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Health and safety killjoys tell war veterans they are too old to hoist the Union Flag over town hall

 
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07/26/2008 02:46 PM
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Health and safety killjoys tell war veterans they are too old to hoist the Union Flag over town hall
In their younger days, they risked death and injury to fight for their country against the Nazis and other enemies.


But, now, war veterans who want to fly the Union Flag proudly above their town hall are being defeated by a barrage of health and safety rules.


Royal British Legion members had scented victory after fighting for months to hoist the flag permanently in Calne, Wiltshire.


The council suggested handing over the operation to the veterans - but then landed them with a 50-point list of rules banning anyone with a wide range of health conditions from going on the roof.


All the branch's 84 members are over 60 and suffer from a variety of ailments which would stop them going up a ladder to raise the flag.


The council report rules out anyone taking prescription medicines or with a history of heart problems, asthma, stroke, high or low blood pressure, epilepsy, fear of heights, depression, poor sight, mobility problems or diabetes.

Councillor John Ireland, 61, who is also branch chairman and served in the Army for 27 years, said: 'We have fought bravely and many of us risked our lives in a world war.


'We are perfectly capable of going up a ladder a few feet to put a flag up on a roof.


'All the council is trying to do is find excuses to stop flying the flag.


'They have been very sneaky. What they gave in one hand, they took away in the other, knowing full well none of us is fit enough to match those rules.'


The report adds that anyone raising the flag would have to undergo training courses in 'working at height' and 'manual handling'.

They would also have to be kitted out in safety footwear and weatherproof clothing.


The 25ft flagpole is on a section of flat roof accessed via a ladder through a skylight.


But the veterans cannot ask younger non-members to help as they have to be covered by the RBL's £10million insurance policy.


Calne town hall flagpole

The 26ft flagpole is on a 30ft roof - but the war veterans insist it is no challenge

The dispute began last November when the 19-member council rejected Mr Ireland's proposal to fly the Union Flag permanently.


Opponents cited the £80 annual cost and said the flag would lose significance if flown every day.


But legion members claim the council is being politically-correct as it fears being labelled racist.


Mr Ireland believed the veterans had won when the council agreed to consider handing over the control and cost of the flagpole.


But days later, town hall clerk Linda Roberts produced the lengthy rules for councillors to consider before voting on the idea.


She suggests a 'less risky option', such as flying the flag from the side of the council building or from another building in the town.


Branch treasurer Margaret Russell added: 'The health and safety rules are just the latest hurdle the council has put in our way. It is our flag and we should be proud of it.'


Calne town council refused to comment yesterday


 [link to www.thisislondon.co.uk] 


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