In an impressive case of official pettyfogging and regulatory excess, the Purbeck Council (Dorset) has banned a local veteran from flying his former regiment’s flag above his restaurant on the grounds that it should be regarded as a form of “advertising.”
A former Gurkha has been banned from flying the regiment’s flag from his Nepalese restaurant, but he has been told he can hoist the colours of the European Union.
Asbahadur Gurung, whose family served in the Army for 70 years, wanted to display his former regiment’s colours above his restaurant, called The Gurkha.
Council officials said the green and white flag was a form of advertising and refused him permission. But they advised him that he did not need permission to run up the flag of any country, the UN or the EU.
The decision has angered Mr Gurung, whose father Mambahadur fought in the Battle of Kohima in Burma in the Second World War. “I was proud to serve the British Army for 28 years as was my father before me,” he said. “We know the British people have a great respect for the Gurkhas and we thought a lot of people would appreciate the regiment flag.”
Mr Gurung, 70, spent 28 years in the Queen’s Gurkha Signals, eventually reaching the rank of captain.
He added: “Our restaurant is called The Gurkha so we thought it would be quite appropriate to fly our flag. I don’t understand what the problem is. It is not very good. I don’t want to fly another flag or the EU flag – I didn’t fight for the EU.”
Gurkhas are recruited from Nepal and have fought alongside British soldiers for almost 200 years and are renowned for their bravery.
Mr Gurung fought in the Malaya Emergency against a communist uprising in the 1950s and the Indonesian Confrontation in Brunei in the 1960s.
He went on to become a commanding officer, serving in Hong Kong, and left the Army with an exemplary record.
On becoming a civilian, he managed a Nepalese restaurant in Hong Kong before migrating to Britain in 1993.
He opened The Gurkha in Wareham, Dorset, last year and sought permission from Purbeck District Council to fly his regimental flag.
He had hoped to erect two 15ft flag poles and unfurl the Union Flag on one and, on the other, the Gurkha flag with its green background and two white crossed kukris – the curved weapon and general all-purpose tool of Nepal.
The local parish council had no problem with the flags and there were no complaints from local residents. But Purbeck council viewed the Gurkha flag as a form of advertising and refused permission for it to be displayed. They also thought it could distract passing motorists.
Alan Davies, the council’s principal planning officer, said: “The government regulations state you can fly the flag of any country without permission but the Gurkha flag is not the flag of a country and therefore it needs permission.
“There is already a plethora of advertising signs on the site of the restaurant. We are not opposed to the restaurant, indeed a lot of staff have been there before and it is excellent.”