Charity sign row

Margaret Fiddes with the sign to advertise the Christmas bazaar, that has been taken down by highways officers. (p602a246)

Margaret Fiddes with the sign to advertise the Christmas bazaar, that has been taken down by highways officers. (p602a246)

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A BANNER for a church charity event in Fairburn has sparked a row with highways officers who have claimed it was illegal.

Parishioner Margaret Fiddes, who had put up the sign to advertise a Christmas bazaar on November 24 as part of a £25,000 fundraising drive at St James’ Church in Fairburn, said she checked it was within the rules before putting it up two weeks ago.

However, within days of it going up on the Old Great North Road near Fairburn Community Centre, where the event is taking place, the sign had disappeared.

Margaret said: “I checked the website, which says banners for charity events can be put up by the roadside a month in advance, so I didn’t think there’d be a problem.

“When it disappeared I rang both Selby District and North Yorkshire County Councils and both said they couldn’t see there being a problem with the sign and they would have to contact me in advance before removing it.

“However, the next day I got a phone call from a highways officer who said he’d seen the sign and removed it because it was causing a distraction to motorists. I explained it was a fundraising event but that didn’t hold sway at all, he was immovable.”

St James’ Church has just launched the appeal to install a toilet and kitchen facilities.

Margaret added: “He said we can put the sign up outside the centre, but it’s set well back off the road so you’d need binoculars to see it, and I’m afraid we won’t get the passing trade.”

A North Yorkshire County Council spokeswoman said: “We are sympathetic to this fundraising event, but Ms Fiddes should have contacted us before she put the banner up. It is illegal under the Highways Act to put up a temporary sign anywhere on the highway, including the verge.

“As the banner did not have contact details on it, we could not let Ms Fiddes know about the action we were taking. However, we did not take it away and left it safely at the premises. We are always ready to help and advise when people want to advertise community events and one of our officers did speak to her after the sign was taken down.”

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