A ‘patriotic’ Brit has won a battle against housing inspectors – for the right to fly the Union Jack flag outside his Bolton home.
School caretaker Paul Rushton, 45, had been sent a letter last month warning him to remove the flag which he had erected for the commemoration of World War One after officials claimed it might be flying ‘too high’.
But after a wave of outrage in his neighbourhood in Bolton bosses, housing association Bolton At Home allowed the father of five to keep his 20-foot flag pole.
To celebrate Paul has expanded his flag collection, and now flies the flags of the United Kingdom, Lancashire, Bolton Wanderers, the Royal Air Force, British Army and the Lancashire Rose in rotation.
He said: “I put the flag up because it was coming up to 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War and I wanted to show how proud I am of our country’s history and the men and women who died for this country.
“The Commonwealth Games were also on at the time and I wanted to show my support for the national team.
“I am not connected to any political parties, I am simply patriotic. My partner’s mum gave me some money for my birthday so I thought I would treat myself to a new flag and 20ft flag pole. It cost £28 from eBay and I put it up myself.
“I initially chose a Lancashire Rose because even though Bolton is now technically Greater Manchester, people in Bolton still recognise Bolton as being in Lancashire. I thought it looked great – there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your country.
“But a few days later someone from the council came round and told me I had to take it down. I was shocked because a lot of people in our local area have flags outside their homes. The flags aren’t a political statement, they’re just a symbol of pride.
”There are at least six other flag poles I know of in the local area which have been up for years as well as many flags placed on properties.
“I don’t want to cause trouble in any way. All I am doing is flying a flag.
“Thankfully after all the hoo-hah the big bosses came down and apologised to me, they said I was the only person to receive the letter.
“They did a quick survey of the flagpole and said it was fine and then gave me a list of the flags you can fly. I just wanted to be patriotic and fly a flag from my house. I’ve always flown one from my house.”
Bolton at Home insists tenants are allowed to fly national flags, so long as they seek permission before putting up flag poles in their gardens. They said Paul had not asked for permission before putting up the flag pole in his front garden.
They said tenants were allowed to fly any flags so long as they meet government guidance, which includes any country’s national flag and any representing a UK county or town.
A spokesman added: “We apologise to Mr Ruston who received this letter as we didn’t clearly explain our position on flags and flag poles, which we’d like to clarify. Firstly, our customers can fly any flags if they do it in a way that meets government guidance.
“Secondly, we ask customers to seek our permission before putting up flag poles as we have to ensure they comply with the government guidance and that they are safe structures. This was the intention of our letter.
“Finally, we want customers to enjoy expressing their patriotism and we only investigate cases that fall outside of the government’s guidance.”
“We’re happy that the flagpole is safe and secure. We ask our customers to seek our permission before putting up flagpoles as we have to ensure they comply with government guidance and are sited appropriately.”
Bolton Council passed a resolution in April, agreeing to write to all schools in the borough to encourage them to fly the Union flag.
Story via Cavendish Press
Image courtesy of Adamina with thanks