As part of the ongoing community arts billboard project in St Werburghs, artist Bill Posters recently spent three days talking to local residents about what’s important, and what’s not important to them, about their local community. At the same time, over 60 surveys were completed by residents providing an opportunity to have their say. The results of this exercise formed the content for the artwork which was installed at the Burg Arts community billboard site in August 2018.
The aim of the consultation exercises and artwork is to understand:
In an ideal community, what the most important aspects for a healthy neighbourhood are for residents of St. Werburghs
Whether different types of pollution in their neighbourhood are felt to be an issue
To find out what people in St. Werburghs value about their community today
To find out what residents would change about their community if they could
To assess whether residents of St. Werburgh’s think that corporate advertising is an issue in their community
Right. There are 13 planning applications for new digital advertising screens in process for central Bristol and Clifton. These would mean yet more brightly lit, changing advertising displays causing obstructions and vying for our attention, which we really don’t need.
The official deadline for comments has actually just passed but comments are still open so please ACT NOW! We’ve recently seen the council reject a whole bunch of new digital screens, following a large number of objections from people in Bristol. So, please do take a few minutes to submit your objections to these new applications and let planning officers know your concerns.
Our monthly organising meetings are open to anyone who’s interested in planning and delivering the campaign for an ad-free Bristol, and related activities. Maybe you have an idea you’d like to share, or want to know how you can get involved, or simply want to find out more. All are welcome.
Date: Wednesday 17 October 2018
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Venue: Resbite Cafe, 27 Broad Street, Bristol BS1 2HG
A local Green councillor for Clifton Down in Bristol has successfully applied for an unsightly abandoned billboard on Whiteladies Road to be removed. Her work follows successful campaigns by local communities across Bristol to remove billboards in St Werburghs, St Pauls and Christmas Steps, and continuing work by the campaign group Adblock Bristol to oppose new and existing billboards across the city.
Local groups including the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, the St Werburghs Neighbourhood Association and St Pauls Planning Group have in recent years identified numerous billboards in the city that were erected without consent, and have successfully requested that the Council’s planning enforcement team serve notice on the owners to remove them. Inspired by these successes, Councillor Denyer applied for the abandoned and broken billboard in her ward overlooking Whiteladies Road to be removed. This week the Council served a discontinuance notice to the owners. Providing that no appeal is lodged, the billboard will be removed later this year. Continue reading “Remove abandoned billboards that blight our city”
Organisations in Bristol have co-signed a letter to councillors expressing opposition to proposals for two enormous digital advertising screens in the city centre.
Councillors will be considering the proposals at a meeting on 11 July. We hope they will take account of the many concerns raised in the letter which is signed by organisations including Bristol Civic Society, Bristol Child Friendly City, Up Our Street and Bristol Walking Alliance as well as a number of local planning groups, and academic Professor Agnes Nairn of the University of Bristol who has researched extensively on the impact of marketing on children.
Public objections to new digital advertising plans in Bristol are showing the council that people don’t want these intrusive, unwelcome screens in the city’s public spaces. But campaigners say that despite the decisive show of public opinion and a lack of understanding about the harmful impacts of this technology, we may still see new digital advertising screens in our city soon.
The council received almost sixty objections against plans for a huge digital advertising screen on Stapleton Road in Easton. A new digital screen proposed opposite Temple Meads station has also proved a very unpopular idea with the public, and has been rejected by the council as it would be a distraction and safety risk at this busy junction, and it would dominate the view and detract from nearby listed buildings.
Elsewhere, a huge digital billboard planned for Mina Road in St Werburghs, to overlook the M32, has been refused for a second time. The advertisers were undeterred by the strength of public feeling about the screen, which was initially rejected following over seventy objections from local residents, and then rejected again by the government’s Planning Inspectorate when it was brought to appeal. With apparent contempt for the views of the people who would actually have to live by the eyesore, an almost identical application was made last year, was again rejected by the council and again by the Planning Inspectorate.
Following dozens of public comments expressing alarm at plans to introduce twenty-five new Google-backed ‘InLink’ wifi units across Bristol, each with two digital advertising screens, data capture technology and surveillance capacity, planning officers at Bristol City Council have decisively rejected all twenty-five applications.
Nicola Round from campaigning group Adblock Bristol said: “We’re pleased that in many cases the council is listening to people’s concerns and standing up to the advertisers, who have no regard for public opinion and simply want to fill our public spaces with increasingly intrusive and unavoidable adverts for junk food, cars and cheap fashion.
“The ‘InLink’ units were swept through in London despite a lack of clarity around how the technology will be used and how it will affect citizens, but Bristol has recognised the multiple social and environmental problems associated with these units and is taking a stand.
“The advertisers are likely to appeal the council’s decision however, and they may even try to use different tactics to bypass the usual planning process, as is happening in Kingston. It seems they are trying a different approach after their setback in Bristol, and are hoping to get their unwanted units ushered through as essential telecommunications equipment, which is not subject to the same scrutiny. If they try this in Bristol, it will show once again that the advertisers really do have no regard for the wishes of the people who will actually have to live with these units, or the carefully considered decisions of the council, who have clearly stated why these units are not right for our city.”
However plans are still in progress for two enormous digital advertising screens in the city centre, one on the Temple Way central reservation, the other on Bond Street above the pedestrian walkway alongside Cabot Circus. Both applications have received dozens of objections from Bristolians and local groups who are concerned about issues including pedestrian safety, the potential impact on wildlife, and the additional stress and pressure of consumer messages, particularly on young people.
Adblock Bristol is urging the council to reject these plans, and to put any new plans on hold until they have a much better understanding of the impacts of digital advertising, and what it means for Bristol.
“We are constantly exposed to commercial advertising which uses manipulative techniques to make us feel inadequate, unattractive or unsuccessful unless we buy that new fast car, fizzy drink or perfume,” said Round. “This undermines our mental health, our wellbeing and our environment. Rather than introducing yet more of this visual pollution, we want to see corporate advertising removed from our public spaces to create a happier, less stressed-out city free from the constant pressure to consume.”
Bristol is already showing how public space once reserved for corporate advertisements can instead can be used in a more positive way. Residents in St Werburghs have been enjoying a new artwork installed on a disused billboard as part of the ‘Burg Arts’ project. The piece by artist Alpha Wilson celebrates the local community and environment and offers a positive alternative to the corporate billboards in the area.
We’re delighted to say that Bristol City Council have rejected the proposals for 34 new digital advertising screens on our streets, which we first reported on here.
Thank you Bristol City Council, and big thank you to everyone who objected to the proposals – your voices will have helped the Council step up and say that Bristol doesn’t want these InLink units here!
Each application has a report detailing the reasons it was rejected and copied below are some of the problems that applied to every proposed site. We don’t want them because of the unsightly and dangerous advertising screens, but it turns out there’s lots of other things to be concerned about too!
Robbie Gillett from Adblock Bristol said,
“The moves by the London Mayor are an important first step in acknowledging the negative social impacts that outdoor advertising can have on us – and Bristol should take note. Whether it’s junk food, new polluting cars or photoshopped models trying to sell us products, we should be taking collective action against outdoor advertising to address issues of obesity, air quality, debt, consumerism and mental health problems.”
“Advertisers are applying for more and more digital ad screens to be introduced to our streets. But we need to reduce the amount of corporate advertising in the city – not add more. We’re calling on Bristol Council to review the social, environmental and economic impacts of all outdoor advertising in the city – especially in the revision of the Local Plan.”
Nicola Round from Adblock Bristol said,
“The removal of all large scale outdoor advertising sites in our city would be a bold and inspiring move which would show that Bristol cares about the wellbeing of people, our environment and our local businesses above the interests of faceless corporations trying to sell us more and more stuff.”
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, supports the junk food ban:
“The evidence is clear that, although it is not a silver bullet, restricting the amount of junk food adverts children are exposed to will help reduce obesity,” she said.
“Children are inundated with adverts for unhealthy food so this is a really encouraging move and a bold step in the right direction.”
Amsterdam already has a similar ban on junk food advertising in place. Grenoble in France has removed all outdoor advertising from its streets in a move aimed to “free up public space from advertising to develop areas for public expression” according to its Mayor.
Bristol residents have mobilised across the city recently against a wave of new planning applications for large format digital screens that have been submitted to Bristol City Council, including St Werburghs, Easton, Temple Way and Cabot Circus. Residents have accused advertising companies of ignoring the wishes of local communities by regularly appealing rejected planning applications to the national Planning Inspectorate despite public opposition.
Live planning applications in Bristol – 11 May 2018 – (These have between 15 – 60 objections each)
New digital screen planning application opposite Temple Meads train station. Details here .
Large new screen proposed for Bond Street South in centre of town. Details here
Large new screen proposed for Temple Way in centre of town. Details here