Renewed anger over boards

2018-07-26 18:10
The newly erected billboards in Hilton Avenue have caused outrage among Hilton residents who say the billboards are an ‘eyesore’.

The newly erected billboards in Hilton Avenue have caused outrage among Hilton residents who say the billboards are an ‘eyesore’.

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Hilton residents’ outrage over newly erected billboards in the town reached boiling point when locals found the trees surrounding the boards being chopped down on Wednesday.

Read: Billboards spark anger

On a Facebook group, Hilton Chat, resident Kate Warr said she had found a company “hacking” a tree near one of the billboards.

She said when she asked why the trees were being chopped down, she was told that “they had been given directions from an advertising company in Johannesburg — they wanted our trees ‘pruned’ so that the billboard can be properly seen”.

In October 2016, the uMngeni Municipality council approved the proposal to erect billboards in Merrivale and Hilton.

Unhappy Hiltonians then started a petition in a bid to reverse the approval, garnering 276 signatures.

However, the petition was unsuccessful and on July 13, residents were shocked to see that two billboards had been erected in Hilton Avenue.

Residents have said the boards are “an eyesore” and obstruct the view of the road for motorists.

According to council meeting documents from 2016, the resolution to approve the signs stemmed from the reasoning that “there are no significant views in either direction” and that it would not affect oncoming traffic.

Hilton resident Cheryl Louise Huber posted on the Facebook group: “Really? How can they cut down our trees? Can we cut down their signs?”

Another local, Chris Wantenaar, posted: “I love how a company in Johannesburg gets to decide that our trees get to be cut down.”

Another resident, Candice Coleman Cooper, asked: “Shouldn’t a complaint also be laid at the Road Traffic Inspectorate as [they] obstruct drivers’ views and attention?”

Hiltonian Deidre Rautenbach, however, called for calm among residents and asked that they be civil with the advertising companies that would be using the billboards.

“The problem is not the company’s; they are within their rights and got permission from the municipality,” she said.

“Explain that they are obstructing views of intersections and are hazardous as it is distracting. The more complaints they are getting, the more they will pay attention as it reflects badly on them.”

Robert Raine, who is the KwaZulu-Natal branch manager for the advertising company JC Decaux, said he had already received multiple calls from disgruntled residents by midday on Wednesday.

Raine said the company did want to resolve the issue and that it had already been reported to head office. “But it will not be something that happens overnight as there is a lot more at play.”

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga did not respond to media queries at the time of going to print on Wednesday.


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