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Agents for change – Council won’t ‘Let It’ be on board clutter

Letting and estate agents that break the law by leaving their boards up for longer than permitted have for many years detracted from the attractiveness of streets in the borough.

“Some roads can get cluttered with boards, and where there are blocks of flats there can sometimes be multiple boards on a single property,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

The clutter of boards is an issue residents regularly raise with the Council, and was the prompt for the crackdown instigated by the Council three years ago.

“We can issue estate and letting agents with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) and decided it was time to hit them hard,” explained Cllr Loakes. “We issued 826 FPNs in a single year, but realised that many of the larger agents were simply building the cost of the fines into their margins.

“Not only were they flouting the law, but they were flouting our enforcement measures as some sort of acceptable cost of gaining free advertising.”

The Council was not prepared to tolerate this flagrant contempt for the law and called upon central Government to extend their powers to combat the situation. In the build up to the Olympics, they applied to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for consent to withdraw the right to display boards relating to the sale or letting of property along a number of its main roads.

Permission was granted for a year and Waltham Forest became just one of a handful of boroughs to be granted consent in neighbourhoods not deemed to be areas of special architectural interest.

Last month a request to re-implement the ban was approved for five years, with the restrictions applying to High Road Leytonstone, High Road Leyton, Hoe Street, Lea Bridge Road (east of Orient Way), Forest Road and Crownfield Road.

The Government response noted that, ‘there has been widespread compliance with a previous Direction that has resulted in a positive effect on visual amenity.’

“We’re not going to just lie down and let people – businesses or individuals – simply rubbish our borough,” explained Cllr Loakes. “Clearing up our high streets of mess and clutter is a key priority for the Council and where we find resistance we will not just let it be – we will fight back using all the tools at our disposal. And even access more if we have to.”

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