Belfast Telegraph

Time's up warns Mark H Durkan, over lingering political posters

By Noel McAdam

Ever feel our politicians are looking down on you?

Well, they are still doing it - faces old and new dangling on high from lamp posts and other locations.

Two weeks after the General Election campaign, candidate posters remain in place even though the official deadline for them to have been taken down has passed.

Lamp posts and hedgerows and other vantage points like roundabouts continue to be adorned with both winners and losers from the election battle.

But yesterday the parties were being told to take the posters down - post haste.

Former senior election official Seamus Magee warned parties they should comply with the law.

In a tweet, Mr Magee, former head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, proclaimed: "Deadline to remove election posters has now passed.

"Well done to those who have complied with the law. Hope the others follow their lead".

The perennial problem is said to be particularly prevalent in the greater Belfast area - although there are reports of poster pests right across the province.

But responsibility for dealing with the already-deteriorating and often ugly posters has now shifted to the province's 11 new super-councils.

New Equality Commission NI chief Ann Watt said people should first contact the parties whose candidates are still looking down on them.

The commission confirmed it has had a trickle of complaints from members of the public - even though it is not responsible for their removal.

That now falls with the new councils, which went 'live' in April and now include planning among their new functions.

Ms Watt said: "We have had a handful of calls over the last week or so and that has increased a little since the deadline approached.

"What we would say to people is to approach the party involved first. After all, they are responsible for putting them up.

"But we have no remit in this area, it is the new councils' responsibility now."

Environment Minister Mark Durkan's department, which is overseeing the local government transition, confirmed: "Responsibility for the control of advertisements, including election posters, transferred to councils on April 1 2015, as part of the package of planning powers that transferred to councils at that time.

"Election posters are erected with deemed consent under the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (NI) 2015, subject to the condition that they are removed within 14 days after the close of the poll in the election to which they relate. It is a matter for each district council to consider what action is appropriate to ensure the removal of elections posters still being displayed in contravention of the regulations."

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