A FORMER soldier, from Westbury, has criticised Wiltshire Council for ordering that flags celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics be taken down in his road.
Steve Bagshaw-Smith and wife Marion were stunned when the Union Flag they and their neighbours had raised on a lamppost outside their home in Sandalwood Road was removed on Monday.
The 58-year-old resident – who had served in the Army for 15 years, including two tours of Northern Ireland – said the neighbours had hoped to leave their flag flying for the duration of the Paralympic Games, which start on August 29.
However, they were told the council had ordered the removal of the flags prior to taking over maintenance of the road.
The council has since apologised for a lack of “common sense” in its approach to the decorations.
“I was really incensed at having to take this flag down, said Mr Bagshaw-Smith.
“I am very proud to have served my country throughout my life and to be told I can’t celebrate it is very frustrating.
“We were excited when we got together with our friends and put that flag up for the Jubilee and we left it up for the [football championship] Euros and the Olympic Games.
“We moved here in 2007, but we hadn’t got to know the neighbours particularly well and celebrating the events this summer has brought us all together.
“We wanted to keep the flags up for the Paralympics; now it looks like we don’t care about them.
“Our neighbours have had to take down flags on their bedroom windows and railings, as well.”
Paul Walton, the managing director of civil engineering firm Tithegrove, confirmed that Wiltshire Council had instructed it to take down the flags while preparing the road for adoption.
A council spokesman said: “We always try to adopt a common sense approach in everything we do and we apologise this hasn’t happened on this occasion, especially as Wiltshire Council is a big supporter of this summer’s patriotic events.”
Clarifying the adoption policy, the spokesman added: “Before the council takes over the maintenance of an estate, the developer must ensure it meets certain standards.
“This includes ensuring the roads and pavements are even, the drainage system works and there is nothing attached to any of the street lights.
“In hindsight, this process was carried out too rigorously on this occasion.”