Town's new digital signs split opinion

New digital information boards are finally up and running in Berwick but their introduction has split opinion.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 07:35 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 20:00 pm
Electronic information board installed in Berwick

The boards, which cost £30,000, can be seen on Marygate and at the entrance to Castlegate car park.

They have been paid for with Portas funding at the instigation of community group Berwick Deserves Better (BDB), which is delighted with the positive comments received from many tourists.

The group hopes the boards will help to promote events in the town, especially since the relocation of the tourist information centre from Marygate to Walkergate.

Julie Riley, BDB secretary, said: “We are pleased to have facilitated something the public asked for with money allocated to the high street.

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“The group is particularly proud of Jen (McLean), who tirelessly worked to provide every detail for this project and to keep the project in line with our historical market town.”

However, there has also been criticism on social media about their appearance, with one resident remarking that they seem ‘more suited to the M25’.

Others complained that they were tacky and garish, while many felt they were a waste of money.

Cllr Georgina Hill, on her Facebook page, said: “They are neither informative or attractive – a monument to vanity, cronyism and stupidity.”

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BDB put in a bid for Portas funding after being inundated with comments from the public about lack of advertising in relation to town events.

The group researched some options and came across the digital notice boards in another historic market town (Oundle) that were in keeping with heritage designs. The boards have been so successful there, they hope for more.

Looking for public opinion, the group took to social media. On one post in Forgotten Berwick in July 2015, there were 101 comments with only one being against the proposal.

The group was happy to facilitate a bid for the boards and the treasurer, Jennifer Mclean, led the project from the onset.

With the Portas group in turmoil, BDB was against the clock but managed to get all information required for the bid to be approved, despite the county council’s decision to end the Berwick Portas project.

The next hurdle was to ask Berwick Town Council for help in the minor running costs year-on-year of the project, this amounts to £14 per month. This was approved.

The group was then able to set the wheels in motion, putting a huge amount of research into the project.

Northumberland County Council’s highways department offered to take on the technical part of siting and supply of the boards. BDB came to an agreement with Active Northumberland that tourist information would operate the boards in its time, not the town council’s.

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