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Signs at the Queensway /  Kilnhouse Road Junction St Annes
Signs at the Junction of Queensway and Kilnhouse Lane, St Annes 27 January 2016

Now You See Them - now you don't

Sign Devouring BoggartWith apologies and due deference to the Spiderwick Chronicles, our readers are indeed fortunate to see this rare glimpse of Fylde's mossland sign devouring boggart.

It has been stomping around Fylde devouring signs at the side of the road. And if you don't believe us, read on....
 

Background
In our last article ('Jan 16 Fracking Update'), we highlighted Fylde Council's move to prosecute the owner of Maple Farm for public information signs he had erected on his land bordering Preston New Road - the A583 from Blackpool to Preston.

We noted that the yellow and white ones (pictured on the verge below from a while ago) had simply replaced some cream and green advertising ones that we remembered being on that verge going back to the 1970s or 80s.

Original signs

But these yellow and white signs had a different message - they explained to the public at large, Mr Tootill's genuine and sincerely held belief of the danger that fracking will cause to the environment in which his children will grow up. (The farm is very close to the site which Cuadrilla want to explore for shale gas)

And it's that message that seems to have upset someone at FBC.

We agree that the evidence for what to us seems to be a tyrannical attempt to censor his anti fracking message is only circumstantial, but in our previous article we drew attention to other places where unofficial signs had proliferated for years, and said -

"And if signs or notices have been in place for years without being prosecuted - as they have been in many places along the A583, and at the Queensway / Kilnhouse Lane Junction ... where there seem to be permanent signs as well as those advertising events, and near the end of Division Lane, and throughout Fylde we think it's unusual - to say the least - if you suddenly up and pick on one of these locations, (especially when you know there is shortly to be a big public inquiry in the offing that will attract national attention) and all the other locations where notices are left in peace."

One of our readers told us "I couldn't help thinking the timing of this prosecution is targeted. For it to happen just before the site visit by the Inspector cannot be coincidence. To ensure all the signs of resistance in local community are down really is another attempt to subvert democracy in Lancashire in my view."

We also published some other pictures -

Garden Centre signs

For example this one - which is within a few yards of the signs FBC finds offensive. Now it may be - and quite possibly is - the case that these signs have been granted planning permission.

But they have no less impact on the amenity of the area, and their capacity to distract drivers and endanger highway safety is no less significant than those 50 yards or so along the road, for which Fylde is seeking a prosecution.

And the only two reasons that a sign might breach advertising consent are: that the signs are detrimental to the amenity of the area; or that they endanger highway safety.

Is it one law for commerce and another for the community that is being hypocritically played out by Fylde?

But perhaps even more telling is our picture of Queensway/Kilnhouse Lane (at the top of this article) - showing the signs that had been at the Queensway Junction for years.

This photo was published in our article of Saturday 27th January

On the following Wednesday, the signs at Queensway had all gone

Yes really!

Another of our readers told us on that day "When I exited Kilnhouse Lane at its junction with Queensway, just now, all the illegal advertisements featured in the most recent Counterbalance had been removed."

That puzzled us.

How on earth could that have come about?

We've been told on numerous occasions that the senior folk at FBC don't read counterbalance.

During the Streetscene whitewash inquiry, a former Chief Executive said exactly that. When he was asked how counterbalance could have published a story about what went wrong - before the Chief Executive said he had first become aware of the problem.

And we've lost count of the number of time that the current Council Leader Susan Fazackerley has told us she doesn't read counterbalance when she complains about something we've written.

So who could have taken the unauthorised signs down?

We do know a Parish Councillor in the far flung reaches of Fylde was once supplied with pair of pliers by FBC's Chief Executive and told she could take down signs on the highway that did not have authority to be there.

And we recall being told that Cllr Fazackerley carries a pair in her boot for the same reason. But surely it couldn't have been her, because she doesn't read counterbalance.

The plot thickened.

Eventually, the only thing we could think of was that, being so close to the Moss, a sign-devouring boggart had risen up from the moss, stomped across the road, and devoured all the signs.

Perhaps as he ate, he hummed a little ditty:

I guess that I will never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all

We can only conclude that this boggart must be a counterbalance reader and it is using our website to find its next meal.

SO, if you live within Fylde, and you have signs that are unsightly and impacting on the amenity of your area, or endangering highway safety, you now have a perfect opportunity to have them removed.

Obviously the best way to start is to email a photo of the sign to FBC and ask them to remove it.

But if that doesn't work, just send the picture to counterbalance and we will publish it as yet another example of a site where FBC has failed to take action to remove it and - it's almost guaranteed - that within a couple of days, the sign devouring boggart will be round and the sign will be gone.

There is a precedent for boggarts in the Fylde area. About 20 years ago residents around Roseacre and Treales had a campaign which featured home made boggarts (a bit like the village scarecrow schemes) with a boggart sitting in almost every cottage garden.

And if you think we're wrong about our sign-devouring-boggart-counterbalance-reader, there definitely was one at the Protest Camp a while back. This was outside its home....

Boggarts against fracking
 

Dated:  2 February 2016


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