Flying the flag
PUBLISHED: 11:49 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:20 06 May 2010
PATRIOTIC taxi drivers are allowed to keep flying the flag for England after The Comet stepped in to help them out. Steve Shead, 53, who drives a cab in Letchworth GC rang The Comet just hours before England s World Cup game against Trinidad and Tobago la
PATRIOTIC taxi drivers are allowed to keep flying the flag for England after The Comet stepped in to help them out.
Steve Shead, 53, who drives a cab in Letchworth GC rang The Comet just hours before England's World Cup game against Trinidad and Tobago last Thursday.
He and other cabbies parked at Letchworth GC railway station and Broadway taxi ranks had been visited by a representative from North Herts District Council's licensing department and told to remove England flags from their cars.
They had also been told not to wear clothing which featured the flag.
Mr Shead said they were told that the flags should be removed on health and safety grounds, and also to avoid upsetting drivers from ethnic minorities.
He said they were told if they didn't comply with the order they could have their licences revoked.
But after The Comet contacted the council, red-faced officials were forced to make a u-turn and cabbies are now allowed to fly the flag with pride.
A spokesman for NHDC said: "North Hertfordshire District Council confirms that it will be allowing its licensed taxis to fly flags for the duration of the World Cup if they wish.
"Normally cosmetic alterations to vehicles are not allowed but we will not be forcing the issue.
"Unfortunately on June 15 one of our enforcement officers, who was clearly not sure about the relaxation, asked two drivers in Letchworth Garden City to remove flags from their vehicles.
"NHDC accepts responsibility for the officer's action. Steps were quickly taken to reassure the drivers concerned that they would in fact be permitted to fly their flags."
When The Comet told him about the council's change of heart, Mr Shead said: "I'm glad they've backed down and seen sense.
"There was nothing religiously motivated about it, it was purely about football and we were supporting our team.
"I wouldn't have taken mine down.
"All our guys are totally mad about football. I think they were just being pedantic."
o Elsewhere in Comet country, Stevenage Borough Council said it had no policy on England flags and shirts for taxi companies and Mid Beds District Council said it has not banned cabbies from displaying flags on their cars.