THE Saltire and a new Angus flag are set to fly side by side after councillors voted through a compromise measure at an ill-tempered meeting last week.

Controversy has dogged the issue ever since the Angus Alliance proposed flying an 'Angus' flag from county buildings at the 'expense' of the Saltire.

But, following a massive outcry and the creation of a several thousand strong petition, the Alliance came back to the table last week with a compromise which would see the two flags flying side by side on the council's buildings.

However they had to endure spirited SNP opposition when voting through the new proposal - with the nationalists arguing that the measure would effectively relegate the Saltire to second-class status.

The SNP argued that the compromise - which would see a second flagpole erected at a number of sites - would still be reliant on planning permission being granted for the work.

And, with most of the buildings in question enjoying listed status, they argued the Saltire would not be flown if planning was not forthcoming.

They demanded that the second flagpole be used for the Angus flag, thereby ensuring the Saltire's continuous presence if planning fell through.

However, that argument was dismissed and an amendment by Councillor Glennis Middleton that the proposal be put out to public consultation was also voted down by 15 votes to 13.

Welcoming the compromise, council leader Bob Myles said: "I am very pleased to recommend the provision of an additional flagpole to accommodate the Scottish flag.

"Our decision to fly an Angus flag has created a lot of passion to fly the Saltire as well, though the majority of people wonder what all the fuss is about.

"We have considered the cost implication of this and found that a second flagpole could be erected at a reasonable cost," he added.

The cost - a projected 5000 - was another sticking point for the SNP, however, who argued that they had been unable to find any source as cheap as that during their own research.

Questioning the figures, Councillor Alex King argued the cost would rise.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see the costs double if not treble," he said.

"Work on our buildings has to be referred to the Scottish Executive and let's see what Historic Scotland have to say about designs for a second flagpole on listed buildings.

"It may well be the case that Historic Scotland turn around and say we can't have more than one flagpole on these buildings - and in that situation the Saltire is going to be hauled down," he added.

Meanwhile, Councillor West criticised the Alliance for under-estimating the strength of feeling the issue would raise, and stressed that the administration were ignoring the public's wishes out of fear of making a potentially damaging u-turn.

"The first rule of politics is that when you're in a hole, stop digging. This is the biggest hole I've known any group to be in. The Alliance don't seem to understand that they have a big Scottish tiger by the tail and they don't have the gumption to let go," he said.

However, Alliance councillors argued that the previous SNP-led council had failed to consult the public over the controversial "Scotland's Birthplace" strapline for the county, and again with the naming of William Wallace House in Forfar, and that they were hypocritical to argue for public opinions.

Despite the failed amendment and another unsuccessful amendment by Councillor Sheena Welsh that a third flagpole be erected in Arbroath to fly the burgh flag, the measure was passed.

Planning permission applications will now be lodged and the work, if given the green light, will then go ahead.