Published: 21/11/2014 14:25 - Updated: 21/11/2014 14:28

Victory for Caithness flag drive

Written byWill Clark

FlagCAITHNESS will become the first mainland county in Scotland to have an official flag and the public will decide what it will be!

North of Scotland Newspapers (NOSN) succeeded in its Fly the Flag for Caithness campaign after Highland Council leaders gave the green light to the project which was endorsed by all 10 Caithness councillors.

With the assistance of the chief heraldic authority, the Lord Lyon, and the UK Flag Institute, permission has been given for a competition which will be promoted in the Caithness Courier and John O’Groat Journal.

The council’s leaders held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposal and took little time to offer their seal of approval.

Highland Council has also agreed for the winning flag to be flown from council buildings in Caithness, which the authority will pay for from its ward discretionary budgets.

As the winning design will be registered with the Flag Institute businesses and individuals will be free to use it, paying for their own flags to be manufactured.

Caithness councillors will discuss next week how to proceed with the competition, which is expected to launch shortly.

Caithness and Sutherland area leader Deirdre Mackay, as depute leader of the council’s Labour group, was part of the meeting which gave the project the green light.

Council leader Drew Hendry, depute SNP leader Richard Laird, council Lib Dem leader David Alston and council Labour leader Jimmy Gray also gave unanimous support for the competition to go ahead.

Mrs Mackay, councillor for East Sutherland and Edderton, who was brought up in Thurso, said as a native Caithnessian she was proud to help fly the flag for the area.

“The Caithness flag project and the public competition received the whole-hearted support of Highland Council,” she said.

“The proposal came with the endorsement of all Caithness councillors so the council leaders were unanimous in supporting this proposal as the leaders appreciate the uniqueness of Caithness in the Highland Council area.

“Highland Council leaders were extremely supportive of the public competition as it will give people true ownership of a symbol which represents Caithness.”

Caithness ward manager David Sutherland, who has been in discussions with the Lord Lyon and Flag Institute over the last few months, yesterday confirmed NOSN’s campaign has been given the go-ahead.

“The decision of Highland Council will be put to the local members who will discuss how the competition will progress to the next stage and how it will be run,” he said. “The decision is final and means we have full permission from Highland Council to proceed with the public competition.

“After asking the public for design ideas, a deadline will be set for entries and an invited panel will judge all the entries and create a shortlist.”

Councillors will discuss if the competition will be decided by a public vote or by a selected panel but all entries will be considered.

Mr Suther-land said that other areas have taken notice of the campaign and are investigating how to establish their own county flags.

The Courier and Groat began the campaign in May following an article about Wick student Alan MacDonald who came up with the flag idea after visiting Orkney which has its own flag.

With Mr MacDonald’s backing, the NOSN campaign was launched and after gaining widespread support from the public and over 20 organisations in Caithness, councillors endorsed the project in August.

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