Suffolk 'can't afford' to repair or clear 700 damaged road signs

Overgrown road sign

Overgrown road signs have been a problem in Suffolk for many years. - Credit: Archant

More than 700 road signs across Suffolk have been damaged or obscured - and the county council does not have enough money to repair or clear them all.

The council has come under fire from motorists and residents over the state of its signs across the county - but cabinet member Paul West said it could not afford to undertake all the work needed.

Paul West

Paul West said there was only limited money for road sign repairs. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

He said: "Like all council departments our budget is limited and we have to be careful how we spend our money. That means we are able to maintain the mandatory signs that affect road safety - but are not able to repair or clear all the direction signs.

"All council departments have to watch what they spend their money on - it is not just road signs. There are many other pressures on our spending as people are aware, like fixing potholes and resurfacing roads."

In early September the council had a running total of 700 signs waiting to be repaired or cleared. Since then more reports had been coming in, and the numbers were continuing to rise.

Suffolk County Council has faced a long battle against vegetation over-running its signs with frequent complaints by motorists.

But now there have also been reports of signs falling over because they have rusted.

Andrew Stringer

Andrew Stringer said road signs that were not needed should be removed if they were damaged or obscured. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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County Council opposition leader and Green Party councillor Andrew Stringer said the current situation was disgraceful: "At the last election we said there should be a good look at all the road signs and decide which were needed and which were not.

"If a sign has been left broken and hasn't been repaired because it's not important then it should be removed and not left littering the countryside.

"What message does this give to tourists who are visiting Suffolk for the first time."

Mr Stringer said one community had had a unique way of dealing with a broken road sign: "There was one parish council which contacted the county council about a broken road sign and was told that it could not afford to repair it.

"So they reported it as fly-tipped rubbish whose owner would not dispose of it. Someone came out very quickly to take it away!"

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