‘It’s ok to fly England flags’ says minister Shapps
MP Grant Shapps has backed the waving of national flags in the run up to the World Cup and told councils to not be “over-zealous in applying petty rules” after a pensioner was forced to remove hers due to health and safety regulations.
Nottinghamshire pensioner Doreen Carnelley was reduced to tears after council workers tore down 27 England flags flown from lampposts outside her home.
The 74-year-old had been flying the flags for the past six World Cups and European Championship tournaments until they were dumped in a hedge by Nottingham City Council workers.
Then the new minister for local government – Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps – stepped in.
Mr Shapps provided the Government’s view on the matter and the flags have since been replaced.
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In a statement, he said: “Ahead of the World Cup, communities across England will want to wave the flag of St George with pride.
“Councils should show some common sense and not be over-zealous in applying petty rules.
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“The World Cup is a great opportunity for local communities of all backgrounds to pull together. Councils should do their bit in helping reclaim the English flag as a proud symbol of our nation’s identity.”
He told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “This was a kind of warning shot to councils over the kind of thing I will be keeping an eye on as minister for local government.
After initially standing by their decision and explaining why that it was an “obvious safety hazard”, Nottingham City Council then apologised with the leader Jon Collins paying a visit to Mrs Carnelly.
He has arranged for the flags to be safely put up again around her property.
He said: “I am sorry we upset Mrs Carnelly, we have been around and put it right today.
“The council is a big organisation, we make mistakes from time to time, and we made a mistake this time.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t want people to put flags up – as far as I’m concerned, let’s decorate the city.”