Communities secretary Eric Pickles and transport secretary Philip Hammond have written to councils to ask them to reduce the amount of highway signage in urban and rural areas.
This move to “cut the clutter” – which aims to reduce unnecessary signs, railings and bollards in a bid to make streets tidier and safer – has been welcomed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England which has been campaigning on the issue for nearly 15 years.
All local authorities in England outside London are required to produce new Local Transport Plans to come into force from April 2011, while London local authorities have to produce new Local Implementation Plans by the same date.
Mr Pickles says that many traffic signs and railings are put up in the mistaken belief that they are legally required. Although some signs are required by law, Government advice is that they are most effective when kept to a minimum.
Eric 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. Organisations like Civic Voice, Living Streets and fixmystreet can help councils provide a Big Society solution – local people carrying out street audits will bring power and character back to neighbourhoods.”
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.