The Wessex Regionalists have condemned the daubing of a Cross of St. George symbol over the ‘Welcome to Somerset’ sign on the southbound M5 near Loxton. The sign, which displays Somerset’s emblem of a red dragon rampant, was defaced by vandals, much to the annoyance of a number of local people and other residents of the county.
In a letter to local MP, John Penrose, the treasurer of the Wessex Regionalists, David Robins said, “The issue is not the presence of the English flag but its use to disparage an older and more locally significant badge of identity. It is the equivalent of painting a Union Jack over a representation of the Welsh dragon in Wales. So long as it remains, it sends a message to all users of the M5 that local people do not value their heritage and are content to see it denigrated”.
David Robins has also contacted Highways England, but received a less than satisfactory response. They state any graffiti which is obscene or offensive will be prioritised and removed as quickly as possible. Graffiti which doesn’t meet the criteria above will therefore be logged and removed during the next round of periodic cleaning taking place in the area. The Wessex Regionalists argue defacing the historic symbol of Somerset is offensive to the people of the county.
Communications officer of the Wessex Regionalists, Rick Heyse, described the defacing of Somerset’s red dragon as “A mark of disrespect”. He added, “Beyond the act of criminal damage, this is an attempt to paint out the heritage of the county. If you are proud to be English, then respect must be shown for the counties and regions of England. Anything less is pure ignorance. We stand by the people of Somerset who do not wish to see symbols of their county such as this defaced”.
The Wessex Regionalists will continue to lobby MP’s and Highways England for the removal of the graffiti.