SIC removes Hill’s placards after he refuses
Political campaigner Stuart Hill has run into trouble with Shetland Islands Council after placing a number of election placards on lampposts.
The signs, which Mr Hill put up prior to the general election, were removed by the SIC this week after the authority said he had failed to take them down himself. It is understood that he will be sent a bill for the cost of the removal.
The placards, placed in both Lerwick and Scalloway and bearing the wording “MP? No Thanx”, encouraged people to spoil their general election ballot papers as a protest vote.
The council told him he would have to take the placards down as they were not allowed under Section 59 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
Political signs have been an issue recently with some people complaining about the number erected by parties, particularly the SNP, in the run-up to the Shetland by-election to the Scottish Parliament in August.
Mr Hill said: “[The council] said that if I didn’t remove them, they would do so and charge me for the privilege.
“When I checked the legislation, I found it applies to obstructions placed in the road and it seems the SIC is just bluffing and wanting to bully me.
“I accepted their offer to remove my signs on condition that they show evidence that: Scottish legislation applies in Shetland; the placards are in the road; the placards form an obstruction to anything; that it has not been customary to fix such placards to lampposts during election times.
“Until they show that evidence, the signs stay up until the campaign is over.”
Mr Hill said that, as of Monday, his were the only election signs up. That is very different to the recent Scottish by-election when hundreds were placed, the majority by the SNP but also by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties.
He added: “Maybe the SIC has been successful in intimidating the candidates.”
The council’s head of legal and administration services Jan Riise confirmed on Tuesday that the signs had been taken down.
He said the situation was quite simple. Mr Hill had not applied for permission to put them up and he was not a candidate in the general election.
Only candidates were allowed to put up signs, Mr Riise said. Mr Hill had been given 24 hours take them down and after that time passed they were removed.