Should the bustard flag of Wiltshire be flown more often across the county, and even in the skies over Swindon?

Government Minister Jake Berry at the Department of Communities and Local Government certainly thinks so.

But Swindon and Wiltshire councils say, while they’re good friends, and work together closely, that it probably won’t happen.

Mr Berry thinks historic counties should be reasserting themselves, and their history whatever the current local government arrangements, and is reported to have instructed civil servants at DHCLG to draw up new advice telling town halls to promote links to traditional counties.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “For years, town hall bureaucrats have been obsessed with modern metropolitan boroughs that divorce people from their historic birthright and created meaningless agglomerations like Humberside.

“Our historic counties are at the heart of communities and are part of the fabric of British society that has been woven into our national story since Saxon times.”

“The English lion has been reduced to the Cheshire Cat by wet civic adherence to local government reorganisations. But with Brexit just around the corner it’s time he roared again across England.”

The splitting of Swindon and Wiltshire into two different councils in 1997 is precisely what Mr Berry is referring to.

For more than 1,000 years Swindon and its environs were an integral part of Wiltshire.

A Wiltshire council wouldn’t suggest it thought its flag should be seen in Swindon – but possibly it wouldn’t mind too much. A spokesman said: “The Bustard Flag of Wiltshire was adopted by Wiltshire Council at the Full Council meeting on 1 December 2009.

“The flag flies daily at County Hall, Trowbridge unless other occasions require a different flag to be flown such as the Union Flag or the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day.

“We welcome anyone flying the Bustard Flag to represent and celebrate Wiltshire.”

Councillor David Renard, the leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We are extremely proud to be part of Wiltshire and continue to work hard with partner organisations to make the county a great place to live, work and visit. The heritage of Wiltshire is taught within our schools and we also support the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre to ensure our past is celebrated with residents and visitors alike.

“But we are also incredibly proud of Swindon’s own history, which is why we fly the Borough Flag. This incorporates the town’s coat of arms reflecting not only Swindon’s railway and industrial heritage, but also the Goddard and Villet families who played such an important role in the town’s history and laid the foundations for the Swindon we know and love today.”

Both the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Rose Troughton, and the High Sheriff Nicky Alberry represent the historic county of Wiltshire, which includes Swindon.

Local historian Nick Baxter, who bills himself the Wiltshire History Man, sees the minister’s point.

Mr Baxter, who lives in Calne and previously lived in Marlborough said: “At the Swindon and Wiltshire historical society we treat the two as very closely linked – you rarely see a mention of Wiltshire in Swindon, and I understand that – but its history as part Wiltshire is very important to Swindon. And Swindon is very important to Wiltshire.

“When Brunel turned up Swindon was just a small town on top of a hill, and it was very much part of the county and Wiltshire is very much a part of the town’s identity. Its boundary extends past the town and includes Highworth, which is a massively important town in Wiltshire’s history.”

Tracy Parker, chairman of Trowbridge Chamber led a campaign to encourage Trowbridge shops to fly their county flag last year to fly the flag for the county.

Mr Baxter said emphasising links with Swindon would also be good for the wider county: “Most of the hotels and tourist accommodation is in Swindon, so if we want to attract people to Wiltshire, they’ll have to stay in Swindon, so tourists need to know they’re so closely linked.

The historian, who lives in Calne after years living in Marlborough added: “I’d go so far as to say that you can’t really understand Wiltshire history without understanding the history of Wessex, going back even further.”