Fly posting – Putting up posters or signs without permission
Fly-posting is displaying adverts and other promotional materials without permission, on buildings, posts, poles, litter bins and elsewhere in public. Fly-posting is mainly done by businesses and community groups that want free advertising. Many local councils have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on fly-posting.
In England/Wales, fly-posting is illegal (in certain circumstances) under the Highways Act 1980 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Offences under the 1980 Act include that of obliterating a traffic sign, while under the 1990 Act it is an offence to display an advertisement in a way that breaches specified regulations. Legal measures to prevent fly-posting include:
- On-the-spot fines of up to £80
- Use of fixed penalty notices
- Prosecution in a magistrates’ court
- Special powers to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour
- Charging the offender for the cost of removing the posters
Scotland has similar provisions under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. The only sanction is prosecution before a sheriff, who can impose a fine of up to £1000 and, if the offence is under the 1997 Act and continues after conviction, an additional fine of up to £100 per day.
Fly-posters can be prosecuted through the magistrates court using:
- Town and Country Planning Act
- Highways Act
- Anti-Social Behaviour Act
- Local Government Act
- Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 increases maximum fines from £1000 to £2500, with authorised council officials now able to issue £50 ‘on the spot’ fines.
Many authorities have by-laws making the venues (or the owners of the advertised event/product) responsible for any publicity bearing their name, punishable with fines.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 makes the business/event being advertised equally liable, unless they can demonstrate that the posters were being displayed without their knowledge or that they took reasonable steps to prevent their display.
Sponsored Advertising Boards
The regulations permit the display of advertisements announcing local events being held for charitable, but not for commercial, purposes subject to the following controls:
- No sign should exceed 0.6m2 in area
- The sign should be displayed no more than 28 days before the event and removed 14 days after
- The owner of the land on which the sign is displayed has given permission
It is common practice for estate agents to support local events, particularly school fetes, by providing and erecting sponsored signs. Regulations do not provide for these signs and their display is unauthorised.
However, we do not wish to discourage the advertising of local events and are prepared to tolerate sponsored signs subject to the following additional controls:
• The signs should not resemble the sign boards of the sponsoring company. The sponsor’s name and logo should be no larger or bolder than that used for announcing the local event and should occupy less than 20% of the sign’s area.
• Before sighting signs on the highway verge, you should seek consent from Bucks County Council as the local highway authority.
Displaying signs in contravention of the Advertisement Regulations is an offence which can be prosecuted in the Magistrate’s Court, even if it is later removed. The maximum fine on conviction is presently £2,500, with an additional daily fine of £250 for a continuing offence.
For further information please contact the AVDC Enforcement Team via the contact details below:
Tel: (01296) 585679