AFTER Bicester Town Council came under fire from residents for not flying the Pride flag last month, councillors will discuss at a later date when it can be raised.

People in the town debated on social media about whether the flag should be raised outside the council offices in Garth Park to mark Pride month.

An online petition - signed 396 times - was set up by 23-year-old Thomas Page, from Oxford, who grew up in Bicester, calling for the council to raise the flag and show its support for the LGBTQ+ community.

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He wrote: ‘The town council suggests Bicester as a place of tolerance and diversity in the UK.

“For the town council to not display this symbol of inclusion and acceptance, it indicates that there are some still in control who do not wish such virtues to be part of their town.”

However when it was shared on Facebook, Bicester Mayor Jason Slaymaker commented saying the reason why the council did not raise the flag was because it had not received any requests from the public.

Under the council’s policy, only three flags are constantly raised throughout the year: the Union Jack, St George’s Cross and the EU flag, which will be replaced with the council’s crest.

On special occasions, other flags are raised such as the Armed Forces flag and the British Legion. However, any others need to be requested and since the petition was shared on Facebook, the council has received emails from people about the topic.

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Mr Slaymaker said: “As we are now in July, the Pride flag will not be raised until the council have had an opportunity to discuss the matter in line with its current policy, which has not yet been possible unfortunately because of our committee schedule and the timing of planned meetings which were resumed only virtually on 16th June.”

Bicester residents on Facebook expressed their views about the Pride flag being raised.

Samantha Jane said: “Absolutely fly the flag. Why not? It isn’t offensive in any way so can’t see how it would upset anyone or go against anything.”

Another resident, Daniel Ballantyne said: “I think you will find the majority of people don’t care if you’re gay or straight. You are what you are.

"We don’t need Bicester town council flying the flag virtue signalling to appease the LGBTQ community.”

Bicester town councillor Richard Mould said: “The council supports the LGBTQ community. Bicester is a mixed community and that’s reflected in the town’s attitudes of most of the residents. We support all communities in Bicester without fear or favour.”