AN American citizen, who entered the Sutherland flag competition and followed the subsequent debacle with interest, has sent a message to local people.
The health care worker, who does not want to be named but has read about the controversy over the design online, has said the county should heed the mistakes made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In an email to The Northern Times, he wrote: “In the 1950s, Milwaukee held a flag design contest and instead of choosing a winner, they amalgamated their favourite designs onto one flag.
“It’s since been ranked one of the worst designed flags in the world.”
The correspondent said that an unofficial new flag had recently been designed for the city which was known as The People’s Flag of Milwaukee.
He wrote: “In recent years a designer took it upon himself to improve the flag and his new take has gathered a lot of public support but has yet to be officially adopted.
“The new flag perfectly captures the city’s atmosphere – it’s a calm, relaxing place on Lake Michigan where one can enjoy a beautiful summer sunset or sunrise over the water.
“Admittedly it’s a more American style of design, but this is a lesson of what could be when flags go horribly wrong or right.”
He added: “I truly feel for the residents of Sutherland, as the region is one of a kind and they deserve to have a flag they can be proud of. I hope they get what they want.”
Some 832 people have signed a petition on charge.org in opposition to the flag design – a swooping eagle and three stars on a red and yellow background, which detractors have derisively described as a “budgie”.
But Rogart merchant seaman Leslie Sharp, who started the petition, has yet to receive a response from the Lord Lieutenancy, organisers of the competition.
On Mr Sharp’s request, Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain has contacted the Lord Lieutenancy asking the group to acknowledge the strong feeling against the flag. We understand he has not received a reply
And it emerged this week that another politician has also agreed to contact the group following an approach by a constituent – Labour MSP David Stewart has also written to the Lord Lieutenancy.
However, in a statement to the Northern Times a fortnight ago, Vice-Lieutenant Colin Gilmour, spokesperson for the flag competition, said there was no intention to pedal back or rerun it.