Taxi driver told to remove Cross of St George from vehicle as it breaches policy
A Shropshire taxi driver has been asked to remove the Cross of St George from his hackney carriage because it does not comply with Shropshire Council's advertising policy.
John Brockhurst, who runs Basil's Taxi, said he felt "annoyed" after receiving an email from the council asking him to remove the cross because it did not comply with the advertising policy that hackney carriages must not feature any "symbols, flags or emblems".
The Market Drayton man who has been driving taxis in Shropshire for 11 years has argued that the Cross of St George is an 'image' and not a 'flag' as it also references the King's Shropshire Light Infantry.
As a military veteran, Mr Brockhurst says the cross is of personal significance to him, having fought for Queen and country in both Ireland and Iraq.
He said: "I'm English and I'm proud of it and no one has said to me it's racist, I don't like it, or anything.
"I have had this vehicle for four years now and apart from the two years during Covid I have been to every inspection and I have been pulled over on the Whitchurch roundabout – and there's never been a problem.
"But suddenly, this month there's a problem and I'm in breach of their advertising standards."
He added: "I am annoyed, and initially I said I wasn't prepared to take them off but after seeking legal advice and the answer I got was 'unfortunately due to the guidelines of Shropshire Council you are in breach of their advertising guidelines'.
"But to me it's not a flag, it's an image. As I am saying in the appeal, it's nothing political it's personal.
"I undertook 40 years of service for Queen and country. The Union Jack that no one is mentioning on the bonnet in the middle of that was the King's Shropshire Light Infantry.
"Now obviously, the Light Infantry has a lot of association with Shrewsbury and Shropshire Council, i.e. the training depot was Copthorne Barracks which is now demolished. The King's Shropshire Light Infantry has a big regimental museum in Shrewsbury. There's a lot of history."
Mr Brockhurst went on to say that he has received responses on social media from former military personnel who are upset, as well as the locals around Market Drayton.
He added: "It was just a gimmick to make my vehicle stand out and you could ring me and ask me to pick you up, but you've never met me and I've never met you and you ask me what I'm driving and I say a blue vehicle with the cross of St George, then you know it's me."
According to Shropshire Council's Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2023-2027, advertisements will not be permitted if it 'depicts any political, racial, cultural, sexual or potentially offensive language, symbols, flags or emblems'.
Councillor Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning and regulatory services said: “Mr Brockhurst presented his hackney carriage for a routine compliance check when it was noted that his vehicle was displaying England flags on the nearside and offside rear windows and a Union Jack on the bonnet.
“The display of the flags on Mr Brockhurst’s vehicle was reviewed against Shropshire Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2023-2027 and it was found that his vehicle was not compliant with the policy, which clearly states that advertisements on hackney carriage vehicles must not include any political symbols, flags, or emblems.
“Following advice from the council’s licensing team, Mr Brockhurst acted promptly to remove the flags and the council is now satisfied that Mr Brockhurst’s vehicle is complaint with the relevant policy requirements.
“If Mr Brockhurst wishes to appeal the council’s decision, he can do so, and this will be determined in accordance with normal licensing procedures.”