IAR banner falls foul of local planning regulations
Our bid to raise our profile in the run-up to Christmas has fallen foul of local advertising regulations in Tunbridge Wells.
Animal charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) was given consent by the GLN property company to erect a banner on the site of the old cinema in the centre of town, which the company owns. The site is already the subject of a planning appeal with the local council, and has stood empty for several years.
Now the charity has been told in no uncertain terms by the local planning office to get the banner taken down immediately – or be prosecuted.
IAR, based in Uckfield, had the banner made at cost price by Linkscreens Ltd in Hastings, and it was erected free of charge by local builder Ash Construction. The massive sign – 36’ x 5’ – calls on the public to support IAR’s work to rescue dancing bears in India. IAR’s campaign has recently featured in both local and national news reports, showing the barbaric illegal practice of ’dancing’ bears for tourists in India.
Says Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue: "It’s a great shame that, in the season of goodwill, when local businesses have been so generous with their time in order to support our charity, planning officers at the council are showing no Christmas spirit whatsoever. It’s hard enough to raise awareness of animal cruelty issues, and the offer of the cinema site was a great opportunity, now we are being threatened with legal proceedings and hefty costs if the Council steps in and removes the banner themselves. Obviously we will comply with the instruction, but we can only arrange to have the banner removed when the local firm can fit it in with their normal day’s work. We can’t afford to incur huge costs – and we’ve been told by the planners that they will be huge costs – if the council has it taken down."
Mr Knight adds: "It seems we are victims of an increase in illegal advertising in the town." Mr Bartlett told IAR that it is a big problem in the town, and IAR "has been caught in the crossfire. It’s a great pity though, that they can’t show a little flexibility for a small charity that is working for a really good cause. I’m sure most local people wouldn’t argue with that."