Published: January 11, 2010
Birthday poster causes council enforcement row in Highbridge

Council enforcement officers at Sedgemoor District Council have requested that this "detrimental" birthday poster on an official advertising hoarding in Highbridge is taken down.

The family of well-known local livestock owner Arthur Duckett introduced the poster over the Christmas period to wish him a happy 80th birthday.

However, Sedgemoor District Council has not recognised the humour. It shows Mr Duckett and his huge steer Field Marshall with the caption "a little man with big bulls."

Council enforcement officer David Crowle rang Mr Duckett to ask him to remove the poster, even though its hanging was nothing to do with him.

Mr Duckett also received a letter from Mr Crowle the next day, stating: "It is the council’s view that the adverts are detrimental to the amenity of the area and as such will seek their removal."

It asked whether Mr Duckett woud be prepared to take down the "hoardings" without the need for formal action and warned that failure to abide by regulations could lead to a £400 fine or two years' imprisonment.

Mr Duckett said this week: "I am highly offended. I have tried to do a lot for Highbridge. There is nothing wrong with the poster, but I did not put it up.”

The poster was only intended to be temporary for a few days but its removal was delayed by the bad weather. It has since been removed, and replaced by one for Asda.


The following statement was released by Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun on January 12th...

"Highbridge has had an unusually high number of large advertising hoarding along the A38 and residential areas. Following complaints about the number of hoardings, it was agreed that action should be taken to discontinue the use of the advertising hoardings which are not attached to large commercial buildings or within industrial areas.

The only way in which hoardings can be removed is their effect on highway safety or the visual amenity.

Many of the hoardings in Highbridge are owned by large commercial companies and are clearly identified as being owned by those companies. This was not the case of the two hoardings adjacent to the Highbridge Hotel. Generally, all hoarding carry national advertising.

When a local advertisement appeared on one of the hoardings, a vigilant planning enforcement officer telephone Mr Duckett, as identified in the content of the advertisement, in an attempt to find out who actually owned the hoardings.

In a telephone conversation on Thursday, 7th January between Mr Duckett and the planning enforcement officer, SDC were given to understand that Mr Duckett was the owner of the two hoardings. It was explained to Mr Duckett the reasons why the Council were seeking to remove the hoardings (not the content of the advertisement) and that a letter would be sent to him asking him for formal information about the owner of the hoardings. It was explained only in conversation the two reasons (above) for the removal of hoardings. It was also fully explained that it was not the advert, but the hoarding that was the issue.

Subsequent information has emerged that Mr Duckett is not the owner of the hoarding and that a similar letter asking for formal information has been sent to the rightful owners in order to start proceedings to get the hoardings removed."

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