Illegal signs to come down

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A local councillor has questioned why “heavy handed” Dumfries and Galloway Council demanded that local traders either take down their advertising boards from the former Stena Line terminal on Stranraer Harbour or they would do it and recharge Stena.

Councillor Willie Scobie said: “I wrote to the council following queries made of me by a number of traders about the advertising boards placed on the Stena security fence.

“I was told that unless all unauthorised signage was removed by May 27, the council would use their powers of direct action to secure removal of same. If direct action was required, recovery of the cost of same would be pursued as a civil debt against Stena Line Ltd.

“In my opinion this was a heavy handed attitude by the council and grossly unfair on Stena.”

Councillor Scobie has asked why it was deemed necessary to remove the advertising signs when it did not seem Stena were objecting to these. He went on to say: “At least the advertising signs added colour and brightened up the front to what is a depressing and derelict site.

“This is something where a bit of discretion could have been exercised by council officials with so many of our traders suffering hard times under these times of austerity.”

The elected member for Stranraer and the North Rhins asked for the council to act reasonably or for a report on the matter to be presented to the Area Committee.

A council spokesperson said: “In April our planning department received a complaint from a local councillor that the signs were becoming an eyesore and doing nothing to improve the town’s image.

“An investigation showed that the advertisements were unauthorised. This means an offence had been committed. The signs either need to be removed or advertisement consent needs to be obtained. It is unlikely that the advertisements would be approved because they are contrary to Local Plan General Policy 11.

“Our council is always happy to promote small businesses, but there has to be a level playing field. Those who display unauthorised signs and cause visual clutter shouldn’t have an unfair advantage over those who play by the rules.”

The council added that it is prepared to discuss alternative solutions with the site owner.