A war of words has broken out over private advertising boards in Hackney.
The council has spoken out to defend the adverts after facing criticism for the boards supposedly “blighting the streets”.
A key @hackneycouncil policy for 20 years has been to improve the look and feel of our public realm. Though subliminal, the removal of railings, bollards, streets clutter including enforcement against private traders advertising boards, was all part of that. 1 of 4 pic.twitter.com/vGEp74E9l6
— Cllr Vincent Stops (@VincentStops) August 16, 2021
The boards have been visible across Hackney, including at transport hubs and shopping districts with significant passing trade such as Clapton Common.
However, a Hackney Council spokesperson told the Standard the adverts “provide a vital source of income for the council following ten years of reductions in funding from the government”.
Cllr Stops said on Twitter: “Decluttering has been at the heart of the council’s streets policies & a ‘borough for everyone’. Reducing unwanted advertising is a significant part of good planning control.
“These giant advertising hoardings were planned to be removed at the end of the contract term.
“Huge advertising hoardings should have no place on Hackney’s pavements. For 15 years the council was committed to their removal on 31 August 2021.
“But Hackney’s Mayor & cabinet overturned that at the last minute. They are here to stay, blighting our streets.”
He also said the original contract for the advertising boards had been rewritten eight years ago to pave the way for the removal and criticised the council for allowing a temporary extension.
“The 1997 contract was re-written in 2013 with a view to removing the hoardings. In 2016 the council’s Chief Exec. confirmed the contract would not allow extension”, he wrote.
“In March this year he said they should be gone. If you agree, write to your councillor.”
A Hackney Council spokesperson responded: “They have also provided an invaluable platform for important public health messages - particularly for residents who do not have access to digital channels - as we have responded to coronavirus.
“We have asked for a temporary extension to our current contract with our supplier so we can do some further insight work on their value, which was delayed due to the pandemic.
“Once this has been completed, we’ll be assessing all council-owned advertising sites, their design and outlining our final plans. No decisions have been made.”