Palestinian flags that were flying on Hastings Pier and a house in Edgware have been removed, following interventions by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) on behalf of concerned local residents.
Four very large and prominent Palestinian flags were mounted on flagpoles on the roof of the structure on Hastings Pier, apparently in connection with a Palestinian cultural event held on the pier on 5 September 2021. However, they remained flying following the event.
UKLFI wrote to Hastings Council, pointing out that flying the flags in this location without the Council’s consent breached planning law, since they constituted an alteration of the character of the pier, which required the Council’s consent as the pier is a listed building.
Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI commented: “Flying these flags is a highly political statement on a controversial issue of foreign policy, on which passions run very high, promoting hostility and even violence, and causing considerable anxiety in affected communities.”
UKLFI submitted to the Council that in these circumstances the display of these flags was an alteration that affected the Pier’s character as a building of special architectural and historic interest, being a quintessentially British institution and an amenity and meeting point for all members of Hastings’ communities.
UKFLI also argued that the flags were an advertisement for which planning permission was required and had not been given. UKLFI stated that flying the flags did not fall within permitted Class H of the 2007 Regulations, whereby a country’s national flag may be flown without permission, since Palestine is not a country recognised by the British government.
UKLFI added that in exercising its powers in relation to listed building and planning enforcement, the Council is required to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between members of different communities by the public sector equality duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. In doing so, the Council should take into account that allowing the very prominent display of these flags to continue would further exacerbate tensions between different communities, which are already inflamed by the violent conflict earlier this year.
The flags were promptly removed following UKLFI’s complaint.
A large Palestinian flag bearing the slogan “FREE PALESTINE” was displayed in an upper window of a house in Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, very visible from a busy road.
UKLFI reported this to Harrow Council, pointing out that even if the flag could be regarded as a country’s national flag (which UKLFI disputed as “Palestine” is not recognised as a State by the UK), the Class H exemption does not permit added slogans.
UKLFI added that the ostentatious display of the flag with the slogan was intimidating to Jewish residents and noted that the Council is required to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between different national, ethnic and religious groups.
The flag was removed shortly after UKLFI’s complaint.