EUROPEAN officials have been condemned for fining the University of Northampton more that £56,000 for failing to display the Euro flag outside the college.
It has been revealed in Parliament that the university was fined £56,477 for not displaying the European logo on a board outside the college’s Newton Building in St George’s Avenue.
The fine was imposed by European officials because money from the European Regional Development Fund had been used to fund new facilities inside the Newton Building.
The fine has been labelled ‘astronomical’ by the Conservative MP for Northampton North, Michael Ellis, who said the money should be paid back to the university immediately.
He said: “It’s outrageous. These European dictocrats shouldn’t be worrying about their egos or wasting taxpayer’s money on investigating these matters.
“This is British taxpayer’s money being wasted on absurd self-publicity. There’s not an ounce of common sense being used here.”
Northampton-based Euro MP, Derek Clark, has also pledged to bring up the issue of the university’s fine in the European Parliament.
The UKIP politician 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 people how wonderful they are, but they’re nothing of the sort.”
The university was one of eight organisations in Britain to be fined for failing to follow European rules on publicity since 2007.
Other groups included Liverpool-based transport authority, Merseytravel, which was fined for ‘insufficient publicity’ and Doncaster Council, which was fined for not mentioning European funding in a radio advert. The University of Northampton has confirmed it received £2.5 million in European funding for its ‘NVision’ project, a high-tech 3D visualisation centre which allows businesses to design and develop products in 3D.
A spokesman for the university said: “Without the support of the European funding, the project would not have been possible and we appreciate their continued support.”
When he announced the European fines in Parliament, local government minister, Bob Neill, said he would push Europe to ‘sweep away’ any such penalties in the future.