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Gillingham Town Council has urged rival estate agents to stop what it calls the ‘senseless competition’ between them to put up as many For Sale or Sold signs as possible. The council has written to agents in the town asking them to respect the rules and regulations on the location of signboards around the town following complaints from local residents.

In a letter to the local businesses the council said: ‘Gillingham Town Council has received numerous complaints from members of the public about the number of estate agent ‘For Sale’/ ‘Sold’ signboards that have appeared throughout the town on the highway verges with no apparent regard to the safety of pedestrians and other highway users.’

It warned the agencies that under Dorset Highways Policy on unauthorised signs, ‘any “For Sale” signboards would be removed from the highways by either DCC or GTC personnel’ and then stored for the company to collect within seven working days.
It concluded: ‘We trust that the senseless competition between some estate agents of trying to display as many “For Sale”/”Sold” signboards as possible will cease immediately before further complaints or an accident occurs.’

Since those letters went out, those boards that were on council land or potentially affecting the highways in the town have been taken down. But at a recent Gillingham Town Council planning meeting the committee chairman Councillor David Walsh said: ‘Despite a letter being sent to all the estate agents in the town a minority are continuing to abuse the system and therefore the matter is now being dealt with by the planning enforcement officer at the District Council.’

The council has also received complaints about this new ‘abuse’, which concerns signs displayed on properties which are not the actual properties for sale they are referring to. Instead they have arrows on them or an extra sign indicating the number and street of a nearby property that is being sold.

These cases have now been referred to North Dorset District Council’s Senior Planning Enforcement Officer Mark Hitchcott to investigate. The Gillingham Council said: ‘Mark Hitchcott has advised us that if they are displayed on land which is not part of the property being sold, they are not lawfully displayed.’

Mr Hitchcott told Gillingham News: ‘Currently I have only found two breaches of the regulations from the information that has been provided but one of those is not considered harmful to the amenity of the area. The other I will be writing to the estate agent in question and asking them to rectify.’
It is understood that the estate agent concerned is Connells, whose office is in the High Street.

Branch manager Samuel Paterson said he had not received a letter from the enforcement officer and defended his policy of using one For Sale sign on a home to promote another nearby property. ‘You cannot erect a board on a property that’s not for sale unless you have confirmation from that vendor. I have confirmation from all parties involved that I am erecting boards,’ he said.

‘I’m doing everything within the law. We are advertising our company in a way that is making us have market share.’

He gave an example of what they do with the signs with the agreement of the initial vendor: ‘It’s on their land and it has on it the number of what property is for sale. It has the number 39 even though it is on number 4’s land. It has the number 39 therefore it is legal.’

He added: ‘If it’s not the council’s land, it’s not their business, is it?’

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