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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Some of you may recall that in Aug. 2010 I mounted a campaign to have the garish Kentucky Fried Chicken lamppost banners removed from Crouch End Broadway. Following a press campaign Lynn Featherstone took up the cause and, despite the council having committed to a 15 year contract (!) KFC elected to remove the banners within six weeks of the start of the campaign. Reee-zult!

As part of the campaign I launched an on-line petition: ‘Ban the Banners’ -
(www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-the-banners.html) It received 90 signatures and is still open for those who wish to ad their names and, more importantly, leave comments.

The sad fact is that I was only successful in having the KFC banners removed from Crouch End Broadway. Hundreds more equally garish banners litter the borough (I shall be taking some photos shortly.)

I recently saw in the Ham and High that road casualties in the borough had risen by a worrying 25% over the past 12 months: the greatest increase of all 32 London Boroughs. Furthermore, the number of accidents involving cyclists doubled from 2007 to 2009. The council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods stated that they are ‘looking very closely at the data to understand the reasons and put in more safety initiatives where they are needed’ which suggests to me they don’t have a clue why this dramatic increase has taken place.

I wrote to the head of the council Claire Kober and suggested that anything which distracts motorists from giving full attention to the road ahead should be removed. I have just received her reply:

“The posters are designed to be read by pedestrians. Road users should not allow themselves to be distracted by any form of outdoor media.”

It is my belief that, far from targeting pedestrians, these bright, garish banner ads are, in fact, aimed at drivers. I cite Muswell Hill whose steep gradient means that it is not a favourite stretch of road for pedestrians. Along its 300 metre length there are no fewer than 11 lamppost posters located, I would suggest, to catch the eye of the many drivers who take this route and who are often caught in traffic jams at the top and bottom of the hill.

In any case, Cllr. Kober’s claim that road users must avert their eyes is, to my mind, absurd. If a brightly coloured image occurs within peripheral vision then the eye is automatically drawn to it. If we follow the argument to its conclusion, all shopkeepers would be banned from displaying brightly coloured packaging lest thieves be tempted to steal them.

I intend to ramp up my campaign once again to have the lamppost banners removed. But I need your help.

As a driver have you found your eyes drawn to the banners? Please let me know and sign the ‘Ban the Banners’ petition. Leaving comments gives me further ammunition with which to approach the council. Thanks for taking the time to read the above.

(Full response from the council available on request.)

Brian Bowles

Tags for Forum Posts: Campaign, advertising, borough., from, have, lamppost, removed, the, to

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Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. The original figure of 130 was quoted to me at the time by the then head of the council: Cllr Meehan who resigned in the wake of the Baby Peter catastrophe. I have not sourced the figures as to the current number of lamppost ads. in circulation in the borough. I should try to discover this as I believe that you are correct in saying that there appear now to be many more than this. Yours BB
Alan this is an heroic effort to distract attention from the council's own responsibility for its part of the eyesore problem! (sorry to use such a vulgar term. "responsibility" – there I said it again out of sheer devilment!). When the council's own hands are clean in this matter, I will listen attentively to any complaints they may have about advertising hoardings.

Distraction to drivers and a cause of accidents? I don't know
I suspect you have suspicions, but prefer not to say.

I remember only one poem (American poet, Ogden Nash):

I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
IN California, companies emply people to stand by the edge of the road with fluorescent "special offer" etc signs which they then jiggle from side to side to catch your attention. Talk about distracting you from driving!
I think anything which makes it harder to pick out a pedestrian from their surroundings is bound to increase accidents - this includes railings, trees, bad road signs, parked cars etc. The banners are just a particularly ugly part of all this.



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