Councils are being urged to fly the Union flag from buildings as the UK Government has announced that it will fly the flag on government buildings every day due to a change in policy.
Currently, Union flags are only required to be flown on all UK Government buildings on designated days, but that has been changed in new guidance published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The change in guidance will ask for the flag to be flown all year round, unless another flag is being flown, such as another national flag of the UK, a county flag, or other flags to mark civic pride.
Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick has written to all councils In England to raise awareness of the guidance and encourage them to fly Union flags on their buildings.
The Union flag, which dates back to 1606, is the national flag of the United Kingdom and is a symbol of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland being united under one sovereign.
Commenting, Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “The Union flag unites us as a nation and people rightly expect it to be flown above UK Government buildings. This guidance will ensure that happens every day, unless another flag is being flown, as a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us.
Robert Jenrick added: “Our nation’s flag is a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom that creates a shared sense of civic pride. People rightly expect to see the Union flag flying high on civic and government buildings up and down the country, as a sign of our local and national identity.
“That’s why I am calling on all local councils to fly the Union flag on their buildings and today’s guidance will enable them to do that. We’ve also cut red tape, allowing councils to also fly their county flag at the same time.”
The government has also cut red tape to allow dual flagging, where two flags can be flown on one pole and where organisations have two flag poles, they can fly the Union flag alongside another flag.
This will allow organisations to highlight their local identity alongside their national identities, for example, by flying a Middlesex county flag alongside the Union flag in London, or the Wales flag alongside the Union flag in Wales.
Other flags may also be flown on non-designated days, including a Saint’s Day, such as St George’s Day on 23 April, or county day, such as Yorkshire Day on 1 August.
Planning regulations in England that were introduced in 2007 to allow the European Union flag to be flown on public buildings without acquiring planning permission will also be removed following the UK’s departure from the EU.
New ‘deemed consent’ will be granted for NHS flags and this will allow them to be flown, without planning permission, alongside the Union flag.
Other authorities, institutions and individuals may fly any flag at any time, so long as it complies with planning requirements.
The flying of national flags, including the Union flag, is deregulated in England, Scotland and Wales, and the update is guidance only and will apply from the summer.