LIBERAL Democrats in Abingdon are flying the rainbow flag in the run-up to the town’s first ever Pride festival.

Following local elections the Lib Dems are now in charge of the town council and one of the group’s first decisions was to fly the rainbow flag.

The move reverses a decision in 2016 by the previous Tory-run administration to refuse permission for the flag to be flown.

Council leaders at the time cited policy limiting the council to flying approved flags including the Union Flag and the town crest.

The rainbow flag was flown at the weekend to coincide with Oxford Pride and it will be flown on Saturday, June 22 when the Pride festival will be held in the market place.

READ AGAIN: Councillors justify rejecting gay pride rainbow flag

Town councillor Andy Foulsham said: “I am delighted that we are flying the rainbow flag - it’s a message of inclusivity, acceptance and diversity in the town.

“There have been a huge number of positive comments since the flag has been flown and we are looking forward to the Pride festival.

“This is the right way forward - it sends a message to our LGBTQ friends and neighbours that they are a valued and loved part of the community.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Foulsham said according to protocol other flags would fly on certain dates, including on the Queen’s official birthday on Saturday.

Samantha Bowring was leader of the opposition in 2016 when a bid to fly the rainbow flag caused controversy.

Now council leader, she said: “I proposed we should fly the flag and I thought it would be a straightforward request that would go through.

“Most towns now fly the rainbow flag and we will fly it again in the week running up to Abingdon Pride when there will be music in the market place and other events.

“This is about saying ‘in Abingdon we accept everybody’.

Oxford Mail:

“We want to say that everyone who lives in Abingdon is valued and as a town and as a council we want to support everyone - it should not be an issue.”

Fellow town councillor Neil Fawcett said the flag issue was raised by voters on the doorstep before the local elections on May 2.

Mazz Image, a director of Oxford Pride, said: “We are delighted that Abingdon is joining towns around Oxfordshire flying the rainbow flag.

READ AGAIN: Oxford Pride 2019 - as it happened

“We hope as many people as possible will be in Abingdon on June 22 to celebrate the LGBTQI community.”

There are no longer any Tories on the town council.