Published: 10:28, 21 April 2022
| Updated: 15:27, 21 April 2022
A former soldier is defying a council order to take down a flagpole bearing the Union and Ukrainian flags.
Nigel Hart erected the 4.5-metre post outside his mum’s council property off Sturry Road, Canterbury, to show his support for Ukraine and the British Armed Forces.
But the city council has ordered the 33-year-old to take it down due to health and safety fears, and its location in a communal space.
Mr Hart, who served for two years in the Territorial Army, has hit back at the decision, and says he has no plans to remove the pole.
“I feel really strongly about what’s going on in the world, being a former soldier myself,” he said.
“What’s going on in Ukraine is like World War Three.
“And I have many friends that are serving soldiers, I have friends that have been out [to fight in other countries] and haven’t come back.
“And this is why I’ve put the pole up, to show my support.”
But the city council has told him to take it down.
A spokesman said: “While we understand Mr Hart’s military background and passion to support his former colleagues and those fighting in Ukraine, he has installed the flagpole in a communal garden.
“This is an area for the enjoyment of several tenants living in properties there, not for just one person to use.
“The tenancy agreement people sign up to when moving into a council home is very clear that communal areas cannot be used in this way. We have to be fair to all our tenants and apply this rule to everybody.
“In addition, if the flagpole was to fall or be pushed over, there is the potential for injury to people nearby or damage to their property. We accept this is a sensitive matter, particularly at the current time, and that our decision to ask Mr Hart to remove the flagpole is likely to be divisive.
“Some people will no doubt think it’s an overreaction, while others will understand and support our reasoning. However, it’s a decision we will not be changing for the reasons set out here and we expect it to be removed as we have requested.”
Mr Hart, who now works as a chef at a city centre pub and lives in Honeywood Close with his mum, remains determined to keep the flags flying.
“It feels like what I believe in is being stripped from me,” he said. “It’s like we live in a police state.”
Mr Hart says he positioned the pole carefully to limit its impact on neighbours, and secured it into the ground with concrete.
“I personally don’t believe there is a safety risk,” he said.
“I’m more than prepared to take it down in bad weather, but all the time that it’s nice and sunny the flags will remain up high, so people can see.”
“I’ve no plans to take it down as of yet.”