PATRIOTIC villagers have been left confused after being told to take down their new Union Flag for the European elections.

Vernham Dean residents spent years saving up for their new flag for the Millennium Hall, but it was flying for just 10 days before they were instructed to take it down.

Test Valley Borough Council had received a complaint that the Union Flag is used in some of the British National Party (BNP) marketing material. The BNP’s new official logo is a Union Flag emblazoned heart with the party’s name.

An officer asked that the flag was not flown while the hall was used as the polling station last Thursday.

Mary Perry, secretary of the village hall, told the Advertiser: “It’s our national flag and it’s a public building – how ridiculous are we getting?

“We had the flag pole up for 10 days – we didn’t put it up because of the election.

“The flagpole was one of the things on the list so we were delighted to get it up.

“How many other public buildings had to remove our British flag? – It’s so petty.”

John Clark, chairman of the village hall, added: “I don’t understand it as it’s a British election for the country in Europe and it’s a Union Jack on a public building.

“If it’s a rule, it’s a rule, then fine.”

A borough council spokesman said: “During elections, there is a heightened sensitivity to any action which could be seen to encourage, or could be mistaken as encouraging, people to vote in a particular way.

“A complaint was received from an elector that the flying of the Union Flag over the polling station in Vernham Dean Millennium Hall could be seen to do so during the recent European elections.

“Polling stations do not normally fly flags. As a result of this sensitivity, a request was made to remove the flag during the remainder of polling day.”