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South Lanarkshire Propose Banning Election Materials On Public Property
A ban on activists decking out public property with party propaganda is set to come into force before the General Election.
South Lanarkshire Council are meeting next Monday to discuss the issue and it is proposed that a ban will be put into place with “immediate effect”.
During the independence referendum, the area was awash with Yes Scotland and Better Together propaganda. But that will no longer be the case if council chiefs get their way.
A paper going before a special meeting of the local authority’s Executive Committee says: “The purpose of the report is to amend the current policy on the display of election/referendum campaign materials to no longer permit the fixing of campaign materials to items of street furniture under the council’s control, such as lighting columns and directional signs etc for all future elections/referenda.”
The council already have guidelines for displaying campaign material on public property, to ensure both the safety of the public and people engaged in putting up and taking down the materials. Officials can’t prevent people putting campaign materials up on private property.
In the report, which will be given to councillors, it states: “The display of campaign materials in or around the times of elections/referenda could be seen as a method of raising awareness for electoral events, however, feedback received has not identified the display of campaign materials as a successful method of raising awareness.
“Legislation has, in recent years, introduced a responsibility for both the Electoral Commission and local returning/counting officers to raise awareness of electoral events. This has been done by publishing notices in public facing council offices, using the council’s website and other social media, producing household leaflets, arranging specific awareness campaigns for hard to reach groups, etc.
“In recent years there has been an increase in the number of complaints received from members of the public about election/referenda campaign materials.”
The council have received feedback and complaints about election materials, with the report adding: “This resulted in a cost to the council in terms of time and resources. The cost for removing campaign materials is, where possible, recharged to the relevant party/agent, however, the time in dealing with complaints cannot be recharged.”
Only six Scottish councils, including South Lanarkshire, still allow the display of campaign materials on local authority property. If councillors decide on Monday to ban campaign materials, it will bring the local authority into line with the majority of the country’s 32 councils.