Eric Pickles cuts flag flying red tape

 

Proud flag bearers will need no longer fear nailing their colours to the mast after the Government revealed it would be waving away red tape on the banners.

From October 12, express consent will not be needed to display a wide range of flags in England - which currently costs up to £335.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said following the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, he wanted to make it easier for people to fly flags. Planning regulations which require express consent for flag flying will be scrapped from October 12.

The rules will apply to a wide range of flags, including national and international flags, the Armed Forces Day and some military flags, the Rainbow Pride flag, and those associated to sports clubs or award schemes.

Separate regulations restricting the use of certain flags, such as those linked to HM Armed Forces, will stay in place.

Mr Pickles said: "The widespread flag flying during the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and Olympics is evidence of a gradual cultural change in Britain.

"The British people are increasingly proud to fly flags as an expression of their local and national identities.

"Flags unite communities across colour, creed and class, so I am cutting municipal red tape to make it easier to fly Britain's varied and diverse flags without state interference."

Mr Pickles said he was "looking forward" to seeing more flags flying around the country following the change in the rules.

The move was backed by Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Flags, who said: "For centuries, flags have been used to display and promote the identity of nations, communities and organisations.

"I am delighted that British people will now be encouraged to hoist a banner and continue this tradition without restriction."

Charles Ashburner, chief executive of the Flag Institute, said: "In our super fast world of instant news and ever changing technology, flags remain the ultimate symbol of identity.

"The deregulation of flag flying regulations is something which everyone who believes in freedom of expression should support.

"This really is a new Freedom to Fly Flags."

Current rules technically require express consent for any flag attached to buildings under planning regulations in the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.

Express consent is obtained from local authorities but typically requires a fee to be paid.

Separate rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where the relaxation will not apply.

PA

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