MARKETING: IOM Must Remove Illegal Billboards
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The Western Cape High Court has recently ruled in favour of the City of Cape Town in the case against the signage company, Independent Outdoor Media (IOM), concerning the illegal erection of billboards.
The judge found in favour of the City on all counts and ordered the removal of all nine billboards within 14 days. The Sheriff of the Court has been authorised to remove the signs if IOM fails to do so, with IOM being liable for the cost of removal. The judge also ruled that IOM is liable for the cost of the City’s senior counsel and specialist traffic consultant.
The judgment was made following the City’s application for an interdict in June 2009 because the billboards had been erected on buildings in contravention of the City’s Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-Law. Some of the signs were erected over a decade ago and IOM has failed to comply with numerous notices served on them calling for the removal of the signs. The owners of the properties where the signs were erected also failed to adhere to the City’s notices. The City, having pursued all other avenues, was forced to approach the High Court to enforce the Signage By-law.
The billboards were in Somerset West, Sir Lowry Road, the Main Road in Rondebosch, Buitensingel, Nelson Mandela Boulevard, the N2, New Church Street and Kloof Street. They promote liquor, fast food outlets, financial institutions and, in one instance, even the signage company itself. The billboards are substantial, as much as 54 square metres in area and others up to twelve metres long. The Court held in respect of some signs, that in addition to contravening the City’s Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-law, they also contravene the National Building Regulations, the Roads Ordinance, and the City’s zoning regulations.
The signage industry in Cape Town is extremely profitable. Outlays are minimal, and a single sign can earn the signage company in excess of R20 000 per month. If left unchecked, the proliferation of such signs is thus inevitable and the consequence will be a degradation of the aesthetics of our environment – all without any tangible advantage or benefit for the residents of Cape Town.
The City says it wishes to emphasise that it is not opposed in principle to all outdoor signage. Accordingly, the Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-law seeks to establish a balance between outdoor advertising opportunities and economic development on the one hand and the promotion and protection of visual, tourist, traffic safety, environmental and heritage interests on the other.
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