Video: Council says ‘no’ to Heathfield Show signs

Families living in Rother could find it difficult to check out details of the forthcoming Heathfield Show, one of the top agricultural shows and rural attractions in the South East.

The reason is that Rother District Council have decided show organisers can no longer place their boards in hedgerows as they consider it is a contravention of planning rules.

signboard - organiser Nicola McGill is bringing one to stick in a hedge. The show has been told they can't put boards up in Rother due to planning regs

signboard - organiser Nicola McGill is bringing one to stick in a hedge. The show has been told they can't put boards up in Rother due to planning regs

Show secretary Nicola Magill told the Express: “The boards are sponsored by Freeman Forman and have become synonymous with the Show.

“Every year the Heathfield and Waldron Rugby Club do a sterling job putting them up throughout Wealden and Rother. They usually go up during the first Bank Holiday weekend in May and are taken down immediately after the show, so they stay within the 30 day rule.”

So this year, Nicola explains, organisers will rely on other forms of advertising in Rother, including trailer boards.

She said: “If anyone has roadside frontage where we can place a trailer for four weeks during May, particularly on major roads, could you please contact me on: 01435 864578.”

Rother’s head of planning, Tim Hickling said: “We haven’t definitively said ‘no’ to signs being put up in hedgerows to promote the Heathfield Show. We are actually happy for the signs to go up, providing they meet certain criteria, and we would like to talk to the show organisers about this.

“We have no issue with signs promoting a community event, but it has been noted some of the signs put up last year were also being used to advertise companies as well.

“Commercial advertisements breach planning restrictions if posted without specific consent.

“As long as the signs only relate to the Heathfield Show, don’t contain commercial advertising, and meet other rules around size, timing and having the permission of the landowner, we have no problem with them.”

Nicola said: “We know about this ruling but believe Rother have kindly turned a blind eye to it for the last 13 years when we have been allowed to put up our signs as usual.

“We quite understand their reasons - they say schools and organisations are using boards all over the place causing a proliferation, and if you allow one then you have got to allow them all. But this is a real community event, supported by Scouts and youth groups, and raises money to go back to them.

“We just hope people right across the county get to hear about us and come along.”