SCOTTISH independence supporters have accused East Lothian Council of being in breach of its own flag-flying protocol in Musselburgh.

They have written to council chief executive Angela Leitch to ask why the Union Flag was not accompanied by the Saltire on the adjacent pole at The Brunton Hall for about three months, only being reinstated last Friday.

Members of pro-independence group Yes Musselburgh also claimed the Saltire, which flies at Musselburgh Old Town Hall, has allowed to become a “torn rag” in contrast to the “immaculate Union Jack which flourishes at the Town House in Haddington”.

The local authority said it was replacing the weather-beaten Saltire at the Old Town Hall and that there had been an issue, since rectified, with "flag pole ropes jamming" at The Brunton. 

But Fraser McAllister, of Yes Musselburgh, which is open to everyone regardless of political persuasion, said of the "torn" Saltire at the Old Town Hall: “It’s an absolute disgrace and looks like it has been on the battlefield.”

He said members had complained to the council about “the unacceptable record” of flying the Saltire from Musselburgh’s town halls.

A former SNP councillor for the Musselburgh West ward, Mr McAllister said: “This disrespect to the Saltire and, by extension, the people of Musselburgh, has previously been reported yet persists. For example, at the start of the Riding of the Marches, the town’s most prestigious civic event, the requested replacement flag at the Old Town Hall was left tangled at half mast.

“We believe the council is inconsistent in supporting the National Flag Heritage Centre at Athelstaneford and celebrating the annual Saltire Festival while, in Musselburgh, failing daily to respect the actual flag and its own protocol.

“This county is the birthplace of our nation’s flag; consequently East Lothian Council has a greater responsibility than any other Scottish authority to maintain standards of dignity and equality.”

Wilma Veitch, convenor of Yes Musselburgh, added: “Large gleaming road signs on the Musselburgh boundaries show a Saltire, a bird of prey, the date 832 and a proud declaration: ‘Welcome to East Lothian Birthplace of Scotland’s Flag.’

“Why, then, is the Saltire at the old town hall a dirty rag while the one at the new town hall was, until Friday, missing for three months?”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “We adhere to a strict flag protocol. In recent weeks there has unfortunately been a problem with the flag pole ropes jamming. While rectifying this, we investigated whether there was an easier way of raising, lowering or indeed changing the flags without needing to use a cherry picker.

“We have now installed ladders so that staff can access the flagpoles more easily and the Saltire is again flying at the Brunton.

“We will also be arranging a replacement for the damaged Saltire at the Town Hall which, due to adverse weather and general wear and tear, has not been looking its best.”

Councillor Katie Mackie, Conservative member for Musselburgh, said: “It appears there was a problem which East Lothian Council has rectified. The Union Flag belongs to Britain, the Saltire to Scotland. The vast majority of us are proud to fly both, as proud patriots, recognising Scotland’s important place within the United Kingdom.”

Musselburgh’s Labour councillor Andy Forrest, Depute Provost of East Lothian, declined to comment.