Union jack replaced with Welsh flag after dispute

Peter Williams standing in front of Shire Hall
Peter Williams has campaigned for the flag to be flown outside Shire Hall in Monmouth

A retired teacher is claiming victory after the Wales flag was raised at one of Monmouthshire's most prominent buildings and the union jack lowered.

Shire Hall in Monmouth has agreed to fly the red dragon following a complaint by Peter Williams.

He said flying the UK flag displayed a lack of respect towards Welsh culture.

Shire Hall said it had been following UK government guidelines but was now flying the Red Dragon "after feedback and comments from the community".

Mr Williams has been in dispute with the building's management since last June, but the row escalated on 1 March this year when the former deputy head teacher realised the council-owned building - which houses a museum and is run by Monmouthshire council - was not following what staff had told him was its policy of flying the Welsh flag on St David's Day.

"It's a disgrace no Welsh flag was flown on St David's Day," Mr Williams told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He added he was told it was not flown on the Welsh patron saint's day because of a hail storm and a weak flag pole.

Peter Williams
Peter Williams first raised concerns in June 2023 when he was told the union jack must be flown above the Welsh banner

He established the venue had been following guidance on flag flying issued by the UK government that only applied to England.

Once this had been pointed out, Mr Williams said staff at the building were "very supportive and dismayed by the situation", and that the Welsh flag "is now flying proudly on Monmouth Shire Hall".

It is an 18th Century Grade I-listed building that was the location of the high treason trial for Chartist leaders for their role in the Newport Rising of the mid-19th century.

Mr Williams first raised concerns in June 2023 when he was told the union jack must be flown above the Welsh banner but the "integrity of the flagpole" meant that was not possible.

Staff then emailed him a copy of the protocol it was following, titled UK Government: Flying Flags; A plain English Guide.

Mr Williams said he then pointed out the protocol applies only in England, and that he later received confirmation from the Welsh government it had issued no diktat to local authorities on flying flags from their buildings.

A royal fan holds aloft the Welsh flag outside Buckingham Palace
Shire Hall had been following guidance for buildings in England

"I've had no response on who is responsible for implementing English guidelines here in Wales," said Mr Williams, who moved with his wife to Monmouthshire in November 2020.

He is originally from Aberdare but had spent more than 30 years living in the West Midlands in England.

He said he was concerned flying the union jack was symptomatic of a lack of respect towards Welsh culture in the area.

"I just picked up the vibe in Monmouth that there is anti-Welsh sentiment such as letters in the newspapers complaining about the Welsh language or bilingualism," he added.

A Monmouthshire council spokesman said: "After feedback and comments from the community about flying the Welsh flag, we are proudly doing so for the coming months at the Shire Hall.

"We will review options to consider flag mountings and future arrangements."