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Councils urged to 'cut the clutter'

The Government has urged councils to cut street clutter by getting rid of unnecessary signs, railings and advertising hoardings.

Ministers are worried the character of urban spaces is being damaged.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond have written to council leaders calling on them to reduce the number of signs and other "street clutter".

The Government believes that in some cases traffic signs and railings are installed by councils in the mistaken belief that they are legally required. However, although some signs are required by law, Government advice is that for signs to be most effective they should be kept to a minimum.

To help councils do this the Department for Transport is reviewing traffic signs policy and new advice on how to reduce clutter will be published later this year.

The Department for Transport said that, for example, the cathedral city of Salisbury, in Wiltshire, was littered with bollards, with a parking area for 53 cars having 63 bollards.

Also, the removal of street clutter from Kensington High Street in west London had reduced accidents by up to 47%.

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 town hall 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."

In 2006 a survey by the Hampshire section of the Campaign to Protect Rural England of a seven-mile section of the B3006 in the South Downs National Park revealed an average of 45 signs per mile.

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