Thousands sign petition against plans for Cardiff's UK Government building to be adorned with Union Jack

020721 uk gov union jack

More than 6,000 people have signed a petition against plans for a huge Union Jack set to be adorned across a UK Government hub in Cardiff city centre.

The 11-storey building named Ty William Morgan, in the Cardiff Central Square development will be emblazoned with the UK's national flag on a vinyl advertisement.

It comes months after culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced that the Union Jack flag will be flown on all UK government buildings, every day, in a bid to create "a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us.”

The Union Jack graphic will be nine metres off the ground with dimensions measuring 32 metres in height by nine metres in width, which was approved by Cardiff's head of planning, Simon Gilbert, on June 29.

The council's report states that the advertisement is subject to a statutory time limit, with the planning application seeking an advertisement period from 1 May 2021 until 1 May 2026.The UK Government’s Cardiff Central Square Hub building was named after Bishop William Morgan in "recognition of his pivotal role in maintaining the strength of the Welsh language".

Welsh figures and pro-Welsh independence campaigners have been reacting to the design on social media.

Yes Cymru, which campaigns for Welsh independence, has begun a petition to stop the 'advertisement' being displayed.

In a statement, it said: "We believe that as the capital city of Wales, visitors, commuters and residents should not be faced with a gigantic Union Jack flag on arrival at Cardiff Central railway station.

"This decision to drape the building on Central Square is an act of political symbolism designed to promote 'muscular unionism' a reminder to the people of Wales of their subservient status in the United Kingdom.

"This flag does not represent the people of Wales and is a blatant political act designed to act as a provocation to the people of Wales."

Yes Cymru added that they want to see the permission withdrawn.

The plans were approved by Cardiff City Council's head of planning. Credit: Aecom

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: “The decision made on June 29th is in line with Welsh Government guidance - as set out in Planning Policy Wales.

“In line with this policy and having considered the application, it was concluded that the advertisement would not have any ‘adverse impact upon amenity or highway safety’, so the application was approved. This decision wasn’t made by the Planning Committee, but through an officer delegated report through the Council’s scheme of delegations.

“This application was for ‘Express Consent’, which means in planning terms, that it can only be assessed on ‘amenity’ and ‘public safety’ grounds. ‘Express Consent’ applications cannot be refused if any party considers it to be misleading, unnecessary or offensive in anyway on moral grounds . Put simply, we cannot refuse an application because it is not popular, or because people do not like it."

But council leader Huw Thomas said he was "personally not convinced of the merits" of the proposal, adding: "I would suggest that the UK Government can further and better illustrate the benefits of the Union to Cardiff and to Wales."

Simon Hart is Secretary of State for Wales. Credit: PA Images

More than 4,000 staff from various UK Government departments and agencies can work from the hub and it has the capacity to host full UK Cabinet meetings.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Ty William Morgan is a significant UK Government building and is the first of its kind in Wales.

“As is practice with similar UK Government sites across the United Kingdom and around the world, it will feature the Union flag as part of its visual branding.

“The flag of Wales is flown at Ty William Morgan which also contains other specifically Welsh branding, while the name of the new building was chosen to reflect the UK Government’s investment in Wales and Welsh culture."

It comes as members of the Welsh Parliament have been asked to stop displaying flags when joining debates via video call.

Union flags had been displayed by Tory members Janet Finch-Saunders and Laura Anne Jones, who also had a Welsh flag.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones said: "Can I just say that I've noticed a tendency for a proliferation of flags flying behind members on Zoom this week.

"It looks as if the R rate on flags is greater than one at the moment.

"Therefore, from next week, no more flags - otherwise I'll be tempted to fly the flag of the independent tropical republic of Ceredigion behind me here.

Jamie Wallis, MP for Bridgend, is being subjected to "vile abuse" on social media because he said in Parliament yesterday that Welsh Conservative MS's should have the right to display Union Jack flags in their offices or home.