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Killjoy council chiefs ordered a grandmother to take down a 5ft Jolly Roger pirate flag she put up in her garden for her grandchildren because it apparently breached advertising rules.

Maria Lambert said Breckland Council told her to remove the skull and crossbones after a complaint was made on August 24. Officials then investigated and changed their minds, saying it could stay. 

The 62-year-old care worker, of Foulden in Norfolk, told The Sun: ‘It’s not like it’s damaging anyone’s health. I have it up for fun. It is a laugh for the kids and it makes the garden look nice.’

The Jolly Roger is classed as an advertisement because it is not a national flag, under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. Flags and flagpoles must not display any advertisement or subject matter in addition to the flag’s design.  

No permission is needed to fly UK flags and they are excluded from most planning and advertising regulations. However, flying any other flag needs permission from the householder’s local authority. 

In a statement, Breckland Council said they are duty-bound to investigate complaints of flags being displayed without consent.  

A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Our team found that one of the three flag poles did legally require consent and wrote to the owner to ask them to take it down. After further discussions with the owner we feel no further enforcement is required and the flags can remain in place.’ 

Maria Lambert said Breckland Council told her to remove the skull and crossbones after a complaint was made on August 24. Officials then investigated and changed their minds, saying it could stay

Maria Lambert said Breckland Council told her to remove the skull and crossbones after a complaint was made on August 24. Officials then investigated and changed their minds, saying it could stay

Maria Lambert said Breckland Council told her to remove the skull and crossbones after a complaint was made on August 24. Officials then investigated and changed their minds, saying it could stay

Killjoy council chiefs ordered a grandmother to take down a 5ft Jolly Roger pirate flag she put up in her garden for her grandchildren because it apparently breached advertising rules

Killjoy council chiefs ordered a grandmother to take down a 5ft Jolly Roger pirate flag she put up in her garden for her grandchildren because it apparently breached advertising rules

Killjoy council chiefs ordered a grandmother to take down a 5ft Jolly Roger pirate flag she put up in her garden for her grandchildren because it apparently breached advertising rules

Flag-flying in the UK 

The Government made changes to regulations in 2012 which widens the types of flags you may fly in Britain.

No permission is needed to fly UK flags and they are excluded from most planning and advertising regulations. 

However, flying any other flag needs permission from the householder’s local authority. 

The Jolly Roger is classed as an advertisement because it is not a national flag, under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. 

Flags and flagpoles must not display any advertisement or subject matter in addition to the flag’s design. 

Flags which can be flown without consent include the national flag, civil ensign, or the civil air ensign of any country, UK flags, the flag of St David or St Patrick and the European Union flag. 

Club and company flags are also permitted to fly as is the Pride rainbow flag.   

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Flags which can be flown without consent include the national flag, civil ensign, or the civil air ensign of any country, UK flags, the flag of St David or St Patrick and the European Union flag. 

Club and company flags are also permitted to fly as is the Pride rainbow flag. 

An email sent to Ms Lambert from an assistant planning enforcement officer at Breckland Council said: ‘We have written to you with regards to the flags in your garden.

‘Unfortunately I need to advise you to remove the skull and crossbones flag, as this is in breach of advertising regulations.

‘Due to the high workload we are experiencing we are unable to visit you at this time. However if you remove the flag, and provide a photograph as evidence, this case will be closed.’ 

Britons have run into trouble with local authorities over flying the Jolly Roger in the past.  David Waterman, a fireman, was ordered to take down the flag from his home in Ashtead, Surrey in 2008.

A letter dated April 21 said he had seven days to remove the 5ft by 3ft banner after which it would be ‘very likely to attract removal and or prosecution’. 

‘It’s a £5 flag, not hurting anyone, and they’re probably spending hundreds of pounds of our cash getting me to take it down,’ he told the Evening Standard. ‘That could be spent on improving the local area – it’s disgraceful.’ 

A spokeswoman for Mole Valley District Council said they visited the property and wrote to the owner informing them of the regulations.

The letter stated that although any resident was entitled to fly national flags outside their properties, the Jolly Roger was not allowed under the Outdoor Advertisements & Signs Regulations. 

People have also run into trouble in recent years over flying the Union flag. In June, North Tyneside Council demanded that Tory councillors took down the flags that were decorating the party’s Group Room in the council building.

Bryn Roberts, head of Law and Governance at North Tyneside Council, allegedly deemed the flags ‘not appropriate’ in a message sent to Councillor Sean Brockbank, leader of North Tyneside Conservatives. 

Mr Roberts stated that the UK’s national flag was ‘overtly political’ and could not be used as decoration within the council building, Guido Fawkes reports.

He reportedly wrote: ‘Hi Councillor Brockbank – whilst delivering post today, it was noted that the above pictures, together with a quantity of Union Flag bunting, has been erected in the Conservative Group Room.

‘This is not an appropriate use of the room (and risks becoming an overtly political matter in an apolitical venue), so I will make arrangements for them to be removed at the end of the day.’

The Union Jack flag decorations before being removed from the North Tyneside Council building

The Union Jack flag decorations before being removed from the North Tyneside Council building

The Conservative Group Room after the flags were removed, in the North Tyneside Council building

The Conservative Group Room after the flags were removed, in the North Tyneside Council building

Bryn Roberts of North Tyneside Council, allegedly deemed the flags (left)  ‘not appropriate’ in a message sent to Councillor Sean Brockbank, and had them removed (right)

The council official continued: ‘I would be grateful if you could reinforce to your group that the facility is provided within a publicly funded building and, as such, should not be used in this fashion. Kind regards, Bryn.’   

A spokesperson from North Tyneside Conservatives said: ‘The Union Flag is part of our national identity and is indeed flown in government buildings up and down the country – it is astonishing that this is not allowed in North Tyneside.

‘The flag is one of the most recognisable symbols of the UK across the world, people look to it as a sign of hope and freedom – we firmly believe it should be flown, and indeed displayed with pride.’

Mr Roberts stated that the UK's national flag was 'overtly political' and could not be used as decoration within the council building

Mr Roberts stated that the UK's national flag was 'overtly political' and could not be used as decoration within the council building

Mr Roberts stated that the UK’s national flag was ‘overtly political’ and could not be used as decoration within the council building

Neil Garratt, Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, tweeted: ‘Google Street view looks like they have the Union Jack flying outside the North Tyneside Council.

‘If it’s OK outside the building, how can it be ‘political’ and forbidden inside the building? Idiots.’ 

Constituent Liz Rhodes Lobb wrote: ‘Shame on North Tyneside Council – ordered the removal of the National flag of our country, the Union Jack as it’s too political. Disgraceful!.’ 

Constituent Liz Rhodes Lobb wrote: 'Shame on North Tyneside Council ordered the removal of the National flag of our country'

Constituent Liz Rhodes Lobb wrote: 'Shame on North Tyneside Council ordered the removal of the National flag of our country'

Constituent Liz Rhodes Lobb wrote: ‘Shame on North Tyneside Council ordered the removal of the National flag of our country’

Neil Garratt, Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, tweeted: 'Google Street view looks like they have the Union Jack flying outside'

Neil Garratt, Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, tweeted: 'Google Street view looks like they have the Union Jack flying outside'

Neil Garratt, Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, tweeted: ‘Google Street view looks like they have the Union Jack flying outside’ 

Paul Hanson, Chief Executive of North Tyneside Council said: ‘Unfortunately the information shared with the media is only part of the story.

‘The display was more extensive and more political because it included pictures of past Conservative politicians. And we would have said the same thing to any other political party about any other politicians.

‘This was not about the Union Jack which we are proud to fly every day.

‘We operate in a leased building and avoid informal displays as they cause damage and bring maintenance costs. We also operate a politically neutral public building. We explained that to the Councillors involved when we took down the full display.’   

Source: Daily Mail UK

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