Hundreds of road signs which are no longer necessary have been removed by Northamptonshire County Council as part of a project to de-clutter streets – making them safer and more attractive.
The work was prompted after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wrote to councils last year urging them to ‘cut the clutter’.
Since then the county council has worked with councillors, MPs, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and parish councils to help identify which signs should be removed.
So far a total of 800 redundant, damaged and illegal signs along with 1,300 sign posts from the county’s roads have been taken down.
The county council’s proactive approach to de-cluttering highways was recently endorsed at the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transport conference. The council was asked to speak at the conference after receiving an award in June in recognition of the project from the Department for Transport.
The initiative will also develop to be a key part of the council’s new highway asset maintenance strategy, which was approved by cabinet in September. The strategy is about consulting with people in the county to see how the highways infrastructure can be rationalised to reduce costs.
Cllr Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “There has always been a difficult balance between essential road signing and unsightly clutter.
“Often signs that were once installed to address a hazard, tourist destination or required to comply with regulations are now no longer needed due to either a change in layout or a relaxation in legislation. In some areas this had led to a proliferation of redundant signs.
“Not only is street clutter unsightly but it can also distract and confuse drivers which can be a safety issue.
“However this is just a precursor to the wider highway asset maintenance strategy, which is a radical way of working with the public to make the highways network more efficient.”
As well as looking better and making highways safer, clearing the signage has other benefits including reducing the amount of maintenance required and reducing the energy costs associated with unnecessary lit signs.
About 60 per cent of the signs removed can be used to replace signs within the county that have deteriorated or can be used as part of new improvement schemes saving on manufacture costs and carbon emissions. Signs and posts that cannot be re-used will be recycled.
Any redundant signage can be reported to The Street Doctor on www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/streetdoctor or alternatively call 0300 126 1000.