By Ian Onions, Political Editor
CONSERVATIONISTS have condemned plans to introduce hundreds of advertising banners suspended from lamp posts in Bristol‘s streets.
They say the banners are a money-making gimmick by the cash-strapped city council which will clutter the streets and give visitors a bad impression.
The city council is applying for planning permission to itself so they can be introduced in 17 areas of the city. In Southville, for example, there would be 28 banners but it is very difficult from the small-scale maps in the documents to pinpoint exactly where the banners will be.
Civic Society chairman Stephen Wickham said: “They are going to spoil the street scene and in some cases, spoil people’s views. They will be some residents who will suddenly discover these banners outside their bedroom windows – but by then it will be too late.”
Mr Wickham claimed the council had not properly consulted with the public over the banners and would be considered by planning officers under delegated powers which means the issue will not be discussed in public by councillors at a planning committee.
He said: “We’ve got enough advertising in our busiest streets already. There are non-illuminated signs over shops, A-boards outside premises, ads on bus shelters in some cases, billboards.
“If we have all these banners introduced, then it will simply create more clutter in our streets which I don’t think the vast majority of people want to see.”
He said some advertising had been banned such pole-dancing clubs, radar detectors and anything that promoted guns.
But he said this left a “wide-open horizon” for many products which people would not regard as suitable.
The Civic Society also believes the banners fly in the face of council policy to improve the street scene by reducing the number of signs, adverts and posters.
Hamilton Caswell, spokesman for the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, said: “We had a meeting about this last week and the unanimous view was that the banners would be wholly inappropriate for conservation areas because they would create clutter and fly in the face of the council’s own conservation policies.
“The banners appear to be an attempt at money-making at the expense of the dignity and character of central Bristol.”
Council spokesman Peter Holt said: “We’ve long used various lamp-posts around the city for advertising banners – around Temple Meads, the Centre, up Park Street, all around Cabot Circus and Broadmead, and out of the city centre too, such as around the County Cricket Ground.
“As this has often been on an irregular basis, we haven’t always needed planning consent, and therefore haven’t formally asked the public what they think. By applying for permission now – and by hearing what people think – we’ll be in a better position to use them appropriately.
“Much of the time, we’ve used these banners to promote events (such as the Bristol Half Marathon) and for social marketing campaigns (like quitting smoking or exercise promotion campaigns) rather than as commercial advertising – although we are keen too to open them up to businesses, including small shops, to help promote local businesses.
“These planning applications are examples of when the council is both the applicant and also the planning authority.
“In such cases, we are always scrupulously careful to ensure that we subject the applications to the same rigorous standards as we would if the applications came from anybody else.
“For that reason, we welcome the responses from the public, and the coverage in the Evening Post, which will all be taken properly into account before permission is granted or rejected.”
People can register their comments here
The deadline is May 26.