Public buildings opened up for ads

PUBLIC buildings, roundabouts and lampposts will soon be adorned with commercial advertising slogans in a bid to raise revenue for a cash-strapped council.

PUBLIC buildings, roundabouts and lampposts will soon be adorned with commercial advertising slogans in a bid to raise revenue for a cash-strapped council.

Essex County Council is in the final throes of sensitive negotiations with a private partner who will be responsible for erecting billboards and hoardings on civic properties.

A contract, which could be worth £300,000 a year to the council, is due to be signed imminently.

The Tory-controlled authority, which is the biggest landowner in Essex, was forced to look onto the idea of selling advertising space as part of its efforts to keep a lid on council tax hikes.


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Although no building or plot of land has been ruled out it is thought unlikely that billboards will soon start sprouting up in school playgrounds or on County Hall.

However, traditionalists have criticised the plans claiming they mark an ever-advancing tide of corporate commercialism into all aspects of modern life.

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Proposals to advertise on lampposts, which regularly have to be cleared of illegal fly-posting, have also been met with charges of hypocrisy.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: "The idea behind using council-owned assets for suitable advertising is to raise revenue which, in turn, will help us keep council tax increases down.

"The idea of using assets for advertising has proved successful in other parts of the country, notably Milton Keynes, and our district and borough councils have used such schemes to good effect.

"The types of assets we shall be looking at include roundabouts, boundary signs, civic amenity sites and possibly lampposts.

"In the first year, our estimates show a net revenue of £150,000 rising to about £300,000 in subsequent years.

"We shall be continuing our discussions with interested groups, especially environmental groups, to ensure views about this positive idea to ensure their aspirations are included in the action plan."

But a spokesman for the Council for the Protection of Rural Essex said he had not heard of any talks between his group and the council.

David Simmonds said: "We have a real issue with these plans, particularly if slogans start appearing on roundabouts in rural areas.

"And I think it's rather hypocritical for the council to start putting adverts on lampposts when they talk so much about flyposters.

"They will be ugly and the council needs to be bound by the same considerations as anybody else."

Paul Sztumpf, leader of the Labour opposition group at County Hall, said: "I'm not in favour of advertising for advertising's sake. There's a real risk that if our property is used just for company advertising then we could undermine civic pride – and for £300,000 a year, that's not worth it."

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