Council crack-down on illegal roadside ads in Sunderland

Coun Amy Wilson
Coun Amy Wilson

A crack-down on illegal roadside advertising is under way in Sunderland.

The City Council has agreed a new enforcement policy that could see it using its legal powers if voluntary removal fails.

A recent council survey counted around 100 illegal advertising signs on the city's highways network.

Coun Amy Wilson, the City Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Transportation, said: "The City Council recognises that businesses want to advertise and it has no problem with this when done legally.

"However, where advertising is displayed unlawfully, it has the potential to cause and make our city look unattractive to residents and to visitors. We're expecting many thousands of visitors for two of our biggest events in coming weeks - the Tall Ships Races and the Sunderland Airshow - and in coming weeks will be contacting advertisers about voluntary removal.

"Illegal roadside advertising also has the potential to be a safety hazard for highways users. That's why there is an appropriate official process that businesses should be following if they want to advertise near our city's roads.

"If the council cannot secure voluntary removal then there could be enforcement.

"The council welcomes businesses to our city and it wants to see appropriate advertising. There are many opportunities to advertise, such as on some city roundabouts, and the council welcomes enquiries about all these opportunities.

"I know many residents, visitors, and indeed firms and businesses, have strong opinions on this. It's only right and proper, and of course legally correct, that everyone follows the same rules and regulations on this matter."

The council's measures for securing compliance will include:

* Regular inspections of highway routes and council officers will remove signs in accordance with their legal powers, such as if signs are on public land;

* A focus on illegal signs sited alongside the major arterial routes entering the city centre from the A19 or the city boundary, such as the A1018 and Commercial Road from the south, A690, A183 and A1231 from the west and the A1018 and A183 from the north and those located to the west of the A19 such as the A1231 and A182;

* Officers will deal with illegal signs in other locations in response to complaints received from the public or where they are considered to create a risk to safety;

* The council's enforcement action will also be applied to vehicles or trailers parked in fields, on verges, or in lay-bys, that are being used as principally for adverts.

Displaying roadside advertisement without consent can result in a maximum fine of £2,500 plus £250 a day on conviction for a continuing offence. The advertiser, the company that sells the advertisement and the landowner are all potentially liable to prosecution.

Coun Wilson added: "If there are companies and businesses with questions about roadside advertising, please, in the first instance, always contact the council for advice.

"The council can then advise about what's appropriate and what's legal. If we follow this route in the first place, then enforcement action can be avoided."