Move to take down Union flag amid '˜eyesore' complaints

Officials have moved to take down a Union flag in a North Ayrshire town after an MP's complaint which described it as an 'eyesore'.
The Union flag. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL staff.The Union flag. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL staff.
The Union flag. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL staff.

The flag has been in place 40 feet above a closed sports pub in the Main Street of Largs for nearly three years, according to The Herald.

Planning officers began investigating after a complaint by the local MP, Patricia Gibson, last August.

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They have now decided the flag is harmful to the look of the holiday resort.

It is understood the flag and pole were put up around the time of the last independence referendum in 2014.

However, officials have said nobody has accepted responsibility, sparking a warning from the council that it will take action to remove the “incongruous” flagpole which does not have planning permission.

The action began after the North Ayrshire and Arran MP wrote to the council’s head of economic growth, Caitriona McAuley, about the “flag at the Sheiling public house”.

She said constituents had made her aware that it “completely dominates the environs and is very intrusive on this busy public thoroughfare”.

She wrote: “I would appreciate if you could inform me whether North Ayrshire Council could expedite the removal of this huge flag on this very public thoroughfare.”

North Ayrshire Council officers later told residents that the flagpole was unauthorised and that they were considering enforcement action to compel its removal.

Officials told them that, in any case, planning permission would not be supported.

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Karen Yeomans, the council’s economy and community executive director, recommended taking direct action to force the removal of the flag and flagpole, and seek any costs incurred from the landowner, saying it “harms the visual amenity of the area”.

But councillors said the property owner should be given the chance to submit a planning application for the pole and that a further update would be provided.

Tom Marshall, the council’s vice chairman of planning, questioned Mrs Gibson’s concerns.

He said: “The Union flag is a national flag and anyone is entitled to fly it.

“It would only be an eyesore to a Scottish nationalist. If the flagpole had been flying a Saltire then Mrs Gibson would not have complained.

“I wonder if she will take action over the Saltires adorning some classrooms in Largs Academy?”

Mrs Gibson said she raised the matter after constituents “expressed concern that this flagpole and flag was an eyesore”. She added: “As I do with all constituent concerns, I made representations to the relevant body, in this case North Ayrshire Council.”

A council spokesman said: “At a recent planning meeting, an enforcement notice to have the flagpole removed was approved. To our knowledge the flagpole has not yet been removed and it remains unclear who erected the flagpole.”

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