BOLTON at Home bosses have done a U-turn over a ban that prevented staff from flying England flags from their own cars during the World Cup.

The prohibition was hastily withdrawn yesterday after The Bolton News reported that all employees had been told not to display car flags, stickers, posters and “other World Cup merchandise”.

The ban applied to public offices, branded vehicles and even workers’ own cars if they were used for work.

Now, Bolton at Home bosses have ditched the ban, saying they do not want to treat their workers differently to other public sector employers in Bolton.

One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m glad they got rid of the ban. It just goes to show how petty-minded and pathetic they are.”

A spokesman for the organisation, which employs about 1,200 people and manages Bolton’s 18,500 council houses, said: “It has been the custom and practice at Bolton at Home to issue protocols to our staff at the time of the World Cup to enable them to make decisions regarding leave.

“We have a consistent practice with regards to not displaying flags, banners, etc, in our branded vehicles and employees’ own vehicles where they are receiving payment for using their vehicle on company business.

“However, in light of the decision taken by other public sector organisations within the town, we feel it would be inappropriate to treat our staff differently.

“Therefore, with regards to the displaying of flags on vehicles, we are happy for our staff to display flags for whichever national team they wish.”

He added that Bolton at Home was not a “killjoy” organisation, as it supported a number of fun World Cup schemes, including Bolton World Cup 4s, a community tournament, and working with youth clubs in Rumworth to help youngsters design their own World Cup flag.

Bolton at Home workers were furious when they received an e-mail stipulating rules they must follow during the World Cup.

Alongside common sense advice about taking leave, the message ordered the flag ban and told people not to use their work phones to check scores.

Bolton Council and NHS Bolton both said they had no intention to issue World Cup protocols.