• BSGA in a spin!

    Posted by Mike Brown on October 13, 2002 at 12:57 am

    Well, once again the BSGA have really excelled themselves! Their latest flyer (No8, August 2002) which I received with the Sign Directions magazine this week, carried the headline: “Council Officials to Approve New Signs”

    The feature was their response to the implication of a recent green paper to move decisions on planning matters (including signs) to a local council level, away from central government.

    As I read the feature, which was their leading story, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the arrogant, self-opinionated and gung-ho manner with which this body (that purports to represent the whole trade?) was dismissing such an important social topic.

    The whole piece has the BSGA playing at both judge and jury. Their remarks question the competence and ability of both local councils and, therefore, local people (who make up those councils) to both know and judge what is best for them, their children and the place in which they live.

    Remarks that planning consent for signs would be ‘subject to the whims of local councils’ and ‘the vagaries of a myriad of local policies’ seem to indicate all too clearly the low opinion the BSGA has of those who actually live in the locations where their members signs will be sited…and that includes you!

    There are two paragraphs within the feature that basically say the same thing and I’d like to share one of these – it reads:

    “Present policy…says that sign application can only be refused on the grounds of public safety or amenity, with little more than a passing reference to the local plan. Under the proposals…individual local plans would become pre-eminent over amenity and public safety issues.”

    The first part of this paragraph is arrogant and dismissive of the wants and needs of local people. The later part would have us believe that you and I would reject an application for planning regardless of the public safety issues – which is down-right ludicrous!

    When it comes down to whether or not brightly illuminated signs for yet another fast food hut or all-night petrol station should, or should not be given approval – then I think the people who must live under the glare of those signs know more about their impact on everyday life than either those who build them or those who pay for them, neither of whom likely live within a hundred miles.

    We’re told that the new proposals would generate the need for ‘specialist planning managers’ and that this would ‘add yet more cost to an overly competitive industry’. Surely, if the same rules apply across the trade, whether dealing with planning at a local or national level – then even though the goal posts may change, they change for everyone concerned and therefore have no effect on the overall competitiveness of the industry.

    Besides which, the give-away here is the phrase ‘overly competitive industry’ which is the real problem facing the UK’s largest sign companies more than any planning issue. More and more companies chasing fewer larger contracts and cutting each others throats as they go…and then blaming everyone else – right down to the local villager on the local council who, god forbid, should stand in the way of an ever decreasing margin!

    The whole piece goes on and on about ‘the demise of our much loved…policy on sign consent’, the ‘thin end of the wedge’, about ‘how will we be able to advise our clients?’ Hold on!…on that last note, who is it the BSGA represents? – its sign making members or the end-user? Just exactly where do the loyalties of this democratically elected council(?) lie? Is it with their own profit margins or with helping to build a better, stronger sign trade?…you might be forgiven for wondering – when it portrays us all as being ‘overly competitive’?

    As a body that, allegedly, represents the Britsh sign trade, the BSGA may seem to be more concerned at times with the wants of its wealthiest members’ customers than it is about such things as it’s paying members, the image the sign trade conveys to the public and the wants and needs of that public regarding signs in their environment?

    Historically, many have accused the BSGA of being inward looking and impervious to the needs of the smaller independent sign makers who continue to make up the majority of the UK sign trade. In recent years a new image, a shake-up of its practices and even a different name were seen to herald a new era in the BSGA – one which promised to bring a new enlightened body to the fore…regrettably, if this latest feature is anything to go by, we may find (as many suspect) that it’s all been a lot of spin to counter a falling membership, increase revenues and hide its past!

    More soon

    Martin Pearson replied 21 years, 9 months ago 6 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • signscript

    October 13, 2002 at 7:19 am

    this is why i didnt part with hundreds of my hard earned pounds to join!!

    you can get much better advice and support from the UKSG dont you think!!

  • Phill Fenton

    October 13, 2002 at 1:13 pm

    I absolutely agree with you Kevin. 😀

  • Robert Lambie

    October 13, 2002 at 2:11 pm

    i too agree with kev… 😉

    as for what mike says i think you too are spot on…
    we also looked at being part of them but found unless a big sign outfit you paid hundreds to fly there flag and gain very little else.. 🙄

    sod that, those few hundred pounds can pay wages and bills…

  • Martin Pearson

    October 14, 2002 at 12:01 am

    As a member of the BSGA I have also read the article that Mike is talking about and I am not so sure I agree with all his comments. I am not sticking up for the BSGA as I cant say being a member has really benefited me at all. As a new company we joined as associate members for £199 a year, I know it would cost some of you a lot more as rates are based on turnover.
    I think Mike is right in his view that only the large companies gain and the BSGA are not so interested in the small independant signmakers.
    As far as the article goes though I read it a different way, it might have been that the article was badly written or perhaps I have read it wrong but I think the main point of the article was that at the moment government makes the decisions so if a large company wants to change signs across the UK then there is no real problem.
    If the law changes then that large company would have to make a planning application to every local council where it wanted to make these changes and anyone of them could reject them for any reason it wanted.
    This would be a complete nightmare for any large company that wanted to either expand or change its image. It wouldnt really affect the small sign companies at all as there are not to many with major national contracts, but it would affect the large sign companies so maybe this is why the BSGA have picked up on it.
    I think some local councils take things to far already, you will see very little neon in Fife, this is because Fife council dont like it and reject applications on the grounds that it is a distraction and therefore unsafe. Travel a few miles in either direction to say either Edinburgh or Dundee and it is a completly different story. I’m not saying these places are over run with neon but it is a lot more prominent as these councils take a different view.

  • Mike Brown

    October 14, 2002 at 9:09 am

    good reply Martin – some interesting points too.

    I still believe that decisions about the placement of signs should, in the most part, be one made by the people who have to live with them!

    As you rightly say – this is unlikely to affect the work of local signmakers to the same degree as national ones – but that’s the whole point, these nationals care little for the wants and needs of the people in question and the effect their actions have on the local surroundings – and the BSGA say they support that?

    Just because the BSGA has most of these ‘nationals’ as its members shouldn’t mean it’s guidelines and code of pratices only benefit them -though I suppose that’s difficult when people from those same nationals are also members of the BSGA council?

    If it’s truly representative of the trade, as it would have us believe, then surely it should start doing just that, and not just representing the few! It would be nice to believe that the BSGA was indeed a body that represents the sign trade in the ways mentioned in my initial post – but it seems it may simply be a mouth-piece for its wealthiest members to try and get what they want when they want it…

    more soon

  • Martin Pearson

    October 14, 2002 at 11:07 pm

    I have to agree with you Mike, in the most part the BSGA does only seem interested in what the big boys want. You are probably right about the council but dont also forget this is also where they get the bulk of their money as well so its understandable they support these views, even if it is not correct.
    It would be nice if the BSGA supported the whole industry as you say, perhaps if the council contained a member or two from a small sign company then things might be a little different but we both know thats not going to happen dont we.
    If its possible the new legislation might actually benefit the smaller companies, after all the local signmaker should be up to speed with what the local council will allow and what they are likely to reject.
    I dont know how this will be of benefit but we must be able to turn it to our advantage somehow.

  • Martin C

    October 15, 2002 at 11:04 pm

    On a slightly different tack but still concerning placement of signs does anyone know the regulations governing the siting and fixing of AA directional signs? In my area (Essex) and I’m sure across the country you expect to see signs for major tourist attractions and events but in recent weeks in one particular area where a new bypass has been built are directional signs for a Commercial Van Dealer and others that are blatant advertising hoardings.

    The reasons for asking are two fold: 1: They don’t need to buy a new sign from me.2: Can their nearby competitors insist on a similar sign for their business or even oput up their own?

  • Martin Pearson

    October 16, 2002 at 11:03 pm

    You generally need local authority planning permission for roadside signs, which I know in Fife is not generally given, I would imagine a lot of other areas in the country are the same.
    These signs may well have been put up with no permission at all, people in Fife do it quite a lot. Eventually the council will tell them to take them down within a given number of days. If they are not removed the council take them down and bill the business for there removal. How long they stay up depends on a number of factors which seem to include: How official they look, if someone has complained about them (normally a compeditor), general apperance and where the inspector is currently working.
    I know of some signs that are down within a number of days and some that have been up for years. It seems to be a case of you pay your money you take your chance. I would never install roadside signs for anyone unless they first proved to me they had permission.

Log in to reply.