Call for rethink on relaxation of A-board ban as Edinburgh Fringe posters branded 'unacceptable and dangerous'

The relaxation of the city-wide ban on A-boards and on-street advertising during the Festival could be re-examined after concerns were raised by councillors and charities.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 10:20 am
On-street advertising is a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe (Photo: Scott Arthur)

Such a move could see the Capital’s traditionally colourful and poster-filled streets become a thing of the past if the ban is extended over August.

The exemptions were called a backwards step for the city during the festival by Labour councillor Scott Arthur, while the charity Living Streets branded the on-street ads “unacceptable and dangerous”.

The full ban of on-street advertising including A-boards, railing adverts and poster adverts was approved in May last year, and applies to the entire city for 11 months of the year.

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On-street advertising is a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe (Photo: Scott Arthur)

However, an exemption was added to allow for the hundreds of posters and show adverts to be placed around the city centre and for any council advertising or marketing material.

The report approved by councillors last year stated the city is “temporarily transformed” during the Fringe, with a “longstanding acceptance” that regulations are relaxed during the summer months.

Cllr Scott Arthur, who voted in favour of the ban in May last year and sits on the Transport and Environment committee, said the on-street advertising made streets “less safe”.

He also promised to put forward a motion to re-examine the relaxation of the restrictions.

On-street advertising is a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe

He said: “Although it has not been problem free, Edinburgh’s A-Board ban has been an overwhelmingly positive move. It has made our footpaths safer and sent a message to the world that we are an inclusive city.

“It is disappointing therefore to see the exemptions offered to the Festival Fringe take us backwards.

“The creeping privatisation of our footpaths we have seen over the past week have made our city less safe at a time when the risks are highest.”

Cllr Arthur added the relaxations irritated community groups and businesses in his Colinton and Fairmilehead ward who are unable to attach banners due to worries about drivers being able to spot young children.

On-street advertising is a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe

He said: “Cleary the city has a duty to support the Festivals, but I don’t think that should extend to putting the public at risk.”

Don McKee, convenor of Edinburgh Living Streets Local Group who backed the ban last year, said on-street adverts should be carefully managed.

He said: “Street dressing to advertise events is part of the Edinburgh Festival, but this must be carefully managed to prevent obstructing Edinburgh’s busy pavements which cannot cope with the level of pedestrian flow at the best of times.

“There was a sound rationale behind the A-Board ban and during the Festival it is even more critical as folk need to have confidence that they can move around in a crowd without encountering unseen obstacles.

“Covering unsightly guardrails with posters makes sense, but placing mobile advertising structures in the way of pedestrians is clearly unacceptable and dangerous.”

Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “The ban on the category of advertising structures that encompasses A-Boards is still very much in place, helping to reduce clutter and improve accessibility on our streets.

“It’s widely recognised that the city is temporarily transformed during the festival period, when we see other types of short-term advertising on our streets.

“As was agreed at committee when the A-Board ban was first approved, a partial relaxation of restrictions specifically to manage official event-related signage helps us to limit unauthorised flyposting across the city.

“We remain committed to improving and facilitating welcoming, accessible streets year-round and throughout the festival season we work closely with event organisers to make sure event advertising structures meet with public safety requirements.”