Sol ‘com­ing for’ il­le­gal ad­ver­tis­ers

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - NORMA WILDENBOER STAFF RE­PORTER

FOL­LOW­ING an out­cry from mem­bers of the Kim­ber­ley com­mu­nity about the re­cent spike in il­le­gal out­side advertising, the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is plan­ning a “mas­sive clam­p­down” on the il­le­gal sig­nage that many say is “com­pletely swal­low­ing the city”.

While the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has un­til now turned an ap­par­ent blind eye to many of the il­le­gal advertising signs that dot the city, it took de­ci­sive ac­tion yes­ter­day against flags erected on the pave­ment at the Half­way House.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity sent two work­ers, ac­com­pa­nied by two su­per­vi­sors, as well as a team of seven se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, to phys­i­cally re­move the flag poles.

Many res­i­dents have long re­acted with out­rage to the num­ber of il­le­gal advertising boards “go­ing up on daily ba­sis” in the city, with many ac­cus­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of be­ing tooth­less and al­low­ing busi­nesses to advertise il­le­gally.

“What is al­lowed to hap­pen in our city with re­gard to il­le­gal out­door advertising is an ab­so­lute dis­grace,” one res­i­dent said.

“Stop at any in­ter­sec­tion in town and you are con­fronted with a vis­ual ca­coph­ony of dozens, if not hun­dreds, of il­le­gal advertising boards on pave­ments, is­lands, lamp poles, walls and fences and even on road signs and traf­fic lights. Not only do th­ese signs ob­struct the view of mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans, but cre­ate a dirty and dis­or­derly look and feel to the city and a feel­ing of chaos.”

Other res­i­dents be­moaned the fact that il­le­gal out­door advertising con­sti­tuted a form of “vis­ual pol­lu­tion”.

“A city that is al­ready con­sid­ered to be ex­tremely dirty, with rub­bish vis­i­ble at any point, can­not af­ford th­ese advertising boards that scream at you from all di­rec­tions. It just adds to the gen­eral pol­luted feel of the city.”

The Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has, how­ever, de­nied that it has turned a “blind eye”.

“It’s not a cri­sis yet but we are work­ing to avoid a cri­sis. We need the help of other sec­tors like busi­ness to fol­low the pro­cesses of the law,” mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son, Sello Mat­sie, said yes­ter­day.

Mat­sie said that the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Out­door Advertising Signs By-law 2011, Gazette No 1818, Pro­vin­cial Gazette, July 7, 2014, was de­signed to pro­vide for the HALF MAST: The mu­nic­i­pal­ity took de­ci­sive ac­tion yes­ter­day against flags erected on the pave­ment at the Half­way House. Pic­ture: So­raya Crowie

as­sess­ment of all ap­pli­ca­tions for per­mis­sion to pro­ceed with var­i­ous forms of out­door advertising and to man­age and reg­u­late all forms of out­door advertising vis­i­ble from all pub­lic spa­ces un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Re­fer­ring to the pro­hi­bi­tion and con­trol of the erec­tion of signs, Mat­sie said that no advertising board­ing could be erected and no ad­ver­tise­ment dis­played that is vis­i­ble from any pub­lic space with­out the con­sent of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

He added that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was in the process of “step­ping-up” ac­tion against those erect­ing il­le­gal signs.

“In the last two fi­nan­cial years we fo­cused on in­form­ing and ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic via let­ter and pole ad­ver­tise­ments. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of of­fend­ers are yet to com­ply. At this point the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is geared to­wards in­form­ing the pub­lic and re­mov­ing the signs, as well as is­su­ing fines,” he said.

Mat­sie in­di­cated that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had also trained peace of­fi­cers to as­sist with out­door advertising.

“Their duty is to reg­u­late and en­force the out­door advertising by-law and to en­sure that law­less­ness is dis­cour­aged. Their du­ties in­clude is­su­ing spot fines when trans­gres­sors refuse to com­ply, in­ves­ti­ga­tions, com­plaint res­o­lu­tion and court pro­cesses as well as to at­tend to gen­eral com­plaints from the pub­lic and else­where re­gard­ing out­door advertising and any is­sues of le­gal­ity.”

When asked about the neg­a­tive im­pact th­ese types of il­le­gal out­door advertising have on the city, Mat­sie said that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing a safe and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing en­vi­ron­ment which pro­moted eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment but also curbed vis­ual clut­ter.

He added that there was also a loss of in­come to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity due to the il­le­gal ad­verts.

Mat­sie agreed that ag­ing boards/bill­boards (pro­mot­ing busi­nesses that don’t ex­ist any­more), da­m­aged boards and sign poles, which are es­pe­cially preva­lent at the ma­jor en­trances to Kim­ber­ley, cre­ated a form pol­lu­tion and cre­ated a bad im­pres­sion of the city.

“Some of the boards do be­long to com­pa­nies that still ex­ist but are not main­tained by the own­ers. Ag­ing boards/bill­boards are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally re­moved and ag­ing in­for­ma­tion boards in and around the CBD have al­ready been taken down and re­placed,” he said.

Mat­sie said that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was in the process of re­vis­ing poli­cies to have more de­part­ments within the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as­sist in the con­trol of sig­nage.

“This will im­prove the man­age­ment of il­le­gal sig­nage and re­duce the amount of il­le­gal signs,” he said.

Mean­while, a Kim­ber­ley busi­ness owner has ac­cused the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of “fla­grantly wast­ing pre­cious re­sources on triv­i­al­i­ties” af­ter a team con­sist­ing of a dozen mu­nic­i­pal work­ers yes­ter­day re­moved flag poles from the front of his busi­ness.

The owner of the Half­way House Ho­tel, Brian Do­herty, yes­ter­day re­acted to the re­moval of nine flag poles, dis­play­ing the na­tional flags of sev­eral coun­tries, sit­u­ated in front of his busi­ness, by say­ing that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was wast­ing valu­able re­sources.

Do­herty said that the flags were erected for St Pa­trick’s Chris­tian Brothers’ Col­lege’s 120 year re­u­nion, where past pupils from across the globe con­gre­gated in the city last week­end.

He said the flags were erected to wel­come vis­i­tors to the city.

“This was done purely to beau­tify the area and at­tract at­ten­tion to this his­toric na­tional land­mark (the Half­way House). It was not un­sightly and was erected in an or­derly and neat fash­ion among pot plants that are also on the pave­ment.

“We have spent thou­sands of rands to pave the area. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity came, dug it up and then just left it in ru­ins,” Do­herty stated.

He also asked why the mu­nic­i­pal­ity chose to re­move the flag poles, while thou­sands of un­sightly il­le­gal advertising boards across the city, which are also placed on pave­ments, are al­lowed to stand for months and in some cases for years.

Mat­sie said yes­ter­day that a no­tice was is­sued to Do­herty, stat­ing that the flag masts had been un­law­fully erected on the side­walk, in con­tra­ven­tion of the def­i­ni­tions of the Road Or­di­nance, Advertising Signs and Na­tional Road Traf­fic Acts.

“In rem­e­dy­ing this sit­u­a­tion, it should be noted that ap­proval must be sourced for any out­door ad­ver­tise­ment and up­grades to mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty (i.e. side­walks) prior to con­struc­tion. Where any ex­ca­va­tion of mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty is re­quired, the ap­pli­cant should first source ap­proval from the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s Civil En­gi­neer­ing Sec­tion, the Elec­tri­cal Sec­tion as well as all rel­e­vant telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice providers (Telkom, MTN, Vo­da­com, Liq­uid Tele­com etc),” Mat­sie said.

When asked why the Half­way House was specif­i­cally tar­geted, when thou­sands of il­le­gal advertising boards on pave­ments, by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s own ad­mis­sion, were present in the city, Mat­sie said that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was in the process of co-or­di­nat­ing a “mas­sive clam­p­down” on il­le­gal advertising boards in Kim­ber­ley, which will see the en­tire city tar­geted, “with­out fear of favour”.

“Trans­gres­sors are warned that they will face con­se­quences. Res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers must re­alise that pave­ments be­long to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and not to them. Those think­ing other­wise must know – we are com­ing for them,” Mat­sie con­cluded.

Mil­dred Modise, from the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, can be con­tacted on 053 830 6274 for more in­for­ma­tion on out­door advertising con­cerns.

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