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NI mayor grabs bucket and sponge to clean up unreadable road signs

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UUP councillor Mark Brooks cleaned road signs

UUP councillor Mark Brooks cleaned road signs

Clean road signs

Clean road signs

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UUP councillor Mark Brooks cleaned road signs

It is always a good idea to know where you are going when you’re out on the roads around Northern Ireland.

But what if the road signs are obscured by overhanging trees, covered in graffiti or just plain dirty, making them virtually unreadable?

The Mayor of Ards and North Down council is one who has had enough, and this week he grabbed his bucket and sponge and sorted the problem.

Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Brooks went out and cleaned up himself.

One sign in particular has been an irritation, along the main Donaghadee to Bangor road, next to the popular new development at High-Trees on the edge of the coastal town.

“I know I shouldn’t have to do this, but it’s just good housekeeping,” said Mr Brooks, who took over as Mayor in June.

“Every time I drove past that sign at High-Trees, it annoyed me. In less than 10 minutes, it was cleaned and looking respectable and people can see the way to Bangor.

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Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Mark Brooks

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Mark Brooks

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Mark Brooks

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“Road signs are pretty useless if you can’t read them. Honestly, it’s embarrassing the state some are in.

“It’s not a good look, particularly if we’re trying to bring visitors to the area, to any area of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“We can spend millions on tourism facilities, campaigns to bring people to our country, but a simple thing like helping them travel around the country should be easy to do.

“We can have signs welcoming people to towns across the country, but if they’re not maintained, what’s the point? We all tidy up our own homes for visitors, should we not be applying that across the country?

“There are so many simple things we can do to present ourselves properly.

“Over the past few weeks, now we’re all able to get out and about again, I’ve been walking the dog in Bangor, along the seafront to Pickie Park. It’s sad to see it is all covered in weeds and overgrown. That’s supposed to be an area attracting people to the town. Presenting it nicely should be taken for granted.”

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Road signs in the area

Road signs in the area

Road signs in the area

Instead, Mr Brooks has been on a long campaign of picking up his brush and cleaning footpaths himself around his home town of Donaghadee, and can often be spotted watering hanging flower baskets.

“I have environmentally friendly weed-killer,” he said. “I just go out, spray it along the edge of the roads and a week later, go back and remove the weeds.

“It’s not that I mind doing it. I love seeing my town clean and tidy and looking well for the visitors who come along and might want to stop off and come back again another day.

“It would be nice to think the Department for Infrastructure, those who look after our roads, thought the same and took the time to do these small housekeeping jobs that can make such a big difference to the appeal of an area.”

Mr Brooks has been praised for his actions in keeping his town tidy, though his devotion to his home town is nothing new.

And this time, he has sparked a few more people to take out their buckets and sponges and clean down road signs.

“I’ve had a few messages from other people who said it inspired them to wipe down signs that have been bothering them,” he said. “That’s great, but they shouldn’t have to do it.

“I’m just pleased that I can drive past that sign that was bothering me without getting even more irritated. Some people even think it’s a new sign.

“But it would be good to see the authorities stepping up and making sure roads signs are readable for all,” he said. “Not everyone knows where they’re going.”

The Department for Infrastructure has been contacted for comment.


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