Flag Flying

Where arrangements exist to ensure that only essential staff are going to their place of work it is suggested that no one should be required specifically to travel to various buildings to lower flags to half-mast. If staff are resident on the premises where a flag is being flown and can lower it to half mast then by all means do so, but the health of the wider community outweighs the need ask staff to leave their homes and travel around to lower flags at other sites.

Books of Condolence

For the duration of the current emergency Councils may feel that it is not appropriate to open physical books of condolence. The only safe option is to use the online books of condolence where these are available.

Organisation of Local Events

The idea of bringing people together within their local communities is no longer possible. Councils may wish to postpone any plans that they have to hold events (including civic church services). You may wish to use social media to explain the events that you had planned and to say that arrangements will be made for this to happen when all movement restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.

It is hoped that television broadcasters will step in to fill gaps should the need arise.

Laying of Flowers and Donations

Clearly it is very difficult for members of the public to lay flowers and Councils may wish actively to discourage people from doing so. An alternative might be to suggest that people should make donations if they so wish. It needs to be made very clear that Councils do understand the enormous financial pressures that the current situation is placing on some people and that nobody should feel obliged to donate. (N.B. Buckingham Palace have confirmed this approach today.)

Social Media

Do think about ways in which to use social media:

• To express sadness at the loss of life;

• To explain that you had appropriate plans in place;

• To recognise that the preservation of life and the care and well-being of the living must take precedence over acts of mourning and the remembrance of those who have died;

• To notify people of the necessarily limited response you are making in the current situation;

• To reassure people that when restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so, there will be opportunities to come together to reflect and mourn.

In addition to the guidance given above, the following might be helpful.

Meetings of the Full Council

If there is to be a meeting of the full Council before the day of the funeral, your Mayor or Chairman might want to start the meeting with a short statement and a minute's silence. The statement might express sadness at The Duke's death and say that flags have been lowered to half-mast in the borough. If any members want to wear dark clothing or black ties that would be appropriate, but given the COVID restrictions the public will, it is hoped, understand that Councils are not able to do everything they might have wished.

Posted: Mon, 12 Apr 2021 11:23 by Alison Robinson

Tags: Death of a public figure, Guidance, News