Officers’ mess

FOR an authority which has demonstrated a passion for clamping down on ‘rogue’ signs, Northumberland County Council could have had a field day – by prosecuting its own officers.

As if the heavy-handed bullying of small businesses and even country shows, which dared to advertise their very existence, wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that the council has, in fact, been breaking the law .

Its own signs on roundabouts, including three where the slip-road off the A1 Alnwick bypass meets Willowburn Avenue, measure 150cm by 60cm – a third bigger than the Government’s ruling for temporary advertisements.

They have attempted to defend this, stating that the signs have ‘deemed consent’ and can actually be as large as 1.5m square.

That would be fine, if the council was advertising a public notice, but it’s not – all of these adverts are for local businesses, which rent the space for the privilege.

In a nutshell, it’s yet another income stream for County Hall, and one which is actually illegal under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.

By flouting the rules they are so vigorously enforcing on the rest of us, Northumberland County Council has been caught with its proverbial pants down.

We don’t want to see signs springing up willy-nilly, but what we do want is common sense and fairness.

The funny thing is, if the officers hadn’t been so overzealous in attacking worthy endeavours such as Glanton Show, no one would have noticed.