Lib Dems in Three Rivers instal first Progress Pride flag crossing

Visitors to Leavesden Country Park in Hertfordshire will have the chance to cross on the first Progress Pride flag in the country. Former Council Leader Sara Bedford set this project in motion before she stepped down

The Progress Pride flag incorporates additions to the traditional rainbow flag to make it more inclusive and intersectional. The addition of black, brown, pink, blue and white stripes shows solidarity with trans people and people of colour.

Earlier this year, Sutton Lib Dem Councillor Jake Short wrote on this site about the rainbow and trans flag crossings now in place in Sutton.

He said:

In taking on the project, we were all extremely conscious of the strain places on council finances after a decade of austerity- so funding for the project could not come from existing allocated budgets, as that would mean less to spend on vital services. Instead, we found a small pot of funding within the Highways department earmarked for miscellaneous use meaning the project wouldn’t be taking away funding for other projects, or road repairs. While not enough to make these sorts of projects a regular occurrence, it was felt that this instance the small expenditure (accounting for 0.02% of our annual budget) was justified given the prominence of the location and importance of the message it sends.

While in Sutton getting the crossings installed was very much a case of pushing against an open door, that doesn’t mean that councillors elsewhere can’t push to get these really visible projects done.

Colleagues elsewhere like Cllr Huw James in North Somerset have used petitions and very public pressure to show just how wide public support there is for these projects to help convince officers to work on them. That kind of action can go quite far in showing that these visible statements of support for our minority communities aren’t simply there to placate groups but are widely supported schemes that can help to make clear just how open and welcoming the communities we serve actually are.

Our minority communities needs our open support, especially in the face of attacks and obfuscation from our Government around the Gender Recognition Act, hesitance around banning conversion therapy. While those of us elected to councils- and even those of us fortunate enough to be running those councils- can’t directly change those things, we can show our communities that regardless of this Government’s dithering, we are on their side.

When there is so much hostility to these marginalised communities in the media, these crossings are a very tangible sign that Government supports them.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Suzanne Fletcher 22nd Nov '21 - 11:31am

    Well done. it takes being a Liberal Democrat Councillor to a different level from mending the road, to highlighting our values.
    the potholes and cracked pavements do have to be repaired of course, and it is part of building trust in the community, but it doesn’t end there.

  • I was rather hesitant to respond to this piece, but thought it was important to make the following point. Whilst I entirely applaud the intention behind installing these Progress Pride flag crossings there is an unfortunate unintended consequence which in my view is extremely important and currently being ignored. As someone who is totally blind the colour of a crossing is entirely irrelevant to me, being reliant on the tactile paving to locate the crossing. However, to all my friends who have limited vision the colour is fundamentally important to them being able to safely cross a road. Traditionally a high contrast has been used so that people with little vision can distinguish between the regular pavement and the area around the point at which pedestrians are able to cross. If this high contrast is removed and replaced with a mixture of colours it will be far harder to locate for someone that has poor sight. I need not point out the consequence of crossing at the wrong point.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Nov '21 - 4:16pm

    @ Yousuf,
    I am afraid that virtue signalling is more important than the safety of the blind and partially sighted, issues such as the potential effect on blind dogs.etc.. have been raised.

    Warnings given by the National Institute for the blind and disability groups, were ignored when coloured crossings were painted in Tavistock Place. They provided a great photo opportunity though

    More confirmation if needed, that the disabled and something as fundamental as their safety, is not the predominant priority.

  • Matt Wardman 22nd Nov '21 - 5:55pm

    It is disappointing that these features continue to appear. They need to continue to be called out.

    I do not understand the perceived need to ‘celebrate’ ‘diversity’ in a way that makes life more difficult for marginalised members in our communities, by obfuscating crossings for visually handicapped people in our communities, adding confusing art to real ones, or creating features passed-off as real crossings where pedestrians are mislead into believing they have crossing rights that they do not.

    AIUI organisations concerned with accessibility have formally expressed serious concern, for example this letter from the Access Association to Ministers:

    If a group of activists decides to spend tax money on virtue-signalling artworks, I’d say that that is between them and their voters. But FFS do it in a way that does not threaten public safety.

    Stop it before someone is killed or injured in an unnecessary collision.

    I’d encourage those doing this to think about all the people in their local community, and spend the 10k->15k these features cost on something that benefits everyone. Be creative.

  • Helen Dudden 23rd Nov '21 - 12:40pm

    I would add being disabled is not a confidence builder. I have children, and talking to someone recently about my grandchild, they stated, you have children? Yes I do, please change the subject. Asking someone to distance they were very close, I shouldn’t be out came the reply.
    Disability is not a confidence builder!

  • Two articles in 6 months on LibDemVoice proudly proclaiming how LibDem councils have wasted money on this kind of silly virtue-signalling that, as others have pointed out, can actually make life harder for some groups of people.

    The purpose of councils is surely to provide good services to residents and local businesses. A quick Google suggests that the LibDems currently control 27 councils. Can none of those councils boast examples of working or doing something innovative to actually provide better services or to improve the environment in some way within their tight budgets? I’d have thought that’s what we should be seeing, if having a LibDem council is worth while.

  • Yusuf Osman 26th Nov '21 - 9:51am

    I thought people might find the below of interest. I’m left wondering how the Equality Impact Assessment didn’t pick up on this in the first place and whether the particular council referred to in the original piece on here might not have to reconsider the crossing.

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