Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has raised the flag of the British Virgin Islands outside the Department for Communities and Local Government in Whitehall, London, to mark St Ursula’s Day - the patron saint of the Islands - and as part of the flag flying programme by the Department in this Jubilee year.
In June, the Government published an Overseas Territories White Paper; one of the goals is to raise awareness in the United Kingdom of these British communities, lands and seas around the world.
Last month, Mr Pickles announced a relaxation of the rules relating to the flying of flags to make it easier for the public to fly a wider range of flags without the need for express consent which could cost up to £335. The changes will increase the number of flags that people can fly, promoting integration and community spirit.
Mr Pickles has asked for the flags of the United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories - from Anguilla to the Turks and Caicos Islands - to be proudly flown by the Department as part of a formal recognition of the continued important and close relationship with the country. This follows from a programme of flying England’s county flags last year. The British Virgin Islands’ flag is being flown alongside the United Kingdom’s Union flag, which is flown all year round.
The flags will be flown at appropriate times in the coming months to recognise national days of significance. Britain has 14 Overseas Territories which encompass over 600,000 square miles and are home to 260,000 people - more than Nottingham or Newcastle. The Department provides advice and guidance to Territory Governments in areas where it has relevant expertise - in particular planning, housing, and fire safety and rescue services.
A major tourist destination and economic centre, the British Virgin Islands consist of around sixty different islands which are home to just under 30,000 people. At the ceremony of hoisting the British Virgin Islands’ flag, Eric Pickles said:
I’m delighted to see the flag of the British Virgin Islands flying proudly outside my Department. British Overseas Territories play a vital role in our sense of national identity and the Government’s vision is for the Territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people.
I look forward to seeing many more flags of the UK’s overseas territories flying in the coming months especially in this year of celebration.