The University of Northampton has been fined Â£56,477 for not displaying the EU emblem on a board outside the university buildings.
The university was fined because, after taking money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide new facilities in its Newton building, it was required to display the EU logo.
So technically the university was breaching EU funding rules.
But it has of course got the Eurosceptics in a lather.
Local Conservative MP for Northampton North Michael Ellis called the fine ‘astronomical’ and said ‘It’s outrageous. These European dictocrats shouldn’t be worrying about their egos or Âwasting taxpayers’ money on investigating these matters. This is British taxpayers’ money being wasted on absurd self-publicity. There’s not an ounce of common sense being used here.’
The Northampton MEP, UKIP’s Derek Clark said ‘This whole thing is an absolute disgrace and an awful thing to do to a university. These European officials insist on having flags put up to tell Âpeople how wonderful they are, but they’re nothing of the sort.’
Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance also waded in with ‘It’s outrageous that Eurocrats are now trying to dictate which flags British institutions must fly. If EU grants come with ridiculous strings attached then the university should reconsider whether they want funding from a source that’s so devoted to pathetic pedantry like this. British taxpayers give millions to the EU every day and a large amount of it is wasted on publicity and flag-checking bureaucrats.’
Northampton is not the only body to receive such a fine. As the Mail points out half a million pounds has been handed back to the ERDF in fines since 2000. These include Merseytravel and Doncaster council.
But what is not clear from all this is whether the fine was the first response when the ERDF realised there was no logo being displayed. Or whether the university was given warnings and did not comply.
Bit that aside, do we really need the ERDF recycling our tax money back to us and pay for all the red tape as well?