The leader of Bromley Council has played down calls for a rainbow flag to fly over the civic centre.

Council leader Colin Smith said a traditional Union flag instead represents all Bromley residents at all times.

Some councils, including nearby Bexley and Greenwich, fly rainbow flags to mark the LGBT+ community during Pride.

Bromley traditionally has a Union flag hoisted above the civic centre, but also marks Armed Forces day by raising the Armed Forces flag.

Cllr Smith told the chamber that maintaining a Union flag, which he said represents everyone, should take precedence.

MORE Beckenham police condemn racism as dispersal zone issued in Beckenham

He said: “I would offer the view that practice and tradition formed over the years that the Union flag, or on special event days the cross of St George or the Armed Forces flag, best serves the choice of flag to be flown over the Civic Centre given it’s overarching symbolism for all Bromley residents.”

Councillor Simon Jeal, who raised the issue, pressed the leader on whether there could be a change in tradition.

He said: “Flags are an important symbol. The pride flag is a important symbol for the LGBT+ community – do you not think that if the council were not to pay towards the cost then it would be appropriate to have that flag flying during Pride?”

The leader responded: “On a personal note I think the Union flag is the correct flag to fly over the Civic Centre. I wouldn’t change the current process per choice.

“I think it is important that we always represent all residents of the borough. Our representation and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community is encapsulated in every policy and action we take in the committees of this council.

“That is where the evidence is. My personal view is that equality is best demonstrated by what joins us rather than perhaps what divides us.”

The rainbow flag has been used to represent the LGBT community since the late 70s.