Steer clear of our roundabouts, town council warns after company sponsorship idea
COMPANY sponsorship of roundabouts in Dorset could do more harm than good, warns former Gillingham mayor David Milsted.
He has written to Dorset County Council's highways authority spelling out the town council's fears that its own good work would be wrecked by the sponsorship plan.
Councillor Milsted, a member of both councils, said the county's proposal for companies to sponsor 75 roundabouts on Dorset roads could fall foul of business rates.
And it could lead to a drop in standards of maintenance.
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He said the town council currently undertakes the upkeep of roundabouts at Ham and Peacemarsh and verges along Le Neubourg Way.
It means the county council does not pay anything for them.
The town council explored the idea of sponsorship of roundabouts, where local firms would pay the council to look after them in return for advertising.
But, he claims, legal experts warned them it would incur payment of business rates.
So Winning Smiles dentist and Orchard Park maintain the roundabouts in return for advertising themselves and the town council pays them each £1 a year as a peppercorn rate.
The town council maintains Le Neubourg Way at its own expense.
In his letter to County Hall, Mr Milsted states: "It works well and has resulted in these areas being maintained to a much higher standard of safety and public satisfaction than when DCC was doing the work.
"The new DCC proposals threaten to wreck all this good work."
His letter states that Marketing Forces, the Suffolk-based company appointed by the county council to handle the sponsorship, will need to take its share from the income and roundabouts could be left without a sponsor for some time.
The latter states that town councillors did not find county's gravel and low shrubs vision for the roundabouts attractive.
Mr Milsted said he appreciated the county's need to cut costs but as things stand, it has no costs for the Gillingham maintenance.
He appealed to the county council to let Gillingham carry on doing its good work.
A county council spokesman said the sponsorship scheme aimed to improve visitors' impressions of the county and save money for council taxpayers.
Income generated would be shared between Marketing Force and the county council.