Bid to halt restrictions on election posters

A row has broken out over a possible ban on election posters being displayed on public property.

The move by Argyll and Bute Council was passed by a single vote at a committee meeting last week and will now go before this Thursday’s full council meeting.

But a ‘community campaign group’  has sent a press release to community councils looking for their support in opposing the plan, saying the public was not given time to comment and councillors did not have the chance to explore alternatives.

A council report states: “Following the recent referendum there were a number of locations where campaign material was left in place well beyond the referendum.

“There were also instances were material had been displayed immediately outside or close to polling stations. In these situations the material had to be removed.”

Councillors are asked to endorse the new policy, which has been introduced by several other authorities in recent months.

It would see campaign material attached to council property – which includes lamp-posts – removed, with the council trying to recover the cost of this from those responsible.

But the ‘community campaign group’ cite comments from the Electoral Commission, two SNP MSPs and an SNP councillor in opposing the change.

They say it is unnecessary, anti-democratic and would even increase costs for candidates, who would be ‘forced’ to spend money on advertising instead.

“Election posters do not cause inconvenience or offence to the public,” says the statement.

“On the contrary, they help raise awareness about elections, which is only to be encouraged in light of poor voter turnout.

“The blanket ban is disproportionate given the level of perceived inconvenience, cost or offence election posters cause.

“Currently, parties or candidates can choose to display posters or not. However, some clearly fear being disadvantaged if they don’t do this.

“This policy will serve those parties and candidates who don’t wish to go to the effort of displaying posters, and who wish to avoid any disadvantage by preventing anyone else from doing so, either.”

PDFs of the council agenda sport and the opposing statement can be downloaded here: ELECTION POSTERS  Press Release | Community campaign group oppose Argyl & Bute policy to ban election posters

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