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Stop furnishing our roads with clutter

Necessary road signs, railings, lights and other equipment are vital for the safety of motorists and promoting smooth and efficient traffic flow.

However, some local authorities across the country are taking the installation of road signage way too far, leading to untidy streets and confusion galore for motorists who can’t see the wood for the trees, or the road for the road signs….

This so-called ‘street furniture’ issue has caused even the Department for Transport (DfT) to screech to a frustrating halt and call for councils to ‘de-clutter’ streets and roads across the country (within reason, of course).

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond have expressed concern that unnecessary signs, railings and advertising hoardings are damaging the character of the country’s urban spaces.

Mr Pickles said: “Our streets are losing their English character. We are being overrun by scruffy signs, bossy bollards, patchwork paving and railed off roads, wasting taxpayers’ money that could be better spent on fixing potholes or keeping council tax down. We need to ‘cut the clutter’.

“Too many overly cautious townhall officials are citing safety regulations as the reason for cluttering up our streets with an obstacle course when the truth is very little is dictated by law. Common sense tells us uncluttered streets have a fresher, freer authentic feel, which are safer and easier to maintain.”

One roundabout in Southampton is famous for its 59 traffic lights. However, the local council doesn’t seem to think that’s enough as it plans to install more lights at the Millbrook roundabout to help traffic flow to a new recycling and rubbish park nearby.

Other examples include a parking area for 53 cars in Salisbury with 63 bollards, and Kensington High Street, which had street clutter removed, helping reduce accidents by up to 47 per cent.

What is this addiction to signals?  The Government argues that many local authorities sometimes overdo traffic signs because of a mistaken belief that they are legally required.  However, the Government says that for signs to be most effective, they should be kept to a minimum.

Maybe it is time, as the Communities Secretary says, to ‘cut the clutter’.

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