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Councils given new powers to tear down ‘pointless’ road signs

Announced by the Department for Transport, the new powers are effective from 22 April and will mean that town halls can take down ‘unnecessary’ signs and ensure that signs have ‘remove by dates’ on the back.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Road signs should only be installed on our roads when they are essential. Our common-sense reforms will help get rid of pointless signs that are an eyesore and distract drivers.

“These new rules will also save £30m in taxpayers’ cash by 2020, leaving drivers with just the signs they need to travel safely.”

The DfT also said that money would be saved from not having to illuminate signs.

It added that the number of signs on our roads more than doubled from 2.45 million in England in 1993 to an estimated 4.57 million in 2013.

The crackdown will be spearheaded by Sir Alan Duncan MP who will lead a task force that is looking at removing pointless signs.

Other changes will also see the requirement for both a sign and a road marking removed in some cases while the requirement to place repeat speed limit signs has been removed.

Commenting on the announcement, RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Signage is at its most effective when it’s well designed and used in just the right location – and that location is rarely one that is surrounded by a plethora of other signs. A move to de-clutter our roadsides therefore makes a lot of practical, as well as economic sense, and will be welcomed by the 63% of motorists we spoke to that said our roads are too full of unnecessary signage.

“While responsibility for local signage should rest with councils, we do not believe the option of axing small speed limit repeater signs makes much sense. All road users benefit from regular reminders of the speed limit, especially on roads where the limit is not immediately obvious.

“We welcome ‘use by’ dates on signage – we’ve all seen signs announcing ‘new road layout ahead’ when the layout changed many months, if not years ago. Giving residents the power to ask councils to take down expired signs makes perfect sense, although we hope that cases of people having to do this will become exception rather than the norm.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.