'Let's scrap big billboards and support local business,' says Bristol councillor
CALLS have been made to scrap all advertising billboards in Bristol as a way of supporting local businesses.
Green Party councillor for Ashley Gus Hoyt believes people have had enough of being bombarded with large corporate banners at every turn.
Whether you walk, drive or cycle through Bristol billboards try to sell you everything from mobile phones to instant coffee.
Mr Hoyt says it gives big companies an unfair advantage over smaller, independent traders who need to be helped in the middle of a recession.
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It's worked in Sao Paulo, Brazil – the seventh largest city in the world – where 15,000 adverts were taken down after a new law was passed in 2006.
Mr Hoyt, ward councillor for Ashley, said: "With the cuts and more and more purse strings tightening we will see advertising encroaching on our lives. They completely bombard you with one side of the argument, and it's only multi nationals who can afford it.
"It gives unfair advantage over our local independent traders who we should be supporting.
"Just one example is bookshops. There are hardly any independent bookshops that aren't second hand because people just think 'Amazon'.
"We're not as bad as the States yet but it's the 'not yet' I worry about."
One of the worst hotspots is on the M32 coming into the city, the councillor claimed.
He said: "Easton residents are sick and tired of them.
"The other main one in Ashley is the Mina Road roundabout.
"There are three billboards and one further along the road before the Better Food Company.
"They're constantly graffitied and it's very much a residential area. Those should be torn down immediately."
This isn't the first time there has been a backlash against advertising banners in Bristol.
Last year conservationists forced the city council to rethink plans to put up hundreds of advertising banners on lampposts across Bristol.
The Bristol Civic Society, Neighbourhood Planning Network and other community groups such as the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter joined forces to oppose the introduction of the "money making gimmick".
Mr Hoyt believes the only adverts that should stay are those that help people rather than sell them something, like anti-smoking advice.
The councillor is backing the Bristol Pound, a currency also aimed at encouraging people to shop locally rather than in big chain stores, for the same reason.
He said: "The Bristol Pound is brilliant. The more you spend in the local economy the more it stays in the local economy.
"As Ciaran Munday [director of the Bristol Pound scheme] said, corporations hoover it up."
The argument against such a ban is it would damage the economy and potentially lead to job losses.
Mr Hoyt points to Sao Paulo where six years ago the mayor passed the Clean City Law to cut down on "visual pollution".
Thousands of signs were taken down despite protests from businesses.
But according to surveys 70 per cent of residents felt it made the city a better place to live.
Removing billboards also revealed more of the city's architecture which had previously been covered up, supporters argued.
The councillor said: "In Sao Paulo it actually boosted the local economy. "There would be the short term putting people out of work, particularly in advertising, but it wouldn't necessarily get rid of advertising all together.
"In Sao Paulo it resulted in guerrilla advertising as people found ways to get round it."