Controversial street adverts to be removed

BUSINESSES in Edinburgh have criticised council officials for approving controversial pavement advertisements without consulting nearby proprietors.

Newington Pharmacy owner Mr Aziz said that he did not know the adverts would be placed outside his store in Clark Street until his staff turned up for work the day after they had been inserted.

The council have now agreed to remove the so-called ‘clean graffiti’ ads, which aim to crack down on benefit fraud. They have attracted an increasing number of complaints from residents and shop owners who believe that city bosses are personally targeting them.

Mr Aziz has two of the ads directly outside the front door of his shop.

One of the anti-benefit fraud adverts outside Newington Pharmacy

He said: “It would have been nice for the council to get permission from the owners of private properties before going ahead with this campaign. The first I heard about it was when I came into work the next day and saw the adverts on the pavement outside.

“I have no objections to the signs overall but I think the council could have gone about it a bit better. It is out of order that they did not think to contact property owners in the surrounding areas.”

The manager of a nearby pub which has several of the controversial adverts sprayed onto the pavement outside felt his patrons were being targeted by the campaign.

Peter Brooks of the Maltings Alehouse in Montague Street, also in the Newington area, said: “It was as if I was being victimised and a lot of customers were asking about it. It’s not as if they only put one outside – there were three.”

The council have also received complaints about the adverts being placed outside residential properties.

The technique works by placing a template of the advert on the surface of a grubby pavement and jet-washing over the top leaving the cleaned area displaying the advert.

The government campaign was launched earlier this year by the Department of Work and Pensions and approved by Edinburgh City Council. The DWP then arranged to have the slogans jet-washed onto 30 streets across the capital as part of the crack down.

But the city’s environment leader, councillor Robert Aldridge, slammed the idea, claiming it was ineffective and could encourage illegal graffiti.

He said: “I am concerned that they send out mixed messages although we are quite clear that graffiti is unacceptable. I don’t personally think it is a very effective way of dealing with benefit fraud although we are willing to talk with the DWP about other ways we can assist them.”

A DWP statement said: “No advert should be placed directly outside private residences and we are sorry for any offence or inconvenience caused.”