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Street signs 'spoiling UK towns'

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Councils have been urged to get rid of unnecessary signs, railings and advertising hoardings in a bid to restore the individual character of towns and cities across the UK.

The Government has asked councils to consider reducing street clutter to make urban areas more open and easier on the eye.

In some cases preventing excessive sign use has also been proved to reduce the number of accidents on urban roads as drivers are less distracted. Car insurance companies have backed the schemes after the removal of street clutter from Kensington High Street in west London was shown to have reduced accidents by up to 47%.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond have written to council leaders calling on them to reduce the number of signs and other "street clutter".

The Government believes that in some cases traffic signs and railings are installed by councils in the mistaken belief that they are legally required. However, although some signs are required by law, Government advice is that for signs to be most effective they should be kept to a minimum.

To help councils do this the Department for Transport is reviewing traffic signs policy and new advice on how to reduce clutter will be published later this year.

The Department for Transport said that, for example, the cathedral city of Salisbury in Wiltshire was littered with bollards, with a parking area for 53 cars having 63 bollards.

© Press Association 2010