Council grants itself permission for controversial sign – six months after it was installed

Leam Lane advertising sign
Leam Lane advertising sign

A controversial advertising sign on a busy South Tyneside road has finally been granted permission to operate - six months after it was first switched on.

The 10ft by 20ft sign was installed on the A194 Leam Lane, Jarrow, last October, sparking a flurry of complaints and debate.

Coun Lee Hughes

Coun Lee Hughes

Critics - including Bede Councillor Lee Hughes - said the sign was too bright, a distraction to drivers, and branded it “an accident waiting to happen”.

They and also demanded the council reveal how much the structure cost and how much revenue was being gained.

South Tyneside Council, however, said it would generate much-needed revenue for the borough’s coffers – though it appears planning consent to advertise was not granted for the sign at the time it was switched on.

It has also refused to reveal any financial details about the display, which has been installed with project partner Kong, due to “commercial sensitivity”.

On Tuesday, planning officers finally granted the sign retrospective consent, with conditions, to advertise after the original application was submitted on October 26.

It is understood the hold up was due to permanent safety barriers having to be installed at the site.

A council spokeswoman said: “The notice for the retrospective consent to advertise was formally granted by the planning department on April 25 for the Leam Lane sign.

“A condition of this was the installation of the permanent safety barriers. Following the removal of the temporary barriers and the completion of the permanent safety barriers, consent has been granted.”

Coun Hughes, of the Putting People First Party, has branded the project and time-scale as ridiculous.

He said: “Six months on a sign, which has been in use for ages, finally gets retrospective consent to advertise.

“They still won’t say how much revenue this monstrosity is generating, I don’t understand why it’s such a secret.

“I’ve never known anything like it.

“You’d think they’d have all the permission boxes ticked before they went ahead with installing a giant sign, which everyone has to see as they enter and leave South Tyneside, but no.”

“I still stand by my original opinion. It’s a mess and it’s very distracting for drivers.”

As part of the consent being granted the display is also bound by other conditions.

These include that the sign will only be in place for the next five years.

Plus the minimum display time for each digital advertisement image shall be no less than 10 seconds and all advertisement images shall be static - which means no special effects, flashing, or smoke.

The change interval between advertisement images shall be 0.2 seconds, the complete screen shall change and the screen shall include a mechanism to turn off in the event of a malfunction.