Bylaws will come into force next month which will allow Cork County Council to seize roadside advertising billboards on lorries and trailers.
The bylaws were adopted by councillors yesterday after a huge increase in the number of businesses using hoardings on the roadside, which the council deems hazardous by distracting motorists.
In a report on the bylaws, Tom Stritch, the council’s director of roads and transportation services, wrote that “these advertising vehicles, trailers are a distraction to motorists, especially near junctions and roundabouts and constitute traffic hazards and a danger to road users”.
Mr Stritch said they “also impact negatively on the environment”.
Under the new bylaws, the county council will be able to put a notice on an offending vehicle/trailer informing the owner they have 24 hours to remove it.
If that does not happen, council employees will then remove it and put it into storage for up to six weeks.
If the owner then claims their property, they will have to pay for its removal and storage.
If not the council can decide whether to auction it off if it has any value or, if not, destroy it.
The same bylaws also apply to people advertising cars for sale on roadsides, which has also become a problem in recent years.
Before placing a notice on the offending vehicle/trailer, the council may contact the owner advising them that it is being issued if they can trace them through a contact name or number on the hoarding.
However, the council does not have to do this and will not in cases where it is not immediately obvious who owns it.
The bylaws were drawn up by the council’s Roads and Transportation Special Purposes Committee (SPC).
Councillor John Paul O’Shea said he felt 24 hours’ notice was a bit short because the owner might not see the ‘remove notice’ during that time and he also wondered about the cost of removing and storing.
He was told that council officials believed this was a reasonable length of time for a warning period.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that cost of removing and storing would differ, depending on where it was and how big it was.
He said it would be up to council area engineers to decide on the final bill.
In some instances, the council will allow roadside advertising, but it will only apply if the owner applies to their local municipal district council for a permit.
The bylaws will not apply to signs erected in relation to elections and referenda, provided that they are removed within seven days of the poll.
The bylaws also indemnify the council against being sued for any damage which might occur when removing the vehicle or storing it.
Councillor Marcia D’Alton asked who would be responsible for enforcing the bylaws and was told by Mr Lucey that it would be the responsibility of the council’s area engineers.
Councillor Kevin Murphy said the bylaws were welcome, but added that while they covered the roadside, he was concerned that they didn’t cover private property.
The newly-elected mayor of Co Cork, Declan Hurley, told him that the council’s planning enforcement department was looking into ways of tackling the issues on private land.
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