John Newth, editor of 'Dorset Life', writes:
It was in October 2006 that I wrote an article in 'Dorset Life', pressing for a flag for Dorset. I intended to do something practical about it but the time-consuming routine of producing a monthly magazine meant that it stayed on the back burner. The County Council was also dragging its feet.
So I was delighted when Dave White produced and promoted a suggested design. It has been generally well received, which is both a tribute to Dave's design and evidence of the need for a county flag. The drawback is that it has not really gone through any sort of county-wide democratic process: obviously it is desirable for as many people as possible to express an opinion.
What is an 'official' county flag? There is no definition in law, but the Flag Institute (an independent body which advises the government - and countries throughout the world - on flags) is keeping a National Registry of County Flags.
No-one (including the County Council) wants the County Council to impose a flag on the people of Dorset, but it took the initiative of inviting designs from anyone in the county via the press. 29 were received.
The County Council then set up a panel to choose a shortlist of four. On the panel were the Vice-Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff, the editors of the 'Dorset Echo' and 'Dorset Life' and two representatives from Dorset's youth parliament. It was chaired by the Chief Vexillologist (flag expert) from the Flag Institute. If you think that the composition of the panel was not perfect, remember that they were only making a shortlist and not a final decision. It is reasonable to assume that the County Council will endorse the chosen design and that it will be flown on all public buildings in the county, but no member or officer of the County Council had any influence whatsoever on the shortlist decision.
The panel chose four designs, one of which was Dave White's. Voting, which will start in early August and go on to mid-September, can be done via the 'Dorset Echo', 'Daily Echo', 'Dorset Life' or the County Council website (although the County Council will not be involved in counting votes) or by email to the Flag Institute. Voting slips will also be distributed widely via libraries, school, parish councils etc and at the County Show. There will be precautions against multiple voting.
The aim is to arrive at a single county flag on which as many people in the county as possible have had a chance to vote: a flag of which we can all be proud.