A few weeks ago Ely Online ran a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article about Cambridge County Council’s East Highways Division dawn raid on ‘unauthorised’ advertising boards – boards that help promote shops that are not easy to come across should you be visiting Ely for the first time.
Some readers raised the valid point that nearly all cars that park along High Street over-run onto the pavement (this happens because when High Street was renovated a few years ago all the standard road kerbs were removed for low profile versions for pedestrianisation.) causing a worse obstruction than the advertising boards. Ely Online wrote to Cambridge County Council and today received an email in response to the article. A bit further down we publish that email in full with no alterations.
Before that Ely Online would like to point out an observation that was brought to our attention recently that is – at best – highly hypercritical after the council’s holier-than-thou attitude over the removal of some Ely shop’s pavement signs. So imagine our surprise when we found the Council’s own advertising boards in the worst possible location, roundabouts. The council have the sponsored (yes they are also making money from the signs) ‘A boards’ placed on many of Ely’s very busy roundabouts. Surely this is a distraction to the motorists or do different rules apply here?
So imagine our surprise when we found the Council’s own advertising boards in possibly the worst location, roundabouts.
So just to reiterate (again) what CCC stated about the City Centre advertising boards: ‘Illegal signs are a safety issue as they create hazards and distract drivers and can cause confusion’. The only thing wrong with that sentence in relation to this advertising board is ‘illegal’, for sure it is a safety issue and certainly something that is a hazard that distracts drivers when they should be concentrating on what traffic is coming from the right of the roundabout. It also raises questions as to whether CCC received any money for this and if so where did it go?
Anyway, as Richard writes in his email: ‘When the county council places signs on the highway we assess the impact on other road users and if we get things wrong we are liable for our actions.’ So Ey Online wonders what what Mr. Preston is doing about these dangerous and distracting signs?
Here’s the email from Cambridge County Council…
East Highways Division – A Response
Dear Mr. Bedingfield
With reference to your story on unauthorised signs I would make the following comments:
The £20 recovery charge is intended to cover some of the costs incurred in enforcing against unauthorised signs. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for the unauthorised actions of others?
If you have any evidence of what you call ‘reprisals’ or ‘retaliation’ please let me know details and I will investigate. If this refers to officers simply carrying out their responsibilities, then the terms are inappropriate.
On the issues of footway parking and over run, we do not have any powers to enforce against this.
The use of the term ‘authorinazi’ is at best unfortunate and probably says more about your publication than the county council.
When the county council places signs on the highway we assess the impact on other road users and if we get things wrong we are liable for our actions. With many traders, there is little consideration given to highway users, particularly the elderly, frail and disabled, when placing their signs on street and of course they take no responsibilities for their actions.
With regard to your hope that an agreement can be reached, our policy is quite clear that we will are not in a position to authorise traders signs on the highway and we will take enforcement action to protect the interests of the public when appropriate.
On the issues of footway parking and over run, we do not have any powers to enforce against this, this being a police responsibility. We have raised these issues with the police to encourage action to be taken.
If advertising is important to traders then they are encouraged to seek advise from the planning authority over how this can be done within the law.
I leave you with this question – what would be the attitude of a trader if the county council came along and erected one of its signs on their forecourt without permission and regard to their customers?