Flag row takes another twist
11th October 2005
by Dan King
A ROW over a European Union flag taken down from outside a council headquarters has taken another twist - after the authority confirmed it was seeking to put it back up at taxpayers' expense.
Wear Valley District Council was ordered to take down the flag from its base in Crook, County Durham, last month after it emerged that it did not have permission to fly it.
Under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulation 1992, the EU flag is classified as an outdoor advertisement and requires planning permission.
But now the council has applied for authorisation to restore it - and spent £265 on applying for advertising consent.
Anti-European campaigner Neil Herron said he was unhappy that public money was being used to fund it and that no consultation had been carried out.
"They haven't sought public opinion on this. I do not think many people would want an EU flag being flown.
"I am a Wear Valley rate payer and I object to it. I do not want my money being used by a council for this."
The flag had been on display for several years before political crusader Jim Tague discovered that, under the Freedom of Information Act, the council was breaking the rules.
It was taken down, and The European Parliament office, in London, followed suit shortly afterwards as they removed a large EU flag for the same reason.
Mr Tague said: "That Wear Valley District Council has applied for advertisement consent to fly the EU flag does not surprise me.
"After all, it was proved illegal to fly the flag without prior consent.
"If the council wish to fly the EU flag ahead of the English flag, then they will be challenged.
"We want our flag to fly on a permanent basis, and the EU flag to fly on Europe day, May 9."
A spokesman for Wear Valley District Council confirmed: "The housing department have put a planning application in and the fee is £265.
"There are 21 days in which people can object and we have already consulted residents who will be looking on to it.
"Any objections would be taken into consideration."
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
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