OPEN letter to Coun Jeff Reid, Northumberland County Council leader, re Glanton Show signs.
YOU may have seen some of the media coverage relating to the enforcement notice served by Liz Donaldson on the secretary of the Glanton Show relating to two temporary signs advertising the show adjacent to the A697.
I have been asked by the parish council which met this week to write to you personally to express our unhappiness that county resources are being used against a community event of this nature to enforce the removal of signs which are clearly only temporary in any event.
I have no doubt that the signs are technically against the rules if Liz says so, but they have been used for many years without problems, they have been put up sensibly in a safe location and I feel that it showed a lack of judgement on her part when it is clear that they will only be there for about three to four weeks in any event.
That however is perhaps the lesser concern.
In the wider context of roadside signage the planning department has taken what seems to be a very strict position and have been very loathe to grant consent for business signs generally alongside main roads.
Tourists heading for Scotland might be forgiven for driving through the county thinking that there are very few opportunities to stop for a break while in fact they have driven past a number of excellent farm shops, cafes and restaurants which are often located in stone barns, converted farm steadings etc which by their very nature are not constructed next to a main road.
These are local businesses often of high standards of excellence, they employ local people, they attract in tourist spending which is new money coming in to our economy, and yet they have to fight the county planners.
I understand that the national rules do not prohibit many of these signs, they require a judgement to be made weighing up visual amenity and road safety, but your planners have taken a somewhat extreme stance.
We do not have to have badly designed or poorly sited signs.
Attractive informative signs need not detract from the landscape, and they would boost the economy and enhance the image of the county for visitors.
A change of policy which could dictate a presumption in favour of signs subject to good design and road safety criteria would have many positive effects.
It would benefit businesses, improve employment prospects, it would go some way to improving the perception that the rural areas are disadvantaged by the unitary authority, and best of all it would cost NCC nothing at all.
On the contrary, it might just allow you to save on the salary of an enforcement officer.
Glanton Parish Council