Ex-soldier told to paint over 'offensive' St George’s flag on front door

A PATRIOTIC ex-soldier who painted a St George’s flag on his front door has been ordered to cover it up by his housing association landlords who claim it could be considered "offensive" and may bring "distress" to neighbours.Steven Rolfe, 52, painted the red and white colours of the English flag on his rented home in Preston, Lancs, 10 years ago and added hanging baskets to celebrate his love of England and mark his former career in the forces.

But despite being runner up in a council "best kept house" competition, he has now received a letter from an official at property management firm Places for People saying neighbours could be "alarmed" by the symbol.

The letter also warned the design could place him in a category of "nuisance neighbours" and said it could see him being evicted if he failed to cover it up.

In a letter to Mr Rolfe, Neighbourhood Officer Leanne Hardy gave him 14 days to repaint the door saying: "It has been brought to my attention that you have painted your front door in a way that could be considered offensive."

When he asked for permission to keep the flag, Ms Hardy sent another letter refusing his request and giving him seven days to paint over it in one colour.

She also warned him that failure could see him being in breach of his tenancy agreement.

In her letter Ms Hardy said the flag design fell foul of rules tackling unruly tenants who caused "a nuisance, annoyance, disturbance or harassment" of others.

Ms Hardy also said his conduct breached tenancy conditions concerning those tenants who were "injurious to the interests of neighbours" and those who "cause distress, alarm or interfere with the peace and comfort of any other person."

Mr Rolfe, who served in Northern Ireland, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter.

"We seem to be losing our values in this country and also losing our sense of identity, all in the name of political correctness."

The father-of-one said he had never had any problems before and none of his neighbours have ever complained.

He added: "I am far from being racist, I’m just proud of England that’s all.

"My neighbours say they would like to see more of the St George’s flag about."

Mr Rolfe has been supported by Muslim community leader Ali Anwar who said: "As far as I’m concerned, a man’s home is his castle, and he should be allowed to express himself as he wishes. This is political correctness gone mad."

Former Labour MP David Borrow, who is now a local councillor, said: "The door has been like that a long time and having spoken to the gentleman, I have no reason to believe that he is anything other than a decent member of the community.

"I do not believe that he has intended the door to symbolise anything offensive, and I have heard no specific complaints."

John Clemence, vice president of the Royal Society of St George, said: "To say that the cross of St George can cause offence needs to be challenged.

"We are seeing more and more of this kind of complaint, and these jobsworths are causing resentment and inciting racial hatred."

Places for People, which owns the house and runs 143,000 homes across Britain, has since apologised for calling the flag "offensive" but said Mr Rolfe must still repaint the door because he does not have the proper permission.