our report so that council members would be able to appreciate the full story, and that they would realise that the present Coat of Arms was unlawful and un-inclusive. We also recommended that everyone in the town be consulted over what sort of Coat of Arms they’d like to see with, of course, the final decision about which design to send to the College of Arms remaining with the town council. In other words, Glastonbury Town Council would be in complete control of any changes at all times.
Why I’m writing this letter is because it was obvious to me from their presentations at the meeting on Tuesday that at least half the councillors had not even had the courtesy to read the report of the working group, because in their arguments, they were ‘tilting at windmills’ which did not exist. It appeared as if they had formed themselves into a cabal before they arrived that evening with a remit to kick the issue into the long grass, no matter what anybody else said. Their responses to the findings of the working group’s report were emotive, unreasonable, irrational and frankly, they behaved like children, tying themselves up in constitutional knots over their tabled amendment to merely ‘note’ instead of accept the recommendations, from which they had to be rescued by the town clerk. At times, I thought I was watching a comedy show – a sort of cross between Dad’s Army and Monty Python – but it was a shameful performance by some of our elected representatives and ultimately, I felt embarrassed for them.
I would like to know how much longer Glastonbury Town Council will continue with an un-inclusive, divisive and unlawful Coat of Arms. Or I’m wondering whether we will have to chuck out this sad and sorry lot at the next election and vote in others who will act in a rational and reasonable way, who will represent everyone in the town, not just a favoured few, and who, at the very least, will show respect for the Queen and the law of the land?