A right royal rumpus over wedding day flags

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A MATLOCK community arts group has snubbed the royal wedding – claiming they will not support the town’s celebration because they are republicans.

Shocked town councillors had invited Matlock Live to join in the festivities on the extra April bank holiday by putting up flags in Hall Leys Park but the group declined the offer because members were anti the monarchy.

At a meeting in the Imperial Rooms on Monday town councillors slammed the community arts group’s attitude.

Cllr David Barker said: “This is just not acceptable to refuse on that basis. I’m not happy about this at all.

“What is their purpose? They don’t seem to have any real concern for the town.”

He added: “They seem to have their own agenda when they should have an agenda for the town, not themselves.

“I recognise their right to be republicans but that should not be a reason for not providing some thing in the park for the wedding. It is a national event that is worthy of celebration.”

But one of the directors community arts group, which has been running for around eight years, said his words had been taken out of context.

Phil Askham said: “I do have strong personal views and did make some comments that I wish I had not.”

The group has also been given a grant from the disbanded Matlock Flags and Banners Group of around £1,000 – which town councillors hoped could be put towards decorating the park for the wedding but Mr Askham says it could be better spent on providing art workshops.

Mr Askham said: “We do have to be careful about our members’ views. In particular what the money is for, where it has come from and what we do with it to achieve our mission. We want to use the money from the Flags and Banners Group to best affect and maximum impact and we hope to put on workshops rather then rushing to do something for the Royal wedding.”

Catherine Rawas, the town council’s community and development officer, said in a report to the authority: “Matlock Live were invited to put together some event creating outdoor decorations but they have declined to be involved in the celebration events for the Royal wedding on the basis that the members of Matlock Live are republicans.”

Matlock mayor Steve Flitter said he was ‘taken aback’ by the group’s response. I’m proud to be British. This statement does dim my view of the group a little bit.”