Britain’s war on street signs

The government is conducting a
review into the use of signs, bollards and advertising hoardings in Britain,
claiming they are a waste of money.

Senior cabinet members are worried
streets are “losing their English character” as councils mount traffic
signs and hoardings, squandering taxpayers’ finance in the process.

The government will complete its
research into street furniture in spring 2011, publishing advice for councils
later that year.

The communities’ secretary, Eric Pickles,
and the transport secretary, Philip Hammond, have written to council leaders
calling on them to reduce the number of signs and other “street
clutter” and urging them to wage war on “bossy bollards”.

The transport department says in
some cases councils are putting up signage they mistakenly believe is legally
required. It is calling on councils across Britain to crack down on street
furniture, although confusingly Pickles announced the project by saying streets
are losing “their English character”.

While some signs and street
furniture are required by law, the government says that for such items to be
most effective they should be kept to a minimum.

To assist councils with the task of
determining which street signs should be removed the transport department will
review traffic signs policy before publishing new advice on how to reduce signs
and railings.

“We are being overrun by
scruffy signs, bossy bollards, patchwork paving and railed off roads – wasting
taxpayers’ money that could be better spent on fixing potholes or keeping
council tax down. We need to ‘cut the clutter’, said Pickles.

One of the examples listed by the
DfT as having its character spoiled was the cathedral city of Salisbury in
Wiltshire, which it said was littered with bollards – one parking area for 53
cars having 63 bollards.

The DfT also said that the removal
of street clutter from Kensington High Street in west London had reduced
accidents by up to 47 per cent.


Advertising hoardings at the Olympic Park Strat-ford, east London, in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
Photo: The Guardian