THE COUNCIL has moved to head off a row over which coat of arms is to be used in a Royal document that will mark Bangor being officially crowned with its new city status.
The dispute broke out when residents learned the borough’s crest was being incorporated into the official document, known as the Letters Patent, just three weeks before a civic reception marking the seaside town’s official upgrade to city status is due to be held.
However, many concerned residents have called for the former Bangor Borough Coat of Arms, that is believed to date back to 1951 and incorporates the historical figure of St Comgall and two dolphins to be used, stating that it is solely Bangor that has been awarded city status.
The seaside town was awarded city status to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee and an official conferment ceremony to present the Letters Patent to Mayor Karen Douglas will take place next month.
However, in a bid to address public concerns, the local authority has stepped in stating that the Bangor Borough Coat of Arms cannot be used as ‘this body is no longer in existence’ and it would be ‘inappropriate’ for the Letters Patent to refer to a non-existent body.
On the coat of arms dispute, the council has stated that the Ards and North Down Coat of Arms, that ‘illustrates some of the most historically significant features’ of the borough of Bangor and North Down including ‘the dolphins and St Columbines boat’ will be used.
In a further effort to appease concerned residents the council stated ‘additional illustrations of the Bangor Bell, the dolphin and a white dove representing St Columbanus’ will also feature on the Letters Patent document.
The Coat of Arms controversy has split opinion across local elected representatives, with some local councillors maintaining the Ards and North Down Coat of Arms was included to ‘soothe’ the simmering tensions between the formerly two separate areas of Ards and North Down.
Independent councillor Ray McKimm welcomed the council’s compromise move, stating it was the role of the local authority to listen to the views of its residents.
“We are here to serve, we are here to ask what people want, whether that is shaping the waterfront or how we embellish a letter going into a historical archive.
“It is up to people to make themselves heard and what they do can make a difference. It is a matter of speaking up and having your say.
He said: “People were saying they were unhappy with how we were going to embellish it. So how we should create it is to make a reflection of Bangor’s history including the Abbey and the Saints, we are trying to build a sense of pride. The whole tone around Bangor is starting to lift with the opening of the Court House and movement on Queen’s Parade.”
The Bangor Central councillor welcomed the inclusion of some of the symbology of the former Borough of Bangor Coat of Arms saying: “I said we have got to listen. A compromise is needed and that we should listen to the views of the community. This would be embellishing (the Letters Patent) with the symbology of Bangor including the Saints and the fish.”
Acknowledging the row took place against a the challenging backdrop of the energy crisis, Mr McKimm said: “The Letters Patent is a small thing, but it also big. It is one of those things that will go into that period in history, that will chart the history of Bangor.”