Council responds to town billboard anger

The new billboard outside the old Bricklayer's Arms in Melton EMN-170322-113751001
The new billboard outside the old Bricklayer's Arms in Melton EMN-170322-113751001

After a deluge of complaints about a giant billboard being erected beside a planned new restaurant, Melton Council says it does not plan to approve any more in the town.

Space Outdoor put up the hoarding on Norman Way on council land next to the former Bricklayer’s Arms pub, which is being converted into an Indian restaurant.

The Melton Times reported last week that the former pub building’s owner, Atul Dawda, was unhappy that he hadn’t been consulted on the plans for the billboard.

He branded it an eyesore and fears it will detract from his new restaurant when it opens in the summer.

Readers on our Facebook page agreed with him, calling the hoarding ‘unsightly’, ‘tacky’ and a distraction for passing motorists on the busy inner ring road.

Some were also unhappy with the presence of another one near Sainsbury’s in Nottingham Road.

But the council’s corporate property manager, David Blanchard, said this week: “The council appreciates that there has been a big public response to the billboards and it would not be looking to increase the number of billboards around town.”

He said the new billboard on Norman Way had complied with advertising and planning guidelines and the Highways Authority had also been consulted and had not offered any objections.

Mr Blanchard said the council had rented out the land to gain extra income in the light of major funding cuts from central government in recent years - it has a shortfall of £933,000 between 2015/16 and 2019/20.

“The agreement with the agent is commercially sensitive and therefore we would not be able to provide rental details (on the Norman Way billboard),” added Mr Blanchard.

“The council has looked to how it can generate additional income from such initiatives such as advertising and also reduce costs whilst protecting those council services the public values the most.”

Commenting on the billboard next to the old Bricklayer’s Arms, Rose Sharkey wrote on our Facebook page: “I hope this gets moved.

“It is so not appropriate for Melton Mowbray, very tone-lowering, it makes the whole area look shabby.”

Louis Morgan wrote: “Makes us look like a cheap city centre trying to grab as much money from advertising regardless of appearance.”

Karen Oliver commented: “What an eyesore and why would the council even think this is acceptable?”

Another person unhappy with the billboard was Samantha Wyld, who wrote: “I just saw it the other day and couldn’t believe the size of it!”