Call to ban outdoor adverts – especially digital ones

Published on: 26 May 2017

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DO YOU think advertising billboards help brighten up the streets of South Bristol? Or do you find them a blight on the cityscape?

Campaigners are starting a conversation about outdoor advertising in the hope that the number of billboards can be reduced – especially in community shopping areas such as North Street, Southville.

“Outdoor advertising is unique in that there’s a lack of consent,” said Ashton resident Nicola Round, who started the Adblock Bristol campaign. “If I look at Facebook or open a magazine, I might be annoyed at the advertising, but I have essentially opted in to it.

“In North Street the majority of billboards are for cars, which raises a question about our status as a Green Capital city – there are no messages around green lifestyles. We have a huge problem with air quality in Bristol so why are we being sold cars?

“It’s largely from multinational corporations which bring no benefit to Bristol at all. 

“You might have McDonald’s with a big billboard that’s in your face and in front of your children, yet a marvellous café down the road cannot do that.”

Nicola would like to see the city freed of outdoor advertising – Sao Paulo in Brazil and Grenoble in France are two cities which imposed their own bans.

Southville Green councillor Steve Clarke also wants to see Bristol ban hoardings, especially digital ones. “I don’t think people will realise how bad they are until they are put in – they are basically screens showing 20-second videos,” he said. They will distract drivers, he believes.

“Sweden decided they are dangerous and banned them completely. 

“All over the world they are getting rid of them, from Auckland to Hawaii. They are also a terrible waste of energy – each one has 10,000 LED lamps and they use 25 times as much energy as an average home.”

In 2015, the Green party tried to persuade Bristol council, under former mayor George Ferguson, to outlaw digital hoardings. They lost, because Mr Ferguson argued for the revenue the screens will bring the council. 

Cllr Clarke addressed a packed Adblock meeting held at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft on April 13. In St Werburgh’s, campaigners have succeeded in reducing the number of hoardings from 13 to six. Some didn’t have planning permission.

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