Council sought Garda assistance for sandwich board ‘blitz’

Crackdown on unlicensed advertising boards begins next week

From September 1st, city businesses will have to pay an annual licence fee of €630 to erect sandwich boards outside their premises. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

From September 1st, city businesses will have to pay an annual licence fee of €630 to erect sandwich boards outside their premises. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Gardaí agreed to support a Dublin City Council “blitz” on unauthorised sandwich boards on the city’s streets, minutes of an internal council meeting show.

From September 1st, city businesses will have to pay an annual licence fee of €630 to erect sandwich boards outside their premises. However, the advertising boards will be banned completely outside protected structures, such as Georgian buildings, and in 23 architectural conservation areas (ACAs).

O’Connell Street, Grafton Street, Capel Street, Dawson Street and the area between Grafton Street and South Great George’s Street are all within ACAs. Suburban areas including Phibsborough, Sandymount and Ranelagh are also covered by the designation.

Cafes and restaurants are already liable for licence fees for putting tables and chairs outside their premises, but to date there has been no licensing system for sandwich boards, also known as “A-frame signage”.

Council chief executive Owen Keegan previously said he planned a crackdown on businesses that “carpet” the public footpath with unlicensed advertising placards as the public realm in the city centre had become increasingly “littered” with sandwich boards which had no permission to be on the street.

Approach to gardaí

Since then the council has been developing a policy for dealing with sandwich boards. Minutes of a meeting between its transformation unit and planning enforcement section, at which licensing procedures for sandwich boards were being devised last summer, show an approach had been made to gardaí to support the enforcement of the new rules.

To even contemplate using scarce Garda resources for this cosmetic exercise, when there is open drug dealing on our streets, is outrageous

“Gardaí from Pearse Street (licensing and Events/Traffic Units) have indicated to [a named official] they would provide support to DCC staff during an enforcement campaign. Joint planning meeting to be held before commencement of blitz when DCC plans are drawn up,” the minute reads.

Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said the idea that gardaí would ever have been involved was ridiculous.

“To even contemplate using scarce Garda resources for this cosmetic exercise, when there is open drug dealing on our streets, is outrageous,” he said.

“The whole way this licensing system has been approached has been in very poor form, the RAI has not been consulted in any of this, when we are members of the council’s business forum. This is not the way to do businesses, it causes animosity and bad blood.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the “newly-formed ad-boards unit” which will be enforcing the licensing system has had “no conversations with the gardaí”, and there were currently no plans to seek Garda assistance in enforcement.