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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 12:33 GMT
Liverpool's Beatles signs blocked

The Beatles are "too distracting" for motorway signs

Road signs promoting Liverpool as the birthplace of The Beatles have been rejected by the Department of the Environment because they could cause an accident.

Liverpool City Council had hoped to put up signs reading "Liverpool - Birthplace of the Beatles" on the busy M6 motorway and other routes into the city.

However, its bid to attract visitors has been turned down by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which ruled that the signs were too detailed and would distract drivers.

Tourist attraction: Sir Paul McCartney's former home

The city's tourism spokesman Frank Doran now plans to write a letter of protest to Culture Secretary Chris Smith asking him to reassess the "ridiculous rules".

"We should be allowed to present our strongest selling point," said Doran.

"This makes no sense at all and I think some of these people making decisions in London need dragging into the 21st century," he added.

But a government spokesman said: "Drivers have just four seconds to assimilate information (from signs). There is a limit on the number of words allowed. It comes down to safety grounds - it was too distracting."

Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey questioned why the town of Stratford upon-Avon, once home to William Shakespeare, was allowed to use signs describing itself as "Shakespeare's Stratford".

He added: "The Beatles are as important to Liverpool as Shakespeare is to Warwickshire and to not allow the signs is bureaucracy gone mad."

Traffic regulations

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has instead approved a series of signs promoting the city's "historic waterfront", "museums and galleries" and "football stadia".

These white and brown signs comply with the Road Traffic Users Act which allows information about three tourist attractions alongside the name of the town and city.

In addition the act states that signs must help motorists find their destination "safely and efficiently" and should not be used as "marketing tools".

Beatles attractions in the city include Sir Paul McCartney's childhood home, which was opened to the public by the National Trust in 1998.

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