Bourne: Council's u-turn on flying flag

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Bourne's Town Hall flagpole left bare on St George's Day because of health and safety concerns will display the Union Flag as a tribute to armed forces heroes after all – after officials bowed to public pressure.

Bourne's Town Hall flagpole left bare on St George's Day because of health and safety concerns will display the Union Flag as a tribute to armed forces heroes after all – after officials bowed to public pressure.The decision not to unfurl the flag of St George outside Bourne Town Hall last month because it would have been "too risky" for workmen to put it up sparked outrage among people in the town.

It had been feared the same ruling would apply for Armed Forces Day on June 27, but following persistent campaigning from Bourne Town Council and the Royal British Legion, officials from South Kesteven District Council, which owns the building, have promised the Union Flag will be flown.

Former mayor Brian Fines (72), who is chairman of Bourne's Armed Forces Day Committee, said he welcomed the about-turn.

He said: "I have spoken to many, many armed forces veterans about this situation and they were all absolutely appalled when the flag was not flown on St George's Day. Many of them would go so far as to say that not displaying the Union Flag on Armed Forces Day would have been an insult to all those who have fought for their country. If the district council has seen sense and is no longer a slave to this ridiculous health and safety culture, that has to be a good thing."

Council officials ruled it would be too dangerous to attempt to raise a flag on St George's Day because it would have involved resting an 8ft ladder on a plinth above a spiked gate. But they now say a "short-term" solution has been found to allow the Union Flag to be flown on Armed Forces Day, as well as on the Queen's birthday on June 13.

Ex-serviceman and Royal British Legion committee member Don Fisher, of West Road in Bourne, said: "We protested very loudly about this health and safety nonsense, and I'm glad our message seems to have got through."

South Kesteven District Council's corporate head Paul Stokes issued an apology on behalf of the authority for the delay in finding a solution to the flag problem.

"It was never our intention to cause any distress to the brave members of our armed forces, or the people of Bourne," he said.

"I would like to thank the people of Bourne for their patience with us, but I guarantee that the flag will fly in June."