An ex-soldier and taxi-driver from Ripon has been told he cannot show his support for injured soldiers after officials clamped down on unauthorised signs in taxis.
Bob Turner had been displaying a sticker supporting forces charity Help for Heroes in his car for the last two years, until a taxi inspector contacted him last week.
“The inspector was very sympathetic, but he told me that I had been reported by a councillor and had to remove the sticker,” Bob said.
“I just thought it was so petty, they could have ignored it. It beggars belief really.”
Mr Turner, 52, served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for six years in the 1970s and 1980s, and saw action in Northern Ireland.
Two years ago he decided to do something for other ex-servicemen and set out to climb Scafell Pike, raising £900 for Help for Heroes with sponsorship from his friends and customers around Ripon.
Since then, he has displayed the sticker to show his support for the forces charity.
However, Harrogate Borough Council rules state that taxis cannot have any signs or stickers, other than those that refer to their licence or taxi company, without council approval.
“I haven’t had any option but to remove it,” Mr Turner said.
“The council makes the rules and I have got to abide by those rules or I will lose my licence.
“If it had been a football sticker, or had been advertising something I could understand it,” he said.
Mr Turner understands the rules are in place, he added, but thought the council could have shown more understanding in his case.
As a ex-soldier, Bob said he feels strongly about the fate of wounded servicemen.
“I watched the homecoming parade through Ripon when they came back from Afghanistan last year.
“I was in tears to see the lads in wheelchairs, knowing they had lost men as well.”
Fellow taxi-driver Richard Fieldman is the chairman of Ripon Taxi Association.
“I attend meetings with the council every month and just lately there had been a massive campaign against vehicles with signs that shouldn’t be there,” he said.
“If Mr Turner had approached the council and asked for approval to display the sign, I can’t see they would have turned him down.
“I am in two minds about it.
“It’s a charity so it’s not nice to ask him to remove it, but I do agree that signs have to be approved, otherwise it gets out of hand.”
“Every driver gets a copy of the rules and regulations, so I don’t think the council are in the wrong.”
A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council confirmed that displaying the Help the Heroes sticker was against council regulations.
The council has to apply the rules “equally and fairly”, she added, and cannot set aside rules for charity stickers.
“The officer approached this as gently as he could appreciating this is a difficult issue.
“Indeed the officer concerned personally displays the “Help for Heroes” sticker in his own car and also wears the wrist band.”