Please relax ban on banners

I note from last week’s Free Press that once again a local event has fallen foul of Babergh’s Banner Ban.

In your round-up of other local societies aiming to publicise their events you omitted to mention Sudbury Dramatic Society at The Quay Thetre, which has suffered enormously by this ruling.

I recently directed a play for Sudbury Dramatic Society and found it much harder to get the publicity for this compared with what I was able to achieve previously.

One of the biggest elements I felt was missing was the banner that I had in the past been able to site on the railings outside St Peter’s on Market Hill.

I was aware that a previous production had been instructed to remove it but that the director had been able to relocate it successfully elsewhere.

Seeing as how, on a quick drive around Sudbury, I was aware of banners advertising various other events, by other societies at The Quay, for festivals, nearly new sales and so on all taking place in the town, positioned outside garages and on other church railings and wanting to do this as well to advertise my own production, I contacted first of all the town council and was redirected by them to the planning department at Babergh District Council.

There I was told in no uncertain terms that none of these advertising banners was legal and it was not the St Peter’s site itself that was not allowed - it was an advertising banner on any site at all!

I was not at all clear why this should be so and so I looked up the planning regulations.

I don’t feel that what I was told was strictly true and, without getting too bogged down, various categories of advertising banners have “deemed consent”.

This covers everything from “please shut the gate”, shop front signs, churches and so on to the advertising around the Sainsbury’s construction site.

However, there is a category (3) that gives consent to temporary advertising for notices and signs that are intended to publicise a forthcoming event held for charitable purposes, but not commercial ones, or to advertise a short-term use of the advertisement site itself - which in fact should imply “deemed consent” to a banner for the events inside St Peter’s itself.

Otherwise, the rules state that “virtually all posters” require proper planning permission which can be applied for on an official form (at a price of course) and the only issues that the council are able to take into account in opposition to this are “amenity and public safety”, with a right of an appeal to the Secretary of State if permission is refused

I think that Babergh District Council’s blanket attitude to this situation is therefore wrong. The Quay Theatre is a registered charity and SDS productions aim to raise money for the theatre. I even suggested that I site our banner at the back of St Peter’s where it would not impede any drivers trying to read it, which would accord with any public safety issues!

Obviously some advertising banners are “slipping through the net” or like the one in last week’s paper, are simply unaware of the existence of these regulations.

It annoys me that SDS is now sticking to this regulation and telling directors that we cannot let them site a banner anywhere in the town, with the net result of a lack of awareness of all our productions and the knock-on effect of less income for The Quay at Sudbury.

This decision has even caused some friction within the society itself, as obviously directors want to put their best efforts into publicising their plays!

I would like Babergh to publicise its reasons for stating a blanket ban on banners and to explain how this relates to the category three planning regulations and why they consider it to apply across the board.

LINDA DOWDALL

Stanley Wood Avenue

Sudbury