RESIDENTS of a Borders gateway town are up in arms after their local Tory-run council ordered the removal of six Scotland flags from the high street.

Popular with visitors to Coldstream, the Saltires have been flown in previous years without any issues by local businessman David Shepherd, who installs them each summer at his own cost to add a splash of colour to the town centre.

They were put up again this year on July 31 to mark the town’s annual civil week, even though celebrations had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

But Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has now ordered Shepherd to remove them after receiving a complaint that the flags are flying on council property.

Shepherd said: “I’ve done it in previous years without complaint and there’s been no issues. I’ve never heard a negative comment before. The complaint seems to be that the flags are flying on council property. They told me data protection means they can’t say who complained. It sounds a bit political to me.”

A gateway to Scotland, Coldstream lies on the north bank of the River Tweed and is known as the “first true border toon”. Motorists crossing the bridge are greeted by a “Scotland Welcomes You” sign.

Shepherd’s six flags were again fixed to railings on the high street at the entrance to Henderson Park, which overlooks the Tweed with views across the Border into Northumberland. In previous years, Shepherd has had as many as 11 flags flying from the same spot.

He added: “I did it again this year to add a bit of colour and identity to Coldstream – which is in Scotland after all – for civic week after townsfolk had to endure months of dealing with Covid.

“Like in previous years, the flags, wood posts, paint, gold tops and installation were done entirely at my own cost. I have seen many people taking photos of them, presumably to mark their arrival to Coldstream and Scotland.

“While I was taking them down, three other tourists were taking photos. The flags are not a political statement and are not there to offend in any way. I’ve been taken aback by the response. I expected a few comments, but I’ve had hundreds.”

SNP councillor Donald Moffat, who lives in the town, said: “It is sad if someone has taken offence and

ridiculous that they have been

taken down. A lot of people are


“I know a lot of tourists expected to see the flag when they cross the bridge into Scotland. My wife is English and I have family and friends who loved seeing the flags when they come to visit. I don’t know what the explanation is.”

The council ruling has been heavily criticised on Facebook.

Bow Daniels posted: “I’m English and live here and they bring some colour to the town. There are some really pathetic people out there.”

Gail Elliott described the decision as “unbelievable”, while Beth Scobie wrote: “What a sad world we are living in, especially the SBC. Shocking.”

Sandra Hoy added: “I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with them at all. It brightens the place up.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “These flags were erected/attached to council property with no prior permission.

“The council has therefore contacted the person involved and asked for them to be removed.”