An open competition to design a brand new and distinctive flag for East Lothian has been launched.
Run jointly by East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust, in association with the Lord Lyon and East Lothian Courier, the competition is open to anyone and is free to enter.
Having a distinctive new civic flag for East Lothian will allow individuals and groups across the county to express pride in their local community, to celebrate their heritage and help raise recognition and awareness of East Lothian nationwide.
East Lothian Council Provost John McMillan
The closing date for entries is 28 February 2018, so there is plenty of time for individuals and groups with artistic or creative skills to work up their submissions.
East Lothian Council Provost John McMillan, said:
“Having a distinctive new civic flag for East Lothian will allow individuals and groups across the county to express pride in their local community, to celebrate their heritage and help raise recognition and awareness of East Lothian nationwide. I think this competition will capture the imagination of many people and will attract a great deal of interest from across the county as well as further afield. I’m particularly keen for our schools to get involved too and I very much look forward to seeing all the entries as I’m sure they’ll be varied and inspiring.”
David Williamson, Chair of the Scottish Flag Trust, said:
"What makes this initiative particularly special is the collaborative working between East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust along with the support and guidance of the Lord Lyon. We are hopeful that this competition, followed by a public vote, will deliver a new flag that will reflect the county and be welcomed by everyone."
Most people are aware that flags, whether national, territorial or corporate, come in a multitude of colours and designs, that they can be a powerful symbol of identity and that they are often linked to the history of the area or to ideals and aspirations.
What is perhaps less known is that there has been a growing trend for flags to be designed for civic areas. In the UK almost 100 counties, cities or towns now have their own distinctive flag, recent examples in Scotland being Orkney (2007), Kirkcudbrightshire (2016) and Caithness (2016).
At present East Lothian does not have a flag of its own, though the county is of course associated with the St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire – East Lothian being well known as the birthplace of Scotland’s flag.
The published guidelines provide a great deal of advice to aspiring flag designers. There is emphasis on the need to keep any design simple, not to use too many colours or any words or be as intricate as a formal coats of arms. The guidance asks that the design should try to be recognisable and reflect East Lothian as a whole.
Once the competition deadline of 28 February has passed, an assessment panel will meet to consider all the submitted designs, with a view to selecting a small number of the very best designs. The panel will comprise the Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian and representatives from the Court of the Lord Lyon, East Lothian Council, the Scottish Flag Trust and the East Lothian Courier.
In line with best practice, there will then be a public vote on the short-listed designs. All East Lothian residents will then have the opportunity to vote on the flag they believe to be the best. Details of how to vote will be widely advertised in advance.
After the votes are counted, the winning design will be submitted to the Lord Lyon’s office to allow it to be officially registered, a process that can take some months. Finally, it is hoped that the winning design, the new civic flag for East Lothian, will be unveiled in November 2018 at a public event. The new flag will then be available for everyone to use.