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The government must publish the results of its consultation on deregulating tourist signs before pressing ahead wit...
The government must publish the results of its consultation on deregulating tourist signs before pressing ahead with the scheme, the Association of County Councils said today.

The association fears the government will ignore the widespread opposition to deregulating the signs revealed by the consultation exercise. Tourist boards, local authorities, road safety experts and other organisations all oppose the move.

More than 200,000 new signs could spring up in beauty spots if more businesses are allowed to have their own signs, warned the ACC. Shops, pubs, restaurants and even cinemas could all get signs. Many sites of dubious significance could get a sign, leading to dissatisfaction among tourists who view them as an official stamp of approval.

And local authorities would have little power to veto the signs because the government proposals limit their ability to oppose applications, while presuming most applications will be approved.

Under current regulations any organisation applying for a sign has to meet strict criteria for the quality of the attraction and the facilities on offer. Under the proposals put forward by the government, however, the definition of what constitutes a tourist destination would be widened, effectively scrapping those controls.

ACC environment committee chairman Derek Bateman said: 'The government seems obsessed with deregulating tourist signs even though it means an explosion of signs blotting the landscape. Worse still, it seems ready to do this without publishing the results of its own consultation exercise. How can the public be expected to reach an informed view about government proposals if it withholds the evidence from them? The government must publish the evidence and let the public reach its conclusions.'

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