Isham bypass signs must be taken down, says council

Graham Rait with one of the signs.
Graham Rait with one of the signs.
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Parish councillors in Isham have been told they face prosecution if they don’t take down 40 signs as part of their campaign for a bypass.

The yellow signs have lined the A509 through the village since February with messages such as ‘bypass Isham now’ and ‘Isham needs a bypass’.

The signs can be seen along the A509 through the village.

The signs can be seen along the A509 through the village.

But parish councillor and campaigner Graham Rait says they have been told they have to be taken down by Wellingborough Council by Friday (June 16) as they don’t have the necessary advertisement consent.

Mr Rait said: “We got congratulatory messages from them when we put them up and they have been pushing us to be more demonstrative in our bid for a bypass.

“I think it’s been taken completely out of proportion.”

If the signs are not taken down, they have been warned they could face a fine of up to £2,500 per sign.

Mr Rait added that the council cannot physically take them down as they are on private property, but they had been contacted as the financiers of the signs.

Councillors were due to start taking down the signs yesterday evening.

Emails to the parish council from Wellingborough Council, seen by the Northants Telegraph, said the local authority had to be consistent in its approach.

The emails said: “I am hoping that all of the unauthorised signs throughout the village are removed as requested by June 16 and that no further action is required beyond that date but I must advise you that unlike many other aspects of planning it is a criminal offence to display signs without the necessary consents in place.

“If the signs are not removed by June 16 then enforcement action to secure their removal will commence and is likely to be referred directly to the local magistrates court where upon successful prosecution there is a maximum fine of £2500 for each separate offence (section 224 (3) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990).

“As previously mentioned the council must be seen to be open, transparent and consistent when applying enforcement policy particularly as the signs are now the subject of a complaint.”

A Wellingborough Council spokesman said: “The borough council is sympathetic to residents’ concerns and we do support the need for a bypass, however, advertisement consent is legally required to display these signs in a conservation area, on a highway verge and on private property.

“We have received a complaint about these unauthorised signs, as we have previously taken action to remove unauthorised signs elsewhere, and as such, we must be open, transparent and consistent in the way we apply our policies and deal with unauthorised signage.

“The parish council was advised that permission would be needed for displaying such signs prior to their distribution and we wrote to them on June 2 requesting that the signs be removed by June 16, giving a two-week notice period.

“We are keen to work together to secure the removal of these signs and avoid formal enforcement action and have since written to the parish council giving them the opportunity to suggest a reasonable alternative timescale for removal.

“Signs can be re-displayed if advertisement consent is granted and our planning team are happy to provide guidance to the parish council in making their application.”

Earlier this year Wellingborough Council told local schools they had to take down signs promoting their Ofsted grade for the same reason.

For years residents have fought for a route around the village and despite a plan being in place, Northants County Council cannot currently fund it.

Most recently, {http://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/breaking-government-cash-earmarked-for-isham-bypass-1-7859236|Government cash was earmarked for the project|], taking it one step closer.