Looking along Scunthorpe High Street one doesn't at first seem to notice the number of advertising signs that litter the footpath.
By allowing pavement advertising signs it encourages businesses to take the law into their own hands. Once people start doing this regularly, however reasonable it may be to begin with, it soon gets out of hand and becomes unreasonable. Admittedly the pedestrianised area of the High Street is wide enough for these signs not to be so much of a hazard however there are other areas of the town centre where footpaths are narrower and thus cause problems with pushchairs and mobility scooters.
Scunthorpe High Street
Dog mess, litter, cycling, anti-social behaviour are, of course, also a deterrent to walking along the High Street but can be difficult & expensive to prevent or prosecute. Obstructions like these signs are easy and cheap to prevent or prosecute in comparison as offenders are property owners who can be easily traced and are able to pay costs.
1. The Law: (a) The Council has the power "to require the removal of anything deposited on a highway so as to constitute a nuisance" (Highways Act, 1980, Section 149).
(b) The Council has the power "to require that free passage along the highway is not wilfully obstructed in any way (Highways Act, 1980, Section 137).
(c) The Council has a duty "to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of the highway (Highways Act, 1980, Section 130).
(d) The Council has the power "to require that vehicles are not driven on footways and verges" (Highways Act, 1835, Section 72; Road Traffic Act, 1988, Section 191).
(e) Police are required not to show "favour or affection" towards some and "malice or ill-will" towards others (Police Act, 1964, Section 18 and Second Schedule). [ie prosecuting a pedestrian for obstructing vehicles by illegally leaving their possessions on the road but not prosecuting vehicle owners for illegally leaving their possessions (cars) on the footway.] Note: The term "highway" includes both the carriageway (road) and the footway (pavement).
Advertising signs. (a) Should be prosecuted according to 1 (a), (b), (c), (e).
(b) If these signs were placed on the carriageway they would be removed immediately, even though they obstruct a smaller proportion than when on the pavement. Cars could slow down and take care to avoid the signs, as pedestrians have to. The Highways Act applies equally to the road and the footway. Pedestrians are being discriminated against [1 (e) above].
(c) Infringes the rights of pedestrians to their use of public property.
(d) Presents a real danger whatever their size (as is recognised by motorists).
(e) Due to lack of prosecution it has become socially acceptable by businesses.
(f) The disabled and those with children suffer the most.
(g) Signs may represent a health hazard indoors as dogs regularly urinate on them.
(h) Enforcement would encourage walking as per Government policy.
(i) Businesses have many legal alternative ways to advertise. Do the people of Scunthorpe have any real concerns about the use of these signs?
Is it time North Lincolnshire Council took a more pro-active roll in tackling business owners who use them? Would a clampdown be seen as being to harsh on businesses who after all are only trying to make a living by, in some cases, advertising their premises which may lay off the beaten track.
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