Cluttered roadsides are to be cleaned up by local councils, with new powers to remove excess road signs

Local councils have been given new powers that allow them to remove roadside signage.

The scheme comes from a Department for Transport initiative to declutter Britain’s roadsides, which labelled some of the estimated 4.57million-plus roadside signs as "unnecessary" and "pointless".

The Department for Transport is to be abolished, read more here

The RAC has criticised certain aims of the scheme, such as the targeting of speed limit repeater signs for removal now that they are no longer a legal requirement.

Others signposted for removal are those which signify new road features. Instead they will be given ‘remove by’ dates ensuring they are not displayed for longer than necessary.

The DfT claims that the scheme will save taxpayers £30 million by 2020. Energy wastage will also be reduced, because safety signs are legally required to be illuminated. A spokesperson from the DfT was quick to add that it's not a mandatory change, but an optional one. 

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Critics of the proposal

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) questioned the logic of some of the proposals, saying: “We’re in overall support of what the Department for Transport is trying to do; there are far too many signs that have been left for too long, well after drivers have got the message about a road layout change.”

“Other aspects are about getting the balance right – a lot of signage is in place for the safety of drivers – which must be put first. Removing safety-conscious signage in the name of decluttering the roadside in road accident blackspots, should not happen - we’re very keen that safety-vital signage isn’t removed in the name of clutter.”

“The most contentious area is the removal of repeater speed limit signs. Drivers often do need to be reminded of the speed limit, particularly if the government is to be enforcing the limit more closely. Removing signage may make some drivers feel underinformed of the speed limit or even misled, if the signage of the speed limit isn’t enough.”

Join the debate


19 April 2016
Removal of repeater signs! Now I do feel as if there is a conspiracy to fine all motorists. Please confirm that this does not apply to 40 and more repeaters in street lit areas. It's bad enough that there are 20 zones that hide a sign at the beginning and then nothing within the zone.

There certainly is too much Road sign clutter, made worse by the installation last year of advertising signs on roundabouts. Done by the council and claimed as sponsorship to help the running cost of maintaining the roundabouts and their grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees.

There are also badly placed Road signs such as speed limits so close to junctions and high up so they are far too easily missed.

19 April 2016
I was in Stoke the other day and there were signs on the lamposts telling you how wonderful the council is.

19 April 2016
Forget safety, the only thing that matters to the current government is short term money saving, notwithstanding their consistent failure to achieve their own economic targets.


19 April 2016
"Unnecessary" and "pointless" bi-lingual English/Gaelic roadsigns are proliferating, for the benefit of the exactly zero percent of the population who can read Gaelic, but not English....

19 April 2016
They are useful and given how small they are, hardly clutter. In fact I'd argue for more of them, there are many times when you're driving along, particularly after joining a road, and wonder what the limit is. Dual language signs on the other hand can go the way of the Dodo - at least for safety signs, not so worried about place names, information signs etc.


19 April 2016
Hmmmm, I think this same announcement was made about 6/7 years ago, with no noticeable change as yet!
I disagree with the IAM in the case of depleting signage at accident blackspots...has anyone considered that sign proliferation at such a spot is possibly information overload at the exact time when drivers need to be 100% attentive?
In the old days there used to be a sign which simply stated 'Accident Blackspot'.....simple, to the point, and probably its starkness is all that is needed. Back to the Future?
Councils seem to be increasingly profligate with OUR taxes these days....totally unnecessary and very expensive enormous signs announcing that you are entering a County Council's area are just ridiculous....who gives a shit about a council area?
A friend of mine is in the roadside furniture industry, so I know what these cost, and it aint cheap!.....and yet they cant afford repair the road, to trim foliage away from half hidden road signs or clean them. Some in my area haven't been cleaned in the last 10 years and aren't even remotely 'reflective' any more.
Maybe its time that the councils SHOULD become truly accountable for their spending. One things for sure, if they had to dip into their own pockets for the funding, these eyesores wouldn't exist.
Lastly repeater speed limit signs.....I have never understood why a 40 or 50 mph zone gets repeaters, but a 30mph (which presumably is a more dangerous zone) doesn't. Could it be an opportunity to make money in fines taking precedent over locals safety?
Hiding behind some ancient and ridiculous law about the distance between light posts is just madness in a sensitive and potentially fatal area, and how does a driver maintain concentration and measure that distance as he drives by....honestly you couldn't make it up, its like the clowns are in town!
In my view 30mph repeaters should be painted onto the tarmac every 300 yards, and maybe red reflector studs.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week