Friday, 17 May 2013

Inappropriate advertising criticised

I have criticised a leading company for placing advertisements on their utility boxes, without necessary permission.

Advertisements for BT Broadband from British Telecom Openreach have sprung up in the city, stuck to BT telecom utility boxes.  I have had complaints about these from constituents in Cleghorn Street and Glamis Road – the constituents wondering if the adverts are authorised.   See photo from Cleghorn Street - right.

Advertising of this kind requires advertising consent from the City Council and having asked the council, I was advised that BT Openreach has failed to apply for such consent.   From time to time, I get complaints about fly posted unauthorised advertisements but you expect a company like BT to play by the rules.   As one constituent pointed out, if every utility box and piece of street furniture had adverts stuck across them like this, it would be extremely unsightly.

A constituent complained to BT about one of the adverts and was told by BT:

“I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the sign we have placed on our cabinet.

BT have invested heavily in the local area to provide a faster Broadband service. As such we want to make people aware of this so they have the opportunity to benefit from it.

BT have the necessary rights under the relevant advertising legislation to enable us to place the signs on our cabinets.”

I therefore challenged BT to indicates what “necessary rights” BT had to give authority for their adverts .   BT replied:

“Based upon independent Legal Counsel, BT believe that the advertisement has deemed consent under both Class 2B and 5 of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.”

I have gently pointed out to BT that perhaps they have not noticed the country they are placing their adverts in!   English Regulations have no relevance to Scotland and when I asked them to provide evidence of deemed consent for sites in Scotland, I have been met with silence from BT.

As the Council’s Planning Team has confirmed that the company does indeed need planning consent, I do think BT should remove these advertisements until and if it obtains planning approval.    Personally I agree with my constituents that plastering utility boxes with such adverts is unsightly and should not be encouraged.

I spoke on Wave 102 News about the matter yesterday and you can hear this by clicking 'play' below: