Backlash as ‘phantom poster pincher’ revealed

Banners against incinerator row at Wisbech

From left: MP Steve Barclay and Mayor and (centre) town clerk Terry Jordan with an earlier banner. Right: The WisWIN banner removed from the bridge. - Credit: Archant

The ‘phantom poster pincher’ of Wisbech has been exposed as none other than the county council – and it's prompted an outcry. 

Not only did a county highways team remove banners belonging to anti-incinerator group WisWIN they went back and removed ALL banners opposed to the £300m project.  

And that included a banner produced by the town council and proudly erected days earlier by MP Steve Barclay. 

MP Steve Barclay and Mayor Andrew Lynn with the protest banner. Days later it was removed. By the county council 

MP Steve Barclay and Mayor Andrew Lynn with the protest banner. Days later it was removed. By the county council - Credit: Steve Barclay

The NE Cambs MP boosted: “Posters have already gone up on a range of sites such as in Algores Way and outside The Sportsman in Elm,” said the MP after he had posed for a photo with the mayor, Cllr Andrew Lynn. 

Conservative councillors in Wisbech deny they had complained about the WisWIN banners.  

Then you saw it, now you don't. The banner removed by the county council

Then you saw it, now you don't. The banner removed by the county council - Credit: Archant


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After video evidence had shown the highways team removing the WisWIN banner – I asked the county council to explain why they were allowing others - including the nearby one put there by MP Steve Barclay - to remain? 

“The latest WisWIN banner was removed today having been erected at 11.30am,” I pointed out.  

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“CCTV evidence shows it was removed within two hours which would suggest someone called you?” 

On Thursday the council framed a response, copying in Wisbech Conservative councillor Steve Tierney. 

Another day, another banner goes up WisWIN campaigners

Another day, another banner goes up WisWIN campaigners - Credit: WisWIN

The spokesperson said: “Unauthorised or advertising signs are not permitted on the highway.  

“Highway officers will take action when unauthorised signs along a road pose a hazard to other road users or in response to a complaint from a parish or town council or from other elected representatives.  

“Now we have been made aware of similar signage in the area the highway officer will inspect those too.” 

But that response prompted an angry response from Cllr Tierney.  

He wrote back to the council: “Having just read your response I am absolutely FURIOUS. 
“Your response suggests that a local councillor has made a complaint which led to the removal. 
 
“THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED. 

“We all support the anti-incinerator campaign.  
“Just as CCC is pledged through a motion to full council to oppose the Incinerator... so it the town AND the district council.” 

He added: “Your response is false and misleading. 
 

“If a highways officer has made a mistake and didn't know about the CCC motion then CCC should admit the error and apologise... not seek to blame local members who had nothing to do with it. 
 

“Please amend your misleading response immediately.” 

His colleague Cllr Sam Hoy said: “I agree, the worst written response I’ve seen  

“Suggests there was a complaint when there wasn’t.” 

Town clerk Terry Jordan pictured last year with an early banner

Town clerk Terry Jordan pictured last year with an early banner - Credit: WTC

Cllr Hoy added: “Also to say you are only now aware of the other signs…. the highways officer couldn’t have missed them as he would have seen them when taking down the poster he took down.” 

Local activist Peter Freeman, a member of WisWIN, provided evidence of the highways team removing their banner.  

He arranged with a local business to install CCTV focused on the town bridge to see who was removing their banners.  

On Tuesday he found out. 

Virginia Bucknor of WisWIn said there had been able to retrieve from the highways depot at March three of the four banners that been removed. 

Wisbech town council banner

Wisbech town council banner - Credit: WTC

WisWIN protestor Peter Freeman shows where the banner was removed

WisWIN protestor Peter Freeman shows where the banner was removed - Credit: Archant

Mrs Bucknor also revealed  WisWIN has won The Earth Movers Award for the East of England by the Friends of the Earth.

“It’s great that our campaign is at last reaching a wider audience so many of whom will be impacted if this horror is allowed to go ahead.” 

A county council spokesperson later added further clarification.

"The banners had been erected on the bridge railings and were found to be causing interference with visibility for other highway users.

"Therefore, as they posed a hazard were removed at the time of inspection by the Highways Inspector. There was no complaint from a parish or town council or from other elected representatives in this instance.

"It was purely dealt with as part of the normal safety inspection regime as described in the Highways Operational Standards document published on Cambridgeshire County Councils website. "


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