Dersingham flagpole poleaxed

John Houston, Kurtis Green and Valerie Brundle who are having problems with the Parish Council regarding the flag pole at Dersingham war memorial ANL-161105-150156009
John Houston, Kurtis Green and Valerie Brundle who are having problems with the Parish Council regarding the flag pole at Dersingham war memorial ANL-161105-150156009

Dersingham Parish Council have decided to replace the controversial flagpole that stands in the village War Memorial Garden.

The decision comes after a battle spanning several years between the ‘Memorial Three’ and the parish council, culminating in the three individuals flying the flag upside down and chaining themselves to the flagpole last May.

With hopes of preventing such an incident from happening again, a council spokesman said: “At the time, we received numerous calls from residents and visitors to the area who were very angry and upset, asking why the Union Flag was being flown upside down and why the parish council was not rectifying it. We had to explain that it wasn’t our property, and we were unable to do anything.”

John Houston, vice chairman of the Royal British Legion for the area and one of the Memorial Three, said: “It’s a sad state of affairs. It will not stop until the members of the parish council change their attitudes.”

Despite the decision by the Dersingham Parish Council to remove the controversial War Memorial flagpole, the ‘Memorial Three’ fear this will not be the end of the battle.

They claim it could sow even greater division in the village as malcontent from the residents grows with every decision of the parish council.

John Houston, vice chairman of the Royal British Legion for the area and one of the Memorial Three, said: “We’re not best pleased, removing the flagpole is removing its importance for remembrance services.

“We as a branch would never touch it now, we would put up a temporary flagpole for future services.”

He added: “It’s going to make a bigger division between those who do care about the RBL and those who don’t.”

The flagpole was installed by Mr Houston, parish councillor Valerie Brundle and Kurtis Ross-Green, on behalf of the RBL in 2014 and has been the subject of much tension since.

After the ‘unpleasant situation’ back in May where the trio chained themselves to the flagpole after flying the Union Flag upside down, the parish council decided to replace it with one of their own.

A council spokesman said: “At a meeting of the parish council held on Monday, members approved a quote for a replacement flagpole which will be installed in the near future.

“The existing flagpole will be stored securely for three months and then, unless claimed, will be disposed of.”

They added: “The Parish Council has taken legal advice, and consulted the Royal British Legion Norfolk County Chairman who supports the Parish Council taking this course of action.”

The flagpole was originally paid for out of money left by deceased members of the Royal British Legion who had previously lived in the area.

Mr Houston said: “The members of the branch own it and it all comes under the Royal Charter for the British Legion, by removing it they are removing the legacy of our members.”

He also revealed the council are now looking to spend upwards of £400 on replacing the flagpole but claims the council have no budget to support the action.

He said: “The parish council are supposed to be in charge of the budget and yet they’re spending money on this which will have to come out of their reserves.

“The British Legion have told us they are on our side and we feel the council have no respect for what the British Legion do. They seem to have a personal vendetta against us because we dare to speak up against them.”