Warning shots fired in Massive Attack paintball row

Advertising trailer parked up on a farm track that runs alongside the A19 road between Seaton and the A690 junction.
Advertising trailer parked up on a farm track that runs alongside the A19 road between Seaton and the A690 junction.
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PAINTBALL bosses have been ordered to remove their advertising hoarding from beside the A19.

Highways bosses claimed the 8ft high sign, next to the southbound carriageway, could cause accidents, but Massive Attack Paintballing and Sharpley Golf Course disagree and are planning to appeal.

Sunderland City Council decided the advert, which has been in place for about eight years on a lorry trailer between the A690 and Seaham junctions, was a “potential distraction to motorists.”

Massive Attack Paintballing had applied for planning permission after work by the Highways Agency to address unauthorised roadside adverts.

In the refusal notice, the council’s deputy chief executive Janet Johnson said: “Despite the council’s commitment to working constructively with the applicant in a positive and probative manner, the proposed development is contrary to the policies referred to in the reasons for refusal and it has not been possible to reach an agreed solution.”

The Weightman family owns the golf club in Seaton and the land the sign sits on at Old Burdon Farm, while daughter Alice runs Massive Attack.

They say the businesses bring 80,000 people to the area each year, create 10 full-time and 15 part-time jobs and pumps money into the economy.

Simon Weightman criticised the council’s decision. “It think it’s bureaucracy gone mad really.It’s been there for eight years and no one has complained about it.”

He added: “It does a bit of good and helps the area.

“It’s not intrusive at all and we’ve planted trees to create a woodland at one side.”

His wife Carole said: “If it has to come down it will have a detrimental affect on our businesses.

“We ask people how they found us and a lot of people say they did because of that sign.

“I think when there is a recession on and small businesses are trying to create employment for people, I think they should consider it in a better light, because it isn’t put in place to cause accidents.

“It really doesn’t have a huge impact, otherwise somebody would have complained about it before eight years after it was put up.”

Ted Salmon, North East chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, called for a rethink by the council.

He said: “Given that this advertising has been in place for the past eight years with no cause for concern, from either the council or the Highways Agency, it seems strange that the application was refused.

“Unless the council has received a number of complaints about the advertising or the Highways Agency can show that the number of accidents has increased because of the advertising, we can’t understand why the planning permission has been refused and would ask that the decision is revised.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham