Midhurst campaigner wages war against sign clutter

A NEW campaign has been launched against ‘the obscenity’ of sign clutter in the Midhurst area.

It is being led by John Trueman, editor of the online community magazine Midhurst Pages, who led a similar campaign in 2007 against the sea of signs which dominated the main roads in the town and surrounding area.

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He is now back in action after the problem resurfaced. “Sign clutter is now a visual obscenity in the national park,” he claimed.

The new campaign follows what he called a ‘summer of seasonal sign clutter’ on main roads, particularly the A286 at the Graffham turn-off.

“We are investigating the whole messy confection which is sign clutter, especially as exemplified in and around Midhurst where in the past six months there has been a mushrooming of temporary yellow directional signs for events and 
new housing.”

Mr Trueman said the immediate aim was to get information from West Sussex County Council on the rules and regulations on road signs which applied in the county and then try to refer them, with the county council’s help, to individual developments around Midhurst.

“We are seeking answers as to why there are so many signs advertising the King Edward VII estate far from the property, likewise the Little Gate and West Gate developments, and why old temporary yellow events signage is allowed to remain in place several weeks after the event.

“There appears to be ‘open season’ on signage at the present moment which is very worrying.”

Christopher Napier, who heads the Hampshire CPRE (Campaign 
to Protect Rural England) 
anti-clutter campaign, has backed Mr Truman’s actions.

“It is well recognised that unnecessary signage, of all types, degrades the landscape and townscape,” he said “and the ability of people to appreciate it.”

He said it was especially important for roads in a national park to be free of this clutter. “To radically improve this aspect of the public realm in the SDNP would provide a beneficial impact on the landscape out of all proportion to the effort involved, I suggest, and provide a clear sense of place in the national park.”

The issue of excessive and unlawful road clutter came out as the top priority in a project on transport matters carried out by the old South Downs Forum.

Sign clutter reduction was a clear objective of the department of transport and new regulations were due to reduce mandatory signage, said Mr Napier.

He pointed out that traffic calming schemes which removed road signs caused drivers to slow down: “Rogate is now pitching for such a scheme.”

A clear vision was now needed, he said, for roads in the park and how they should look, followed up by clear and enforceable rules on road signs and advertisements.