To give some background to this article, concern over boards was initially raised some years ago by a Conservative Councillor of the day, Brian Pigeon, no longer alive sadly, whose lovely wife Joyce was blind. Cllr Pigeon’s concerns were very much on health and safety grounds.
Cllr Mears’ Administration Moved Forward
These concerns were taken forward under Cllr Mears’ Administration, no doubt with the support of all Councillors. Concern was raised at the time over what would get past the Secretary of State under new legislation that was released in 2007.
Hostility Towards Boards
This was quite understandable. The estate agent industry was barely online at the time and there was of course a risk that removing its ability to advertise would be hugely damaging. Alongside that, there wasn’t the same hostility towards boards that there is now. People hadn’t seen just how nice their streets could be without them.
As mentioned in the report, Cllr Robert Nemeth (Conservative – Wish Ward) brought a Notice of Motion to Full Council that received the backing of Councillors for a scheme to be introduced. Speaking for the Notice of Motion Cllr Nemeth brought confirmation of industry support and specifically mentioned areas around Hove Station.
Cllr Nemeth’s Initial Request Hijacked
Speaking in City Chambers Cllr Nemeth said “I do have to say that I am quite upset and feel that my initial request was hijacked. My request was about extending the Regulation 7 ban in historic and dense areas and we have ended up with lots of officer time, and association taxpayers’ cash, being spent on a voluntary scheme in an area where voluntary action would inevitably fail – not least through the hyper-competition of very focused agents in a particular market. I predicted such a thing at this committee.”
Cllr Nemeth returned to Committee on November 22nd (2018) asking for an attempt to be made on the Regulation 7 extension. Cllr Nemeth explained the difference in the situation now to that of 2010. To summerise these are:
1. Agent support rather than agent opposition.
2. A completely changed industry in terms of marketing including everything now being online, and window boards being quite normal.
3. A general feeling of bewilderment amongst residents at the current two-tier system where some streets have the ban and adjoining, similar, streets do not.
Speaking to the Conservative Group amendment Cllr Nemeth said “I am specifically focusing on the non-student areas because I accept that such areas would not be suitable for the Regulation 7 and am happy to trust the Chairman to open a fair conversation, and make the final decision, on what streets might be suitable.”