DEACTIVATED: Why we’re painting over illegal ads in Bristol

Have you noticed that fences, temporary hoardings, the cycle path and even shop walls in Bristol have developed a kind of corporate rash? Ads for Netflix, make-up brands and other global corps have been springing up in all sorts of places – but many of the smaller ads around town have absolutely no legal right to be there

To be clear, we don’t want ANY advertising. At all, no thanks. But when ads don’t even have permission, that really makes us mad. So we’ve set up a deactivation team to paint over ads that are there illegally, and we’ve been enjoying getting creative as we paint over unwanted big brand messaging.

Above: before and after on Sheene Road, Bedminster

Which ads are illegal?

If advertisements haven’t applied for planning permission, they shouldn’t be there – with some small exceptions, such as inside shopping centres or in sports stadiums. Adblock Bristol monitors all new planning applications for billboards and advertising sites, big and small. So we know that *all* the smaller ads (see pictured), put up largely by companies Build Hollywood and Out Of Hand, have not applied for permission. 

If you want to get into the regulations, the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (yes that’s 2007, a whole other problem) are here. See Schedule 1 for ads that are exempt from planning permission determined in (1) and (2). 

Safe to say, any ads nailed to walls or temporary fences in Bristol are not legally permitted. We’re pretty sure the ad companies are even putting up fences deliberately, so they can nail ad frames into them and rake in cash without paying Business Tax. 

What is the council doing?

It’s completely fair that with a lot on their plate and no cash thanks to Tory rule, Bristol council isn’t able to stop cowboy advertisers. So we’re painting over as many as possible to make it unprofitable for the ad companies and embarrassing for the brands they’re promoting. 

Get in touch to join us on our next outing, or grab some leftover paint, paint rollers and brushes and get out there!

We’re looking for a new campaign coordinator for Adblock Bristol, to keep us organised and think up new ideas for adblocking! Interested? Find out more and apply before September 4th, and please share widely with your networks.

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