Campaign to clear up the roadsides

PUBLISHED: 23:13 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:50 20 February 2013

M42

M42

Our roadsides are littered with unnecessary clutter - and we don't just mean litter thrown from passing cars. The approach to every town has notice after notice along the roadside, advertising hoardings have proliferated in recent years.

Our roadsides are littered with unnecessary clutter - and we don't just mean litter thrown from passing cars. The approach to every town has notice after notice along the roadside, advertising hoardings have proliferated in recent years and, quite frankly, the countryside is looking a mess as a result. Nicholas Butler of the Campaign to Protect Rural England describes the problem in Warwickshire.

A friendly church spire beckons out of the landscape and soon we are driving into a typically charming Warwickshire village, slowing down as we pass the 30 mile an hour speed limit sign.

In fact, there are four signs, with three lines, two lines, one line and finally the sign proper, and 30 MPH painted in vast capitals on the road. Another sign lights up. '30 MPH' it says and, rightly or wrongly, 'TOO FAST.' Yet another threatens us with speed cameras. Where? They are well hidden. Other signs say, '30 MPH: Have you forgotten?' As we leave, a final sign thanks us, sincerely or with bitter sarcasm, for driving slowly.

They spoil the beauty of this village, do these signs. There is a restless quality about them. They tell us that the village is of no importance; it only exists as somewhere on the road to somewhere else.

So do the directional signs. At any reasonably important junction you will find towns on one sign, villages on another, together with Site of Historical Interest, Give Way, and 30 MPH, or whatever the speed is, to keep them company.

Signs are essential. We must know how fast to go and in which direction. But too many defeat their own purpose, confuse the motorist and cause accidents. So we have joined forces with the RAC and English Heritage to wage war against this unnecessary clutter .

How many or few signs we really need is debatable. What we need not at all are roadside advertisements on the sides of vehicles, allegedly mobile but in practice static. Hideous in themselves, they hide the countryside and distract motorists.

No long ago there was a crop of these uglinesses beside the M40, but the Warwick District Council, to its credit, swept them away.

However, on the M42, at about half a mile north of Junction 3A with the M40, there is a clump of three lorries with advertisements on them. And so we told the Stratford-on-Avon District Council three Februarys ago, giving them the grid reference and photographs.

We prodded the Council a second and a third time in 2006, and gave a fourth prod at the end of 2007. Last year we prodded again, as did the local MP, John Maples, until in July the Council finally said it would take enforcement action. It sent a strong letter or so to the offenders, but undeterred even by the threat of criminal proceedings the lorries remain.

As I write this article, the lorries and their unneeded, unwanted display, are still there. Come on, Stratford! If Warwick can do it, you can. We want to look at the countryside, not advertising copy.

Do you know of any place in the county where there is unnecessary signage or roadside advertisements? Send us photographs and grid references; we will take immediate action.

Are there any environmental matters that interest or concern you? Find out more about the CPRE at www.cprewarwickshire.org.uk or phone 01926 494597.

Editorial comment

We heartily endorse the campaign by the CPRE, English Heritage and the RAC. There are very few roads you can drive along without being bombarded by signs. The ironic thing is that some of the signs are put their by organisations that purportedly support the enjoyment of the countryside. I frequently see advertisements nailed to trees advertising woodlands for sale. I hate to see lorries parked in fields of sheep by the motorway. When I drive towards Bidford-on-Avon from the Honeybourne direction there are umpteen signs warning me of the weak bridge, the speed limit, the warning of cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge at Bidford is hundreds of years old, the view is one of the prettier in the county but it's ruined by excessive signage. It's the same in many of our towns. Just walk around a town you know well and count the signs - you'll be surprised just how many there are. Then count the ones that are absolutely essential - you'll be surprised how few there are!

We'd love to hear from you with your views and you can send us your photos of roadside clutter. Click here to submit your pictures

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