More than 1,700 Bristol residents have signed Adblock Bristol’s petition to Mayor Marvin Rees calling for the removal of two giant illuminated advertising screens overlooking the M32 in Easton.
“Anyone who thinks these giant screens should remain can’t have the misfortune of living near them.”David, Easton
Today we presented the petition to the City Council, alongside several statements from Bristol residents describing how the screens impact their lives. The heartfelt statements, which can be read in full in the publicly available Council notes, describe how the billboards distract drivers, bring light pollution into homes, disturb wildlife and impose an unwanted commercial agenda into public space.
A statement submitted by local resident David Harper reads:
“Anyone who thinks these giant screens should remain can’t have the misfortune of living near them. They blight the view from my home, their light pollution is excessive. Their scale and visual intrusion violates the integrity of what is primarily a residential area.”
Easton resident Polly Whight also submitted a statement, saying:
“Prior to the screen I could see trees around the motorway which somewhat helped lessen the view of the road. Now these trees are completely taken over by the view of the digital screen.
“You would not see these types of screens in wealthier neighbourhoods like Clifton, yet they are inflicted on less well-off areas such as ours. This demonstrates to the community that the council do not care about the aesthetic of our area, how it affects us and our mental wellbeing.”
From this winter, Bristol City Council has an opportunity to remove the screens by issuing a discontinuance notice, if it considers the screens to have harmed the amenity of the locality or caused a danger to members of the public. If the Council does not take proactive action to remove the screens, they will remain in place.
Since they were erected in Easton, there is clear evidence that these two extraordinarily large screens have indeed injured both public safety and quality of life. In 2020, we collected 100 testimonials from local residents describing the multiple negative impacts caused to people living near the billboards and driving past. Now, with more than 1,700 signatures on the petition to take down the screens, we’ve asked the Mayor and Council to listen to the evidence and take action.
The petition notes the placement of the billboard in a community already impacted by the M32 motorway, and the feeling of local residents that brightly lit billboards of this size would not be put up in more affluent parts of the city; it also cites academic research showing that digital screens pose a substantial distraction for road users, especially younger drivers.
A statement by Charlotte Gage, who lives in Easton, reads:
“As a new driver I find the screens distracting and dangerous when I drive down the M32. As a mother who uses the path next to the screens regularly to access the shops with my 2 year-old, I am uncomfortable with the scale of the advertising she is exposed to and I object to the use of electricity and light pollution caused by the screens which contributes to the climate and ecological emergency that will impact on her and future generations.”
These two giant ad screens have been tried and tested, and it is now clear that they have real world consequences for the people who actually live near them, damaging residents’ quality of life on an everyday basis. Today we’ve asked the Mayor to hear the voices of more than 1700 people and take action to show that Bristol’s communities are more important than corporate profit. We are waiting for a response to the petition and statements – watch this space!
The petition is still open! Sign here: https://adfreecities.org.uk/screened-out/
In the press:
Bristol 247 – Petition to remove giant M32 billboards
Hits Radio – Bristol City Council urged to ditch M32 billboards