Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Flying the flag


I see that Uncle Eric intends to amend the Control of Advertisements Regulations to remove some of the restrictions on the display of flags (which are classed as advertisements, even if they are not actually advertising anything).

This reminded me of a piece I wrote under this title, which appeared in this blog as long ago as 3 July 2006. Here is what I wrote on that occasion:

“Maybe it’s all those white flags with red crosses on them that have been seen around recently (to warn everyone to keep well away from the people flying them) that has led to the planning implications of flying flags getting on the TV news. I missed seeing this report, but apparently Channel 4 News last Thursday night picked up on the way the Control of Advertisements Regulations operates in relation to the flying of flags. (Has the ‘silly season’ started unusually early this year?)

The gist of the report seems to have been that the regulations permit the flying of a flag vertically but not horizontally or at an angle. Presumably, this was a reference to Schedule 3 Class 7, which gives deemed consent for an advertisement in the form of a flag attached to a single flagpole projecting vertically from the roof of a building or a single flagpole (again vertical) on a building site. I suppose some bright spark has decided that any other form of display is unauthorised.

The TV people even managed to get an interview with the planning minister, who promised to change the regulations and expressed the hope that LPAs would not take enforcement action in the meantime.

This is not the first time the regulations relating to flags have caused difficulty. You can have any number of vertical flagpoles each displaying a single national flag. The rules seem to be silent as to whether this means different national flags, or whether each separate flagpole could have the same national flag on it (such as that strange white flag with the red cross on it which seems to have been so popular recently).

The rules about other flags, such as a flag proclaiming “Jerrybuilt Developments”, are quite restrictive – one only on a site where houses are being built (Class 7B), or again only one (displayed vertically on the roof, as mentioned above) on any building, which can bear the name or device of the occupier (Class 7A) subject to the inevitable size limits.

So if you want to wind up your Enforcement Officer, tell him to go round and demand that people displaying flags on the front walls or roofs of their houses take them down immediately or face prosecution under the Control of Advertisements Regulations! Perhaps the best time to find the occupants in would be during the next World Cup match (although now that England has been knocked out, they seem to be disappearing fairly rapidly without the need for official intervention).

At the weekend, I discovered that the ‘problem’ of flags not being flown vertically from flagpoles was nothing new. I heard of a case in Tewkesbury five years ago where the proprietor of a hotel who flew a flag at an angle of about 45 degrees above the entrance to the hotel was told it was unauthorised. Very sensibly, he ignored the 'jobsworth' who told him it should be flown vertically, and it still flies at its unauthorised angle to this day. At least the hotel proprietor will now have the comfort of knowing that he has the support of the Planning Minister (Yvette Cooper) pending a long overdue updating of the Advertisement Control Regulations.”

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The Control of Advertisements Regulations have already been amended since that article was written, so the position is already slightly more relaxed than that described above, but it seems that the Secretary of State has persuaded himself that some further relaxation of the rules is now called for.

© MARTIN H GOODALL

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