A ROW has erupted after Labour councillors demanded the Euro-pean flag is hung in the new council chamber.

But Basildon Council's ruling Tories are refusing to display the European symbol in the new meeting room, called St George's Suite, amid claims it is meaningless.

Council leader Malcolm Buckley even dismissed the flag as a "blue duster" and said it would stay in storage.

But Basildon Labour group leader Lynda Williams wants it back.

She said: "The council has hung the European flag in the council chamber for several years. There is no reason why this should not continue."

She said it was "two faced" of the Conservatives to jet to Cannes in the south of France and try to lure foreign investment to Basildon without recognising the benefits of being in Europe. She added: "The council, residents and local voluntary groups benefit from European funding.

"This should be recognised rather than ignored."

However, Mr Buckley said the flag would not be returning and the St George's Cross had replaced it alongside the Union flag and a portrait of the Queen.

He added: "We feel it is more appropriate for a council to proudly fly the St George's Cross 365 days a year.

"The fact the room is named after St George makes this much more appropriate than a blue duster which means nothing to any nation.

"It is much more appropriate for a council to keep things local. Europe's not a nation, but a conglomeration of countries."