I have a category on this website that is called ‘Nothing to do with cycling’. I use it for all those bits and pieces that I put on here that are just that. The riots for example. Here is another one; property ‘to let’ or ‘for sale’ signs. The picture above was taken this morning outside The Meridian in Reading. I live in one of the flats at The Meridian and find it quite annoying that estate agents seem to think that it is fine to stick their unsightly signs on the railings of the development. Do they have permission to do so? I doubt it very much. However, it is a scourge of modern life that I suppose we have to put up with. Or is it? If you look closely at the signs above you will see that more than half of them are no longer advertising flats for sale or to let but properties that the particular company concerned has successfully managed to sell or to let. Why do we need to be told this information and more importantly, why do the signs have to remain in place?
I’ll leave that question hanging for a moment. I could, I suppose, take direct action and remove the signs. All it would take is a pair of sharp scissors to cut through the plastic tags that keep each sign attached to the railings. In my dreams, I would then take each sign back to the office of the appropriate estate agents in Reading and casually leave each one on the floor of the office for them to sort out. I don’t of course, not least because only having Reggie (that’s my bike by the way for anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with the site, and there may be a few – see below) means it’s difficult to do so. That’s the action of last resort however; why should I remove signs that I haven’t put there in the first place?
Earlier this week I took a more sensible approach and asked a chap from Prospect Estate Agents who was in the process of putting one of the signs up if he was going to take any of the others down. The redundant ones, the ones that advertise properties that have been let or sold. He said he wasn’t… He did however agree with me that it was ridiculous that they should remain in place but he was only following orders… He suggested I phone the office and the following day I did just that. He recommended that I speak to a chap called James May (not a difficult name to forget!) who was one of the directors so I asked for Mr May but he ‘wasn’t answering his phone’. In fairness, I didn’t give my name to the lady who was dealing with me so perhaps it’s standard practice not to speak to unidentified callers. I wouldn’t myself. I did however explain my grievance to the lady I was speaking to. She was very polite and explained that it was for ‘market share’ reasons. Mmm… She did however, promise to act but as of today, Friday, there has been no removal of any of the boards.
Why not limit each estate agent to just one sign outside developments like The Meridian? If you look on the left of the picture above, the three Romans signs have small plaques attached to the post of the sign. These plaques indicate the number of the flat that is being sold or to let. I think I could live with one sign from each company with lots of smaller plaques on the post. If the estate agents really feel obliged to let us know how well they are doing, once a property has been sold or let they could write this on top of the number, no?
And just one other thing; if the estate agents themselves don’t think that the signs are street clutter, why do none of them choose to use pictures of the developement which include the signs themselves? I just did a search for ‘Property at The Meridian, Reading’ on Google and these are the pictures that the estate agents themselves are using… Interesting.
So, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to send a link to this page to all of the estate agents concerned, including of course Mr May. I’ll also send a link to the Reading Post and The Reading Chronicle, to Rob Wilson MP, to Radio Berkshire, to my local councillors Mohammed Ayub, Tony Page & Bet Tickner… Any other suggestions? I wonder if, within a week, any of the unnecessary street clutter will have been removed? Let’s see.
Update, 6pm: Job done! I even contacted South Today for good measure. Let’s see what happens… Come on estate agents, do the right think and remove your unsightly clutter before you are named and shamed 🙂
Update, Sunday 14th: The BBC have been in contact wanting to know a contact telephone number – they said they may ring me in the coming week – and one of the local councillors has emailed back with very supportive comments! No word from Prospect / Romans / Atlantis / Haslams yet…
Update, Saturday 1st October: I’d like to think it is as a result of my efforts (at least in part); I am delighted to say that the number of boards outside B block at The Meridian in Reading has reduced from fourteen to a more understandable five. Here they are in the picture. The one from Atlantis is for a property that is ‘sold’ and the one just to its right for a property that has been ‘let’ but let’s not quibble. The monstrous number of signs from Romans has reduced from four to one but better still is the reduction from seven to zero of the boards put up by the shiny-suited teenagers from a company called Prospect. I have nothing but disdain for this organisation that regularly sends me letters addressed to ‘The Legal Owner” of my flat (presumably trying to get around the regulations associated with Mail Preference Service). Initially the number of their boards was reduced from seven to four but a few days later I noticed that they had merely thrown three of the boards on the ground behind the fence. Very professional! After a few phone calls to the boys manning (not, if you think about, possible) the phones in the office in Reading, the ones attached to the railings were removed (thanks! but not what I was asking for). The three chucked behind the fence remained until I called their call centre in Wokingham. Some polyester-clad youth told me it wasn’t an issue he could deal with (despite the freephone number I had called been proudly emblazoned at the top of their website) and he cut me off in full flow! However, it must have had some effect as when I returned they had disappeared… Let’s hope they stay away.