Headlines: September 12th, 2006



Local authorities will today face a call to carry out “clutter audits” after a claim that rural areas are ruined by intrusive traffic calming and confusing signs that may also be putting motorists’ lives at risk. The call comes from the motoring organisation, the RAC, which is joining the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England to protest against the cluttering of the countryside.

News of the new alliance will be given today by Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, when he speaks at the ‘Achieving Excellence in Signing’ conference of the Institution of Highway Incorporated Engineers. Mr. King will tell delegates that signs that are clear, concise, relevant, reliable and timely can improve safety but a clutter of contradictory signs leads to confusion that can result in collisions as well as detracting from the beauty of the countryside,

He will call on local councils to carry audits of signing in their counties, restore countryside character through the use of fingerposts and other locally distinctive signage where possible and keep a record of the number of signs they have managed to remove. He will highlight a case study which found 45 signs per mile on a 7-mile section of the B3006 in Hampshire, most of which runs through the South Downs National Park.

Chicane and build-out traffic calming measures in villages will also come in for special criticism and will be branded “appalling and dangerous”. He will tell the conference, “We are ruining many of our pretty rural areas by putting in hideous traffic calming schemes and far too many signs and lines. We need clutter reviews to remove unnecessary signs and lines. Perhaps we should use more traditional methods such as cattle grids to slow cars down rather than race track chicanes.”

Shaun Spiers, the CPRE’s Chief Executive, said people were simply not prepared to put up with the countryside being blighted for no good reason. “We want local authorities to think again about putting up unnecessary road signs, and keep our countryside from becoming a nightmare of garish signs and billboards,” he added.

The two organisations are also urging the Government to follow the lead of the Scottish Executive and to produce guidance on how to manage road furniture in rural areas as well as conducting a formal review of rural signage along the lines of the 1987 Guildford Review of Urban Signage.