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Published by the Society in the Ripon Gazette, 9th November 2008
Who would deny that it’s pleasant to have seats on the Market Square? Or rather, who would deny it once the cars are removed from the Square’s southern end? And how sensible it is to have bollards to prevent people driving where they shouldn’t! And – oh yes – we must have notice boards to put our important information on. And then there are the tree guards – vital in these days of vandalism. What else do we need? Railings to prevent pedestrians straying. Litter bins, of course. And capacious planters. And signs that say when and where we can and can’t park – each of them will need its own post. And some of those mysterious rectangular boxes that may have something to do with controlling traffic lights. Is that it? Yes – oh, no! We’d forgotten the big posts for the CCTV cameras . . .

Each piece of street furniture and signage is, no doubt, considered vital by the County Council or the Borough Council. Some of it may be demanded by the law. But cumulatively it becomes so much clutter. All this paraphernalia suggests that each piece has been approved separately with no thought to the overall look, and without considering how all the elements might be rationalised.

Does each eight-by-six-inch notice need its own pole? What can’t they be attached to a nearby wall or lamp post? If poles are vital, why not use one pole for several notices? Could traffic be kept from driving where it shouldn’t by changes of surface rather than bollards? Can we have some joined-up thinking in the Market Square and in other parts of the city where the street furniture has proliferated?

Otherwise Ripon is going to look more and more like an outpost of Steptoe and Son’s yard,

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