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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Bid to ban clutter from streets
Street clutter caused by signs
English Heritage says some streets in London have improved
England's historic streets are blighted by bollards, bins, broken paving and other clutter, says English Heritage.

The body launches its Save Our Streets campaign at Great Portland Street tube station, London, on Thursday.

It says the Edwardian station is a good example of the problem, as signs, bins and old street furniture obscure it.

English Heritage says more than 20 different agencies are involved in installing items on streets, without any co-ordination between them.

Street designer Ben Hamilton-Bailey says money is spent on streets, but not enough thought is put into design.

Recycling bins and benches are good, but it's just a question of tidying up
Author Bill Bryson

Mr Hamilton-Bailey said: "Most of our streets are managed not by the people who live there or by any of the design processes, but by standardised bollards and guard rails, signs, road markings and clutter.

"This isn't really about resources, but the way in which we think about responsibility for public spaces.

"A huge amount of money is spent on public spaces, but used by a myriad of public organisations."

Author Bill Bryson is backing the Save Our Streets campaign and is attending the launch in Great Portland Street.

He told BBC Breakfast: "If you look around you there's an awful lot of stuff.

'Integrated approach'

"You need a lot of things, recycling bins and benches are good, but it's just a question of tidying up and consolidating it."

English Heritage wants people to take note of how many pieces of street furniture are on the roads, and to put pressure on local councils to do something about it.

It will also be working with the Department for Transport to produce manuals which will show good and bad examples of the country's streets.

Workshops will be held to encourage an integrated approach to street management.

The campaign is also backed by the National Federation of Women's Institutes.


What do you think about the state of England's streets? Is there a road near you which is too cluttered - how many items of street furniture are on it?

Add your comments to this story using the form below and if you have any pictures of cluttered streets e-mail them to us at yourpics@bbc.co.uk.


Street furniture, signage, advertisements boards and hoardings, railings, bollards, bottle banks, whatever... they are an absolute eyesore to the general public, and a big distraction to drivers. Why do we put up with this? Is it the same reason of why we put up with a poor transport system? Do we not want to live in an attractive place anymore? Get rid of most of them whilst essential ones should be designed to fit in with the surroundings more. If we don't de-frag our lives and surroundings we will end up in an ugly existence.
Paul, Runcorn

What bothers me more is the giant advertising boards that are cropping up in more and more places (not just London these days). They obscure far more in terms of architecture and clutter up the landscape with bright annoying colours. When these are removed we can start worrying about signs that actually have a useful function.
David Hicks, London, UK

I support the campaign to reduce street clutter of which there is too much. But this is not just an urban problem. Every spring our hedges and roadsides are festooned with fluorescent signs promoting Agricultural Shows and other events from miles away which then remain for months after. These are not local community events but major commercial enterprises which local authorities are failing to regulate to the detriment of the environment.
Paul, East Sussex

Living in Amsterdam a few years ago, I realised that most of the pavements are stones laid on sand, like a patio. This means that when access to pipes and cables is needed, they can replace the stones exactly, rather than the patchwork-quilt of poorly laid tarmac that we see here. Sadly, although I was delighted when the city council in Southampton starting doing exactly that in the centre of town, after a few years lots of paving slabs are missing and have been filled in with tarmac by lazy or unscrupulous workers, because the sites are clearly not checked afterwards. Still, good start, let's have more.
Justin Rowles, Southampton, UK

It's not just the road signs and street furniture that make streets look untidy. The current practice of applying coverings to road sufaces in different colours in nothing short of official grafitti. Green for cycle track and Bus Lanes, red for braking strips and beige for bends etc. They all look very dirty after a few months in use and detract from the environment. Why is it necessary?
Andrew, Birmingham

It's about time that all this superfluous road furniture was cleared away. Unnecessary road signs mean more obstacles for the unfortunate motorcyclist/ cyclist who might have a spill on a wet diesel patch. Signs are poorly thought out and badly located. We are also taking away people's common sense by trying to mitigate against a litigious society.
Simon Jacklin, Bristol, England

First complaints are made when streets do not have any bins and therefore people drop litter and now complaints are made when bins are placed in streets saying they clutter. What would you rather have? A few bins or loads of litter?
Dominic Wade, Peterlee, UK

At last someone is recognising that this is a problem
Julian E, London
At last someone is recognising that this is a problem. This is all about our environment and our quality of life. You frequently see three or four signs and poles place right next to each other at junctions, or poles every few metres for controlled parking zones. What councils are doing is making places ugly and ruining our streets. It is difficult to walk down some roads now without weaving like you are on a slalom course. The sooner something is done to reduce this council clutter the better.
Julian E, London

As a traffic technician who works closely with local authorities on street works of this nature, I agree that in a lot of instances the coordination of streetworks of this nature is haphazard and unimaginative. But tied into that are budgetary concerns; most local councils struggle to fund their maintenance programmes each year, let alone pay for what many in authority see as a needless expenditure, when put alongside items such as integrated transport, safe routes to school, 'green' travel plans, etc. If the money was available I'm sure it would be spent more wisely, as we all want to live somewhere nice!
Lee Wynd, Telford, Shropshire

We need to strike a balance between the necessary signage and street furniture, and that which is merely clutter. Unfortunately, much of the 'clutter' is caused by well meaning organisations such as the AA, who's temporary Yellow Signs to events and holiday routes get left stuck to lamp-posts for months after the event is over.
Becky Simms, Oxford, UK

Involve local communities in deciding what goes and what stays
Martin G, Nottingham
Street signs aimed at drivers alone take up far too much space and both unsightly and distracting to drivers. If any driver paid attention the all the signs on some of our streets they would spend no time looking at the road. Cut down on the signs, keep the bins and benches and involve local communities in deciding what goes and what stays.
Martin G, Nottingham

I saw a very well designed scheme in Portugal for recycling. Here in the UK bottle banks and recycling bins tend to be a messy dumping ground and a blight on the locale. In Lagos on the Algarve the municipal authority have installed attractively designed bins, arranged in an orderly way and kept clean and tidy which not only makes a feature of them but I'm sure encourages people to use them more regularly too.
Kieron, London

Never mind the aesthetics of it, when are they going to make the roads decent? That's what I want to know.
Stephen Willett, UK

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12 Oct 04 |  Southern Counties


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