Above: Resident holds ‘Skip Ad’ placard at JCDecaux billboard Totterdown (Photo: Carla Denyer)
On Saturday 18th July 2020, Adblock Bristol and local residents staged a community demonstration and stunt to protest against two huge digital advertising screens being erected on Bath Road, Totterdown.
A Bristol City Council planning committee refused permission for one screen and imposed restrictions on the other. However, the multi-billion Euro global advertising giant JCDecaux have now appealed this decision, sending a belligerent and bullying letter to the Planning Inspector.
Update September 2020: the Planning Inspector upheld JCDecaux’s appeal meaning the Council’s decision has been overturned and the two digital ad screens were granted permission. Update November 2021: the digital ad screens are now built.
South Bristol resident Nicola Round, member of Adblock Bristol, submitted the group’s own response to the Planning Inspector. She explains,
“67 people including local residents and councillors objected to the huge new digital advertising screens, raising concerns about local amenity, road safety, wildlife and climate impacts. 152 new homes are also currently being built directly opposite the site and we know these people will be seriously impacted by the screens.”
“Yet JCDecaux want both screens approved and the conditions dropped. In their statement to the Planning Inspector they make no mention of the local opposition to their plans. They seem happy to ignore the views of local residents because these screens are hugely profitable for them, displaying six ads per minute with a changing image that draws the eye of motorists.”
The stunt involved a temporary post-it note style banner being dropped over the billboard that read:
The protestors hope to catch the attention of the Planning Inspectorate who is due to make a decision about the appeal next month.
Barney Smith from nearby Windmill Hill said,
“We do not think that JCDecaux should be able to impose their billboards on Bristol. We want to let the voices of the people who actually live here be heard for once.”
He goes on,
“The energy-intensive digital ad screens which push new cars, fast fashion and junk food are bad for our local environment, our mental health and the climate. They are ugly intrusions into the local landscape and are even more dominating than the old ones.
“Residents shouldn’t have to fire-fight these applications for digital advertising screens on a case-by-case basis. Bristol Council has acknowledged public opposition to large digital advertising screens and successfully opposes the majority of new applications. We thank them for this, but so much time is spent fighting each one. The council should deal with this issue at a policy level. We’re calling for Bristol to lead the way with a city-wide policy against new corporate billboards.”
The demonstration, which took place at 164-188 Bath Road Totterdown at 11am on Saturday 18th July, complied with current guidance on social distancing.
Photos courtesy of Tommy Chavannes and Carla Denyer.