War of words over car park advert plans

A ROW has erupted between members of a Suffolk council over plans which would see advertisements in car parks – with one councillor branding the idea as “crass.

By John Howard

A ROW has erupted between members of a Suffolk council over plans which would see advertisements in car parks - with one councillor branding the idea as “crass.”

The Conservative/Independent-run Mid Suffolk District Council is investigating the idea at Stowmarket, Needham Market and possibly Eye in a move that could raise the authority £6,000 extra a year in revenue.

Officers describe the car parks as valuable assets that can be used to generate more money and have been told to investigate the matter further after being approached by the firm On Brand International, from Colchester Business Park.

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The company would pay the district council £100 a square metre every year when they sell on the space as advertising for other firms.

At this stage car parks at the Meadow Centre, Iliffe(crrct) Way, Bury Street, and Milton Road in Stowmarket are being considered, as are Hurstlea Road, Barretts Lane and the Station Yard in Needham Market. Eye cars parks could be a possibility at a later stage.

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Ray Lee, assets and contracts manager for the council, said it is a practice that is used at Gatwick and Luton airports and On Brand International believe they can sell advertising mats that are bonded on to the surface of Stowmarket and Needham Market car parks.

He said: “There are advertising standards for public places and that would have to be stuck to.

“The council would also have the final veto on advertising content, if we felt some were unsuitable.''

Conservative councillor Edward Alcock said: “I am keen to make as much revenue as possible from car parks.

“It does not have to be Stowmarket shops or businesses advertising, it could be the bigger brands that sell in Asda in the town.''

Fellow Conservative Roy Barker said: “It's right to try one or two sites and feel our way with this.

“There would need to be care about the type of adverts being put down, but the council could have a say on that.''

And Andrew Stringer, a Green district councillor, said: “Why is the council even entertaining this?

“There has to be a line. Are we that desperate to make small amounts of money that we desecrate conservation areas with advertising on the road?

“This just amazes me. Drivers should be looking for any pedestrians, not at advertising, and there must be safety implications with this.

“It's crass, we should not be selling out to multinational companies letting them advertise in the road. We should not waste our time with this.''

Councillors on the economy policy panel, meeting at their Needham Market offices on Tuesday evening, voted to allow officers to explore the approach from the Colchester business further and then report back to councillors before any final decision is reached.

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