Sol ‘coming for’ illegal advertisers
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.