Flying the flag in the face of austerity

A local resident writes:

‘Have you noticed all the Union Jacks now flying in the borough? You might expect a Union Jack at the Town Hall, but do we need them at Leyton Cricket Ground and other such facilities? Alongside running the Council, with all the difficult decisions to be made over cuts to essential services, it would appear that money has been found to put a flagpole and union jack at all our sports grounds and council buildings, even to the extent of getting planning permission where required for listed buildings.

Emails from the Council Leader’s office asking “Please can I have an update for the Leader asap” followed up with the detailed request “Leader would like flags installed at…”, listing ten locations in the borough, including cemeteries, libraries, and parks, show the high priority given to the project. The request for some locations is very precise, for example “Coronation Gardens (West End)”, and also included is the Construction Skills Centre, a rather anonymous industrial building next to Cathall Bridge. The latter was an Olympics inspired plan to make sure local youth get a chance to work on all the regeneration at Stratford, but interestingly it never features in the Council’s publicity to any great extent, with rumours that its future is under threat. At least it now has two flag poles (yes, a matching pair) to mark its existence.

Why do we need these flags? The only reason given in the planning application is to give ‘a sense of place’ – one of those phrases used in local government that means very little to the residents paying the bill. And the cost of all this to the local taxpayer? £10,698.50 plus all the hours spent by Council officers beavering away on this North Korean style plan’.