Anger at roundabout signs plan

PLANNING officials will meet tonight to debate controversial proposals to put advertising boards on roundabouts throughout the Colchester area.The plans would see signs at 30 locations across the town which would bear the council and town crests and the name of the roundabout, all framing the name of the organisation set to sponsor the site.

PLANNING officials will meet tonight to debate controversial proposals to put advertising boards on roundabouts throughout the Colchester area.

The plans would see signs at 30 locations across the town which would bear the council and town crests and the name of the roundabout, all framing the name of the organisation set to sponsor the site.

The proposals have met with general opposition from a number of interested parties including residents, campaigners and parish councillors.

Three parish councils have objected to the application, claiming the signs would clutter the locations and may prove distracting to motorists.


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Tom Day, chairman of Eight Ash Green Parish Council, said: “We are in agreement that we do not want them. There are already enough signs and hoardings. It will just distract motorists from concentrating on the roads.”

Stanway Parish Council also objected to the application, and said “additional visual clutter is distracting to motorists and detracts from the overall appearance of the area.”

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Last month, the East Anglian Daily Times reported that the Department of Communities and Local Government had instructed planning officials and the Highways Agency to work together to tackle the problem of illegal roadside billboards.

A national countryside campaign group had encouraged Yvette Cooper, minister for housing and planning, to instruct the two groups to work together to ensure the region's highways remained free from clutter

David Williams, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England's Essex branch, said that the new plans seemed to go against the spirit of that movement.

He said: “It doesn't seem to be too far from the issues we've looked at in the past.

“Anything that distracts drivers has to be taken very seriously. It is just a bit more furniture on the roads.”

The Highways Authority does not object to the plans, and has stated that it would control the signs after the planning process was complete.

In a report to the committee, planning officers stated that the signs were well designed, and that at five locations the size of the signs would be tailored appropriately to the size of the roundabouts.

The report added: “Each set of signs would have to be subject to a detailed audit to determine whether highway safety is unacceptably compromised.”

The meeting of the borough council planning committee takes place tonight with councillors set to make a decision on the application.

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