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OPEN SPACE SIGNS AN UNNECESSARY INTRUSION, SAYS CIVIC SOCIETY

7th September 2009

Ripon Civic Society is urging Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) to think again about the signs recently placed in parks and open spaces around Ripon.

The Society is concerned that many of the city’s open spaces have been disfigured with the large white signs that announce the name of the area and the Council’s contact details. Many people have contacted to Society about the signs, saying they are an intrusion, are unsightly and are possibly a danger in themselves, as they are placed at head height for small children or those on bicycles.

In reply to a letter asking for the signs, each on its pole, to be removed or at least placed somewhere less obtrusive and dangerous, HBC officials responded that the signs were ‘in accordance with the corporate image’ recently introduced by the council, that they are as big as they are because the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requires them to be like that, and that they give important information in emergencies. The reply also says that the signs ‘meet a need so that the public are aware of where they are.’

In response, David Winpenny, Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, said, ‘While we realise that HBC has changed its corporate image, we are still at a loss to understand the size and location of the new signs. We don't think that the DDA requires the signs to be so large – and, while it is perhaps helpful that people know who is responsible for the land . . . we believe that in an emergency a 999 call will be the way most people would call for assistance. And as for ensuring 'the public are aware of where they are', that is an argument for putting signs everywhere!’

‘We’ve yet to meet anyone who has agreed with these new signs. They seem to have been put there without consultation and for no very effective purpose. We have asked HBC to let the Society know what legislation or bylaws that require these signs – we suspect that they have only been put up because of some ill-founded fear of Health and Safety prosecutions. We hope that the Council will listen to reason and either remove them completely or place them in safer and less-obtrusive positions.’

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