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McLoughlin's call to end clutter

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has stressed that local councils now have the power to reduce the confusing clutter of raod signs if they wish to do so.

Speaking to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, he said:

Too many country roads carry a reminder of how insensitive planners can be to aesthetics. Ugly and unnecessary signs clutter up the network. New signs seem to sprout like weeds, without any apparent
consideration of what’s already there. Often what we’re left with is not just a blot on the landscape. It’s confusing and potentially dangerous too.

We had a traffic signs review in 2011, and we’ve relaxed rules that used to insist on two signs by the road side when one would do. And we’re working on revised Traffic Signs Regulations. The combined
effect of these changes will be to give authorities and designers much greater freedom to simplify and use fewer signs at country junctions. So my message today to highways engineers is: if in doubt, don’t do it.

There is an irony with localism. Ministers are impatient for councils to rediscover a capacity for independent thought, varied action, diverse behaviour. Local authorities are so used to being agents of central government that freedom is taking a while to sink in. Like prisoners trying to adjust to life outside there is a process of deinstitutionalisation. So the npotion that if a road sign is unnecessary they can get rid of it is difficult to understand. This is slow burn localism.


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