Victory for Wanstead fencer as Waltham Forest Council cancels sign fine

Stephen Aldridge by the sign he was threatened with a fine over.

Stephen Aldridge by the sign he was threatened with a fine over.

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

An independent trader who was threatened with a fine of up to £2,500 for putting a small advert on a fence he erected has had it cancelled after his story featured in the Guardian.


Stephen Aldridge, 50, of Wanstead Fencing, was outraged after being sent a letter from Waltham Forest Council stating he had broken regulations for putting up the temporary notice outside a house in Bushwood, Leytonstone.
 

But the authority has now apologised and backed down on the grounds that Mr Aldridge did not know he was doing anything wrong.


He said: "I'm very pleased they cancelled it but this should never have happened in the first place.


"The advert had my phone number on it in big letters, all they had to do was call me and ask me to take it down.


"I'm sceptical that they cancelled the fine because I wasn't aware of the regulations - ignorance is not a defence in law.
 

"If that was the case then presumably anyone who got a fine from the council could get it cancelled by saying they didn't know.
 

"I think it's more because they were embarrassed by the bad publicity of their ridiculous fine so I'd like to thank the Guardian for highlighting it."


Mr Aldridge was initially asked to pay a £60 fine within 14 days, but was told it could rise to £2,500 if he failed to do so and the case came to court.
 

Under current regulations builders are allowed to install signs while work is going on, but must remove them when it is finished.


Mr Aldridge was also mid-way through the work and was waiting for the delivery of a gate to finish the job off.


Mr Aldridge added: "I still think these fines are just a cash-cow for the council, these fines exist to make them some extra money."


A council spokesman previously said: "There has not been a change of policy and as a contractor Mr Aldridge should be aware of the regulations...


"We know residents of Waltham Forest don’t want adverts plastered up all round the borough and we have to be fair in applying the law equally to all parties guilty of this practice."


But the letter from a council officer cancelling the fine said: “I'm prepared to accept that you were unaware that displaying the sign was an offence.”

Comments (7)

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5:21pm Mon 25 Feb 13

mdj says...

'But the authority has now apologised and backed down on the grounds that Mr Aldridge did not know he was doing anything wrong. '

If those are valid grounds, the Council's got an awful lot of parking tickets to pay back. In any case, the Council has to establish what regulation was broken.

'Bully backs down in the face of unwelcome publicity' might be a more accurate headline.
'But the authority has now apologised and backed down on the grounds that Mr Aldridge did not know he was doing anything wrong. ' If those are valid grounds, the Council's got an awful lot of parking tickets to pay back. In any case, the Council has to establish what regulation was broken. 'Bully backs down in the face of unwelcome publicity' might be a more accurate headline. mdj
  • Score: 0

6:14pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Tom Thumb says...

"We know residents of Waltham Forest don’t want adverts plastered up all round the borough"

That's funny. It was the council's idea to make money by putting up obstructive and ugly illuminated panels on pavements all over the borough, which are used to advertise junk food, the DVD of Skyfall, and sundry other delights.

The council also sells advertising attached to lamp posts.

The word for this is HYPOCRISY.
"We know residents of Waltham Forest don’t want adverts plastered up all round the borough" That's funny. It was the council's idea to make money by putting up obstructive and ugly illuminated panels on pavements all over the borough, which are used to advertise junk food, the DVD of Skyfall, and sundry other delights. The council also sells advertising attached to lamp posts. The word for this is HYPOCRISY. Tom Thumb
  • Score: 0

6:16pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Tom Thumb says...

I am also reminded of the case of the woman who put up a few signs on lamp posts asking if anyone had seen her lost cat and who was then prosecuted by the council for flyposting. Publicity in the Waltham Forest Guardian forced the council to back down in that case too.
I am also reminded of the case of the woman who put up a few signs on lamp posts asking if anyone had seen her lost cat and who was then prosecuted by the council for flyposting. Publicity in the Waltham Forest Guardian forced the council to back down in that case too. Tom Thumb
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

Poor guy has a little sign to help him work and not sponge off the dole and they come down like a ton of bricks when the Council have the massive eyesore big screen rubbish up the High Street.
Poor guy has a little sign to help him work and not sponge off the dole and they come down like a ton of bricks when the Council have the massive eyesore big screen rubbish up the High Street. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

10:07am Tue 26 Feb 13

mdj says...

This habit of public officials ducking in and out of anonymity needs to be questioned.
If they're elected representatives such as Mr Loakes, we shouldn't collude with this trick of gaming their web profile, in the hope that only popular initiatives appear when their name is searched. (It's far too late in his case, anyway: Google 'Clyde Loakes cardboard box', for example).

If they're salaried officials, they are paid to serve us in a specific post, and to take responsibility for their decisions in that post.
The fact that the municipal culture allows this ducking and diving tells us a lot about its maturity, and the willingness of its personnel to be held to account.
This habit of public officials ducking in and out of anonymity needs to be questioned. If they're elected representatives such as Mr Loakes, we shouldn't collude with this trick of gaming their web profile, in the hope that only popular initiatives appear when their name is searched. (It's far too late in his case, anyway: Google 'Clyde Loakes cardboard box', for example). If they're salaried officials, they are paid to serve us in a specific post, and to take responsibility for their decisions in that post. The fact that the municipal culture allows this ducking and diving tells us a lot about its maturity, and the willingness of its personnel to be held to account. mdj
  • Score: 0

12:04pm Tue 26 Feb 13

T. Watts says...

Hmm, if that fence is an example of his work, I think he's going to need a bigger sign than that - just to cover it up!

Let's face it, the sign looks tacky and ugly. If he wants to advertise then do it properly - and you don't have to spend a fortune - social media and good old-fashioned knocking on doors are both free.

My worry is that if he can get away with this horrible sign, so can many others. Soon every residential street in the area will look like a parade of Bangkok boarding houses.
Hmm, if that fence is an example of his work, I think he's going to need a bigger sign than that - just to cover it up! Let's face it, the sign looks tacky and ugly. If he wants to advertise then do it properly - and you don't have to spend a fortune - social media and good old-fashioned knocking on doors are both free. My worry is that if he can get away with this horrible sign, so can many others. Soon every residential street in the area will look like a parade of Bangkok boarding houses. T. Watts
  • Score: 0

5:54pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

T. Watts wrote:
Hmm, if that fence is an example of his work, I think he's going to need a bigger sign than that - just to cover it up!

Let's face it, the sign looks tacky and ugly. If he wants to advertise then do it properly - and you don't have to spend a fortune - social media and good old-fashioned knocking on doors are both free.

My worry is that if he can get away with this horrible sign, so can many others. Soon every residential street in the area will look like a parade of Bangkok boarding houses.
Why on earth would he want to go knocking on doors? Do you do that to get work, T Watts? I don't, and I suspect you don't either.

People who go door to door offering to do building work are very frequently conmen -- ask the police. It's a common trick to get into people's houses. So that's unlikely to get a good response, even if he had time and inclination to do it.

Both fence and sign look fine to me. The fence is evidence of his work, and that's why he's put a sign on it, to give his phone number to people who like what they see.
[quote][p][bold]T. Watts[/bold] wrote: Hmm, if that fence is an example of his work, I think he's going to need a bigger sign than that - just to cover it up! Let's face it, the sign looks tacky and ugly. If he wants to advertise then do it properly - and you don't have to spend a fortune - social media and good old-fashioned knocking on doors are both free. My worry is that if he can get away with this horrible sign, so can many others. Soon every residential street in the area will look like a parade of Bangkok boarding houses.[/p][/quote]Why on earth would he want to go knocking on doors? Do you do that to get work, T Watts? I don't, and I suspect you don't either. People who go door to door offering to do building work are very frequently conmen -- ask the police. It's a common trick to get into people's houses. So that's unlikely to get a good response, even if he had time and inclination to do it. Both fence and sign look fine to me. The fence is evidence of his work, and that's why he's put a sign on it, to give his phone number to people who like what they see. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

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