Basil Brockhurst, an ex-Armed Forces serviceman and owner of Basil’s Taxi, is in a heated dispute with Shropshire Council over their decision to prohibit him from flying the Union Flag on his cab. The clash between personal expression and council regulations has ignited a broader debate about the limits of patriotic displays on licensed vehicles.
Mr. Brockhurst, known for his dedication to patriotism and remembrance, already proudly flies the Union Flag at his Shropshire home, adorned with Remembrance Day decorations, including a poignant metal “Lest We Forget” sign on his front fence. However, his attempt to extend this patriotic expression to his taxi, featuring two seemingly uncontroversial UK flags, has encountered resistance from Shropshire Council.
The council’s stance, rooted in the Hackney Carriage and Private Vehicles Licensing Policy passed in 2023, prohibits licensed vehicles from displaying signs advocating social or political causes. This policy ensures that taxis do not carry signage depicting “political, racial, cultural, sexual, or potentially offensive language.”
The flags in question bear the sigil of Mr. Brockhurst’s Army unit, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and a straightforward St George’s Cross with “England” emblazoned across the middle. Despite their non-political nature, the council insists that they violate advertising standards.
Mr. Brockhurst, expressing his dissatisfaction, highlighted his 30 years of service to the Queen and country, spanning Northern Ireland and Iraq. He received an email from the council on October 17, stating that he breached advertising standards and must remove the flags. In response, he told GB News, “I cannot display the cross of St George or the Union Jack. I was not happy; I was quite perturbed.”
The controversy has gained attention on social media, with GB News host Patrick Christys criticizing the council’s decision, calling it an “absolute disgrace.” He expressed frustration, noting the prevalence of flags from other countries that might be considered more divisive.
To address the issue, Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan and Shropshire Council’s deputy leader are assisting Mr. Brockhurst in seeking a revision to the policy. Proposed changes would permit Shropshire cabbies to display an A4-sized Union Flag in their cars. While these revisions have received approval, they faced resistance from some Shropshire councilors, highlighting the ongoing tensions between personal expression and regulatory compliance in public spaces.
Green Party councilor Mike Isherwood has voiced his concerns, stating that introducing flags to taxis, especially if it involves displaying the flag of a single nation, is “needlessly divisive.” He called for adopting a “neutral policy” regarding flag displays, expressing the belief that the current agreements align most with this objective.
Seizing the opportunity presented by the policy changes, Mr. Brockhurst wasted no time and proudly affixed a “Basil’s Taxi” logo incorporating the Union Flag to the bonnet of his car.