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Wiltshire county's flag wars
By Sarah Jones
BBC Wiltshire

Wiltshire County Flag - Great Bustard Flag
Contestant number one: The Great Bustard Flag by Mike Prior

Wiltshire flags, it seems, are a bit like buses: A long time waiting then two come along at once.

It was back in 2007 that the official Wiltshire County flag, boasting a golden Great Bustard, was unveiled and hoisted ceremoniously over County Hall.

Now two years on the official flag of the county, that once had the support of Wiltshire County Council, is facing a flag war.

It's contender - a flag boasting a single white horse.

It was back in 2006 that Wiltshire County Council got its first glimpse of a Wiltshire County Flag being promoted by Trowbridge flag enthusiast, and local printer, Mike Prior.

Is it a 'turkey of a flag'?

Designed by Prior's daughter, graphic designer Helen Pocock, the County flag was a green and white stripy affair boasting a single gold Great Bustard as its centrepiece.

Grappling with the basic rules of flag design (who knew?), Helen Pocock came up with a County flag that was not only simple but did not exceed three colours and bore no lettering or seals.

But with a Great Bustard as its main design, did it fail at one of the most fundamental rules of flag design: the use of 'relevant symbols'?

For Chrys Fear, the man behind the second Wiltshire County Flag, it did. And the 'turkey of a flag' was not only irrelevant but an 'abomination'.

Wiltshire County Flag - White Horse Flag
Contestant number two: White Horse flag by Chrys Fear

According to Mr Fear, who's been waving his flag (a dark green one with a single white horse on it) for years, a white horse is much more iconic:

"This is already a well-recognised, traditional symbol of Wiltshire. Indeed, when I waved a home-made version of it at Glastonbury Festival 2005 I had a few people ask me if it was a Wiltshire flag, and they were people who were not even from the county.

"The bustard is not in the minds of even Wiltshire people and to most the representation of it on the flag would bring to mind turkey twizzlers."

In fact, Mr Fear felt so strongly about the 'turkey flag' that in September 2008 he set up a 'The White Horse is Wiltshire's True Flag' petition and managed to enrage 21 people enough to put their names to the recognition of 'the white horse on a green field as the true flag of Wiltshire'.

But personal slights and petitions aside, for those in the Great Bustard camp the flag has been a complete success with flags and car stickers on proud display in places as far afield as the Middle East, America and Italy.

Wiltshire is flagless again

All of which is leaving Moonrakers asking which is the true flag of Wiltshire?

Well, on December 1st, it falls to Wiltshire County Council to again decide which flag to hoist over county hall.

The Great Bustard flag, it seems, despite being chosen by councillors originally and marketed since 2007 as Wiltshire's County flag has never been formally registered with The Flag Institute.

All of which means that the County is again flagless and the space at the top of the flagpole at County Hall is up for grabs.

But which one should it be and which is better, the Great Bustard flag or the White Horse flag? Well in the immortal words of Harry Hill: "There's only one way to find out: FIGHT!"

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