Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Cabinet Decision: 14th February 2008
Title of Item/Report
Street Lighting Advertising and Digital Display Units
Record of the Decision
Members considered a report that sought approval to introduce a policy of street lighting advertising and High Street digital display units to maximise revenue income for the Authority.

It was advised that street lighting energy costs had more than doubled in the last two financial years placing unprecedented pressures on the Council's revenue budgets. The energy charges for street lighting were now approximately 1m per annum.

At the Environment & Regeneration Select Committee meeting on 11 December 2006, a street lighting scrutiny report was approved with a number of recommendations for service improvement. One of the seven recommendations from the report was to place an advert in a national journal inviting expressions of interest from companies interested in entering into an agreement for the advertising rights on street lighting columns.

It was advised that street lighting advertising in the form of banner signs had increased in popularity in recent years. There was a growing market for banner-style advertising on street lighting columns. A prime factor in agreeing to this form of advertising was a financial one. It was explained that with significant budget pressures on the street lighting service because of inordinate increases in energy charges, there was a case for considering this as a revenue stream to ease the financial burden on the street lighting budgets.

Members were advised that an advert was placed in the Surveyor magazine in April 2007 asking for expressions of interest from companies wishing to negotiate an agreement to use approved facilities for advertising purposes and community messaging services. The agreement would provide appropriate safeguards for the Council and would allow for regulating the nature and content of advertising in accordance with national guidelines. Expressions of interest were received from ten companies. However, only two companies returned the completed pre-qualification questionnaires, the two companies were Streetbroadcast and JCDecaux. Both submissions were evaluated and scored with Streetbroadcast performing best. A decision was then taken to discount JCDecaux and invite Streetbroadcast to carry out a presentation to officers in July 2007. Following the presentation, Streetbroadcast agreed to carry out an additional survey to review the business viability and resubmit the potential revenue stream for the Council.

It was explained that Streetbroadcast were one of the UK's largest supplier of street lighting advertising services with over 3,000 advertising panels already installed in 80 towns and cites. They currently supplied advertisement services to 22 local authorities and some of the largest commercial property owners in the UK. It was noted that all costs incurred in delivering the street lighting advertising service were covered by Streetbroadcast. This included obtaining planning approvals, installation works through to advertising space sales and future site maintenance. They intended to work with the Council using a consultative approach, along with their expertise and experience to deliver the objectives required by the Council.

It was proposed to use two products within the Borough, namely; ‘StreetLites' and ‘Digital StreetLive'.

It was explained that ‘StreetLites' were strategically placed in high traffic areas and were considered to provide an enhancement to most urban environments. They held advertising industry standard posters, called a 6-sheet or a 4-sheet, one each side of a lighting column. These could be internally illuminated at agreed times of the day. The poster display was installed with a specifically designed lighting column to make up one complete product. The StreetLite had been designed to allow poster changing at ground level. This reduced the risk of accidents to the poster changer and to passing traffic and pedestrians. Posters were normally changed every two weeks. They were sold as a premium proposition and were highly demanded by both local and national advertisers. All unsold space was provided free to the council for its own community messaging use.

It was advised that the new street lights were specifically designed for the additional wind loading due to the rectangular banner sign. Any street lights removed were handed to the Council, free of charge, to be re-used in other locations in the Borough.

Digital StreetLive was a state of the art community messaging system which allowed various Council services and the Police instant communication with the local public on the street. The system could be used to stream news headlines, local weather, crime prevention messages, environmental messages, traffic and parking information, town events as well as emergency messages. Messages were input via a secure internet portal from any authorised desk or laptop computer.

It was advised that following a survey and detailed assessment the contractors originally identified potential sites for 75 ‘Streetlites' and 5 digital ‘Streetlive' units at various locations around the Borough. However, some of the "streetlites" were not considered to be in suitable areas. Members were advised that Streetlites would not be permitted:
• on residential streets
• in conservation areas
• on high speed roads (>40mph)

Members were advised of the types of location suitable.

It was noted that the installation of any proposed sites for street light advertising or digital streetlive would be subject to discussion at the Council's Urban Environment Task Group (UETG), ward member consultation and planning permission.

It was advised that the content of Street Lighting advertising would not display any advertising in the area that contained any of the following:

• party political advertising
• religious advertising
• tobacco advertising

It was also advised that the content would conform with the national regulatory body code of practice, namely the Advertising Standards Authority.

Members considered that it would be appropriate to include alcohol in the list of items that would not be advertised and discussed the possibility of amending the Council's overall advertising policy to reflect this.

RESOLVED that:-

1. A policy of supporting the use of illuminated advertising be agreed to allow:-
a) the use of on street digital display units, subject to normal planning processes, and;
b) to allow street light advertising, subject to normal planning processes, with the caveat that permission to use street light advertising will not be given;
• on residential streets
• in conservation areas
• on high speed roads (>40mph)

2. The Director of Law and Democracy be authorised to enter into the appropriate legal agreement.

3. The Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Transport, be authorised to determine the appropriateness of each site prior to a submission for planning approval.
Reasons for the Decision
1. The approval of street lighting advertising on the highway and Council land will generate vital income for the Authority to help offset rising energy costs.
2. A legal agreement is necessary to protect the Council's interests.
3. The control and appropriateness of advertising on the highway will be achieved through the planning process
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
None
Declared (Cabinet Member) Conflicts of Interest
None
Details of any Dispensations
Not Applicable
Date and Time by which Call In must be executed
By no later than midnight on Friday 22nd February 2008
Attachment

Date of Publication: 18 February 2008


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