Advertising drums face ban from sensitive Edinburgh sites

Picture; Ian Georgeson
Picture; Ian Georgeson
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THE city council is set to veto new advertising drums which it commissioned contractors to provide in key city centre sites.

The free-standing 2.4 metre high circular structures are designed to discourage flyposting – which was costing the council £300,000 a year to clean up – by providing a 
legitimate place to advertise cultural organisations and events.

But planning officials have recommended refusal of consent for three out of eight sites proposed by City Centre Posters (CCP).

They say the drums would have an “unacceptable detrimental impact” on two proposed locations at Castle Terrace and one at St Andrew Square.

Applications for the Grassmarket, Festival Square, Morrison Street, Shandwick Place and Dalry Road are recommended for approval.

The first drums were introduced in the Grassmarket in 2003 as part of a pilot scheme operated by CCP.

Eventually 18 drums were positioned across the city centre, including St Andrew Square and Castle Terrace.

But following a complaint in 2014 the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman was critical of the council’s failure to follow a procurement process for operating the drums.

And councillors complained there was no proper oversight of the scheme and no commercial advertising consent, which is required under planning law.

CCP won a contract from the council in the summer to continue providing drums and the firm is now seeking consent for the sites, and plans to introduce a new design of drum.

A consultation closed last month on a variety of design options for the tops of the drums, including one mimicking the crown spire of St Giles Cathedral. Others were inspired by the Forth Bridge, the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat.

Claire Miller, Green councillor for City Centre ward, said: “The city centre used to have a big problem with out-of-­control fly posting, and while we do still suffer from an element of this, the advertising drums can be a way to help regulate and control it.

“However I’m keen that they are limited in number and are placed carefully, as there is a risk of over-commercialising the public realm if we allow too many of these structures.

“I can understand why some of the advertising drums are being recommended for refusal. The context of the location and the impact on resident amenity is very important.”

A council spokeswoman said the price of the contract with CCP was commercially confidential and the council could not comment on a live planning application.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com