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Chris Vaughan: Ban these unsightly for sale boards

Chris Vaughan: Ban these unsightly for sale boards

🕔14.Dec 2012

The new digital technologies have changed our lives and continue to do so.

The postman now mainly delivers junk mail as more of us turn to email; home telephones have been replaced by mobiles and mainly transmit junk calls; books, CDs and shops are becoming a thing of the past.; elegant handwriting is an eccentric pastime and the art of conversation is now officially dead as we dedicate ourselves to texting, tweeting and social networking. I was recently at a Christmas dinner, half the table were not present to those in the room as they concentrated on their smart phones choosing not to talk to the company present.

The City Council has invested heavily in new technology in order to live up to its progressive, go-ahead image with a department dedicated to designing more and more ways for the city to smarten up.
But old habits die hard and practices more at home in the eighteenth century continue to flourish. I refer principally to the practice beloved of our estate agents and letting agencies of advertising their clients’ empty properties by sticking a notice in a prominent place on or next to the vacant premises.

It is something the Council have ignored for years because it only affected those areas in the city dedicated to accommodating students or its Victorian suburbs featuring houses of multiple occupation where there is always likely to be an empty room available. Because of the high churn of population these notices are posted permanently with the result that besides the unsightly clutter they bring to a district, it also sends out the message that no one wants to live or settle there for long.

But get with the programme. Who nowadays searches for property by walking the streets or even motoring up and down a neighbourhood? We do it online. We have Google Earth. All we need is the postcode and we can visit virtually anywhere and anywhere virtually.

However, these antediluvian practices are no longer restricted to these areas, no longer impact only on the people unfortunate to live there because they have now spread to the city centre which is now awash with signs whose cumulative message is: “Welcome to Birmingham – the City where no one is doing business.” You only have to walk 50 yards from the Council House to be met by a slew of billboards disfiguring our attractive City centre architecture.

So my plea to the City fathers: take a leaf out of the Brighton and Hove Council’s book of planning regulations and ban these unsightly signs now. We may be in the midst of recession but they are sending out the wrong message about Birmingham and that ain’t smart, in fact it’s pretty dumb.


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