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City Council See the Light: More Adverts for Stokes Croft

May 4, 2011

In a masterstroke of urban design, Bristol City Council has finally realised that what Stokes Croft, City Road and the Cheltenham Road need are more adverts. Refusing to bow to pressure from more aesthetically impoverished neighborhoods like Redland and Clifton who have barely a decent hoarding to call their own,  the Design and Branding Department is courageously  insisting on bringing more square metres of solid commercial imagery to where it’s really wanted.

The plan is simple but audacious – applying to themselves for planning permission, the council want to install new and adapted street lighting, specially designed to show case 2m full colour adverts as flags; one at least every 50 metres. And no tucking them away near roundabouts, the council wants to put them right in your line of sight. Rest assured no plugs for pole dancing, fake ID’s or drug paraphernalia will be allowed, just the good old mainstream consumerist icons and haikus that we all love. Best of all, the council will be planning to charge the advertisers for access to your public space.

But don’t trust us, take a look at the council’s map and website. Have a think about where your view, your walk, your home or your place of work can best be embellished by access to this splendid public good. Let them know by 25th May, this is too good an opportunity to miss.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Taff permalink
    May 4, 2011 3:24 pm

    Do your research.

    Search the planning applications for “lamp post” and you will see that similar applications have been made for various other locations, including Clifton.

    Also, what’s the problem with the council funding this scheme by charging for use of the advertising space? Would you rather they spent taxpayers money on it rather than having the initiative to raise some capital on their own?

    You have chosen to live in an inner city location next to a major commuter route, don’t act surprised that this is a good location for advertising banners.

    • davidsgoldblatt permalink
      May 4, 2011 3:27 pm

      Fair enough and thank you for the comment. Just because one chooses to live, work, walk through an inner city area does that mean we should accept more visual intrusion and more space given over to advertising?

      • Taff permalink
        May 4, 2011 3:35 pm

        Let me make a very small amendment and read that statement back to you.

        “Just because one chooses to live, work, walk through an inner city area does that mean we should accept more visual intrusion and more space given over to street art?”

        Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer to see some high quality street art to advertising, but not everybody thinks that allowing this art improves the area.

        This very blog campaigns for “visual intrusion” that you support, so why so upset when others make similar requests.

        In general, street art is better than advertising, but in some cases a well thought out advert is far more thought provoking than some low quailty graffiti.

      • Jim permalink
        May 4, 2011 3:36 pm

        Yes

      • Neil permalink
        May 4, 2011 3:47 pm

        “Just because one chooses to live, work, walk through an inner city area does that mean we should accept more visual intrusion and more space given over to advertising?”

        Advertising works by getting a message across to as many people as possible. Inner cities tend to be the busy areas with large amounts of traffic, consequently making them good places to use to promote.

        So to answer your question: yes.

  2. Wilden permalink
    May 4, 2011 7:04 pm

    What’s to stop us making a collection to put some artworks up there ourselves?

  3. May 5, 2011 9:40 am

    This is a copy of my comment to the council planning office:

    I was not consulted about this although my business is directly in line with one of these sites. An ad in the local paper does not cut it when you propose to change not just the odd building, but the view of an entire community.
    These flags would affect the culture of the area which is predicated on an unusually large number of small independent traders of whom I am one. Were these spaces to be offered exclusively to locally based businesses and attractions, I would have less of an objection, but I guess that the numbers would not add up because they would be too expensive. Assuming that that is indeed the case, these sites will be taken by large businesses and corporations and will inevitably invite anger and vandalism, making work for the police who will yet again be perceived as taking the side of big business against local interests. This is a simplistic approach, but walk for a moment in each set of shoes to see how this looks. I have a cafe selling wraps. Subway may take advertising space on the lamppost opposite my shop. Not unlikely as they have an outlet just up the road. The addition of a large flag undermines not only my business but the environment in which I chose to trade. I chose that site because of the thriving independence of the area. Now imagine that Subway book all the flags all the way up the street. In a stroke you have changed the initial view of diversity into one of corporate uniformity. But the people of this area are not stupid. They do not need every flag to be the same to realise that an agglomeration of corporate brands represents everything that is not representative of the community and this area. Now let us finally bring the elephant into the room: Tesco. Do you really want to let them have a flag, or 6? Or would it be, forgive me but it is irresistable- yet another red flag to a bull? So Andy the activist climbs up the lampost and redesigns the flag while friends and supporters stand on the street and cheer him on. Someone calls the police- and out comes Plod. My guess is that the local police would prefer to be seen to support the local community but yet again they would be forced by property law to defend the indefensible. This would be unfair on them and silly. The last thing we all need round here is more disorder, and more incitement to disorder. Please show us the common courtesy of respecting our space for the vibrant rich place it is, rather than undermining it with vulgar commercialism.

  4. girl permalink
    May 5, 2011 2:49 pm

    So because we accept grafitti as an art we should too accept advertising as an art too? Interesting argument. I’d agree, except the businesses likely to advertise are unlikely to be local, and I see grafitti as representing my local culture which is why I have more sympathy for it. I’m not so sure a subway flag is gonna have the same impact on the area as a cheeba piece imo. I came to stokes croft to get away from the corporate giants and monotomy that eventually characteristed my southampton village. And now I’m seeing it happening here too. This is another stab in the side for Stokes Croft.

  5. samantha permalink
    May 5, 2011 5:07 pm

    I’d like to see less advertising on Stokes Croft too. You could start by removing the PRSC gallery sign you’ve erected on Turbo Island, and the huge ‘Think Local’ billboard, also the fake Stokes Croft Museum signs stuck to lampposts

    lead by example Chris and “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”

    • Annette permalink
      May 7, 2011 11:53 am

      Well said Samantha, the self styled “Mayor of Stokes Croft” seems to be blinded by his own self righteousness !

  6. Peter permalink
    May 5, 2011 6:13 pm

    Pardon my ignorance on the subject at hand but isn’t this a way for the local council to help raise money?, hopefully to offset local taxes or to raise money to provide better amenities to the people whom reside within, having said that i LOVE and SUPPORT the whole idea of a vibrant inner community spirit that seems to prevail throughout.

  7. Steve permalink
    May 5, 2011 8:57 pm

    -it could be for the flags that you see on hotwell road, that say things like “better on a bike”. If the flags are at pedestrian leel then they take away space from pedestrians, which goes against the “hierarchy of provision” concept -that pedestrians come first. There’s also the issue that they are aimed to get driver attention, which can’t help road safety

  8. davidsgoldblatt permalink
    May 5, 2011 10:07 pm

    Just a note to thank you all for your comments, much food for thought. Clealry there is an important argument to be made about whether street art and commerical advertising can be considered visual/moral equivalents. I know what I think but the case needs to be made. I will reply to this and other points properly in a longer post next week.

  9. samantha permalink
    May 6, 2011 9:28 am

    @Peter

    good point. Let the council sell advertising space on Stokes Croft, provided that the revenue goes towards improving the Bear Pit etc and encourage footfall

  10. May 11, 2011 5:19 pm

    Let me volunteer first that I’m the person behind these planning applications – the City Council’s communication and marketing director.

    There have been flags/banners on lamp-posts around the city for years, generally without much controversy attached – but we haven’t previously asked for formal permission on a large scale, and so haven’t carried out the kind of systematic public consultation that we are doing now.

    We’ll all have to wait and see whether or not planning consent is granted, as the people in the Council considering our applications will I know handle them rigourously and fairly – they bend over backwards to be seen to be even-handed when applications come in for consideration from other people in the Council. The public representations will all factor heavily into that decision.

    If planning consent is granted, then I know that some cabinet members (the councillors elected to run the council) are keen to revisit the issue. This means, that even if we end up with planning consent, there may yet be a policy decision to restrict or even stop their usage altogether.

    If this does all go ahead, I certainly want to make every effort to strike a suitable balance between socially useful adverts (such as advertising forthcoming events, like the Bristol Half Marathon, or the Harbour Festival – or promoting exercise or smoking-cessation services etc.) and commercial advertising. Indeed, I know that many are keen to see that commercial advertising opportunities were made available to small shops and firms, to help support our local economy.

    There are also very real concerns about clutter, and about lamppost banners being left til they get worn and tatty, becoming an eyesore. It’s certainly not in our interests to allow this kind of problem develop either, so we’ll be keen to avoid it happening.

    I want to acknowledge that many people are unhappy with the proposal (as well as those commenting here in support of the idea). I hope at least that my setting out our thinking is helpful in informing the public debate.

    As several commentators on here have said – of course if we do raise money through commercial advertising then ultimately we need to raise less from Council Tax. The sums we are talking about are small beer (in the tens of thousands of pounds) when compared to overall Council spending (a revenue budget this year of around £370 million) but as per the jingle of a particular supermarket, ‘every little helps’.

  11. Bob permalink
    June 22, 2011 1:22 pm

    I too would rather not have anymore advertising up around the city, but, as plenty of other people above have alluded to, the most prolific advertiser on Stokes Croft is PRSC and there was no public consultation about this advertising. Any chance of some feedback from PRSC on this point?

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