THE  head of the peak body for businesses in Sydney’s LGBTI-centric Darlinghurst neighbourhood has said Taylor Square’s rainbow flagpole should remain in place and he is “perplexed” why City of Sydney agreed to spend $52,000 of taxpayer’s money on a structure only to potentially tear it down.

The comments come as council prepares to debate a motion at tonight’s meeting, at Sydney Town Hall, to make the temporary structure a permanent marker of the area’s LGBTI heritage.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who has an alternative plan to procure an artwork in Taylor Square to celebrate the LGBTI community, has so far made no commitments for the retention of the flagpole.

Meanwhile, a Star Observer poll has found 96 per cent of respondents favoured retaining the structure — which played a key role at this month’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade — either on its own or with an accompanying artwork.

Darlinghurst Business Partnership president Stephan Gyory said it made no sense to remove the flagpole now it was installed.

“I’ve got one word: perplexed,” he said.

“Who spends $50,ooo on a temporary flagpole? Why would you pull it down? Who’s it harming?”

Asked about Moore’s preference for an artwork, Gyory, who owns Darlinghurst’s Record Store, said: “Can’t you have an artwork and a flagpole?”

“I don’t think anyone has come to Australia to visit the flagpole but I reckon anyone who gets to Taylor Square goes, that’s a pretty cool flagpole,” he added.

A rainbow flag in Taylor Square was first suggested at council by Labor in 2005 but the measure was consistently voted down until a compromise temporary structure was proposed in 2014 that could later be removed before the future artwork was installed.

Eyebrows were raised when the pole, topped by a 6.2 by 3.4 metre rainbow flag, was installed last October with little fanfare and then referred to as merely “temporary” by Moore at a function this February.

Labor councillor Linda Scott told the Star Observer the rainbow flag was a visual reminder of the battle for equality and “hundreds” of local residents had supported her call for its installation.

“Since it has been built, local businesses are reporting the giant rainbow flag is bringing people back to Oxford St following a decade of neglect,” she said.

“For the good of Sydney’s future, the Lord Mayor must step out of the past and support calls for our brilliant rainbow flag to be allowed to stay permanently on Oxford St.”

Scott also supported Liberal councillor Christine Forster’s 2014 motion to erect the – albeit temporary – flagpole.

Forster, who is tabling tonight’s motion to make the temporary flag permanent, said: “The Lord Mayor is insisting that the flag will be removed, but I think that would fly in the face of the wishes of the community.”

Speaking to the Star Observer about the Taylor Square pole earlier this month, Moore said: “Flying the rainbow flag is a strong statement of acceptance and support for our GLBTI community and we have flown 200 of them along Oxford and Flinders streets since 2005.”

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