HEARTLESS council bosses sent an 85-year-old pensioner a letter threatening to take him to court - after charging him over £100 to remove three flags from a local landmark.


Harry McEachan draped a trio of Italian banners on Magus the Viking to celebrate Largs links with Italy after the Azzurri triumphed in the final of Euro 2020.
They were removed just hours later by council chiefs - who then sent the stunned pensioner a £114 for their workmen's time.
He has now received a final demand to cough up for the removal costs by North Ayrshire Council - or face imminent legal action.
Harry said: "I thought after the Italy Euros victory that it would be fun to decorate Magnus in the Italian colours, given the local connection with the country.
"I got up and started at 4am and was finished by 6am with the help of an extending ladder, some string and a roll of duct tape.
"There was already a Union Jack Flag attached to the tip of the spear and three flags of St George, so other people had the same idea before the big game. It was all some light-hearted fun, especially after lockdown. "
After heading home for a sleep, the OAP returned to the statue at 10am to see that the flags had disappeared.
Harry, who lives in Sandringham, said: "I phoned the council headquarters and spoke to Streetscene asking if the stuff could be given back to me, only to be told that they had all been destroyed in the removal process.
"What happened was quite vindictive, even spiteful. To me it is an Irvine-based council denying a bit of enjoyment to many in Largs who are of Italian descent. Largs would not be the attraction that it without the influence of over 100 years of Italian families living locally.
"The swift removal of those flags denied some locals the chance to share in the joy of their home country and denied the giant Magnus the chance to be the town's star attraction for a day or two."
Harry says he is determined to stand firm and insists he won't be bullied into coughing up.
He said: "These people are asking for over £100 for taking down three flags. That must be nice work if you can get it. I have been on to my lawyer to contest this.
"It was just a bit of frivolous fun and I think the reaction from the council is way over the top.
"They have just handed it to debt collectors, which for some people could be quite frightening.
"I won't want to pay a penny - and I am prepared to go to court to argue my point."
It is 30 years next month since Harry led a community campaign to stop North Ayrshire Council from digging up the esplanade in front of Nardini's, ironically where Magnus now stands. His 'Save Largs seafront' campaign saw the esplanade turned into a campsite as local people united to halt the diggers. It made headline news around Scotland and attracted support from businesses, the public and local nursery groups, eventually forcing council bosses into a u-turn.
A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We received a complaint about this matter from a member of the public and subsequently investigated.
“We do not seek to spoil anybody’s light-hearted fun but others in the community do not always see matters the same way and, more importantly, it is an offence to attach items, in this case numerous items, to public statues or other street furniture."
“There is also the safety issue and the individual has not only put himself at risk but our officers too during the installation and removal. The placement of the cones which were unsecured to the statue could also have fallen causing injury to innocent members of the public.”
The spokesperson added: “The gentleman called to complain that we had removed the items and asked for them to be returned. Unfortunately these had been damaged when being removed by our Streetscene officers.
“We did explain to the gentleman that he would receive an invoice for the work so that we could recover this cost to the public purse.
“There has been no challenge to the invoice and our finance team have lettered reminding him of the outstanding amount.”