Rise of smartphones means uncertain future for Norwich’s signposts

Some of the signs which were found in a council depot. Some of the signs which were found in a council depot.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
11:10 AM

It‘s a real sign of the times, as the rise of the smartphone could ring the changes when it comes to how people find their way around Norwich.

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The future of the signs around the city, which direct visitors to attractions such as Norwich Castle, The Forum, Dragon Hall and Norwich Cathedral, is uncertain.

Of 34 finger-post Discover Norwich signs, which were installed in 2007 as part of a £300,000 “wayfinding project”, seven are now just poles, having lost every one of their direction signs. Four more had lost at least one sign.

Councillors said frost damage, problems with fixing brackets and signs being hit by vehicles had meant they had to be taken down.

Green members of Norwich City Council recently revealed how dozens of old street signs – including some from 2007 and others which were older, cast-iron items – had been found dumped at a council depot.

The issue of the signs was raised at a council meeting this week, with Green councillor Lucy Galvin and Rupert Read, the eastern region Green Party’s lead candidate at the European elections both asking what would happen to them. While council leaders insisted those signs would, if possible, be re-used, recycled or sold off, they also shed some light on the ones which do remain in the city centre.

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for environment, development and transport, said: “Within the city centre, we have an extensive network of bespoke pedestrian way finding signs that are proving to be a challenge to
maintain and keep up to date.”

He said an audit on the 34 finger-post signs and the six totem signs showed the latter were in a “reasonable” condition. But there were missing or no “fingers” on a third of the other type of signs.

Mr Stonard said: “Aside from the structural problems, there is also the issue of updating signs and maps when names change, for example the Art College on St Georges that features prominently on the signs is now the Norwich University of the Arts.

“Officers are now looking at an options appraisal of what to do next and weighing up the pros and cons of trying to make the existing system fit for purpose.”

But, perhaps ominously for the future of those signs, he added: “It is also worthy of note that, as more and more people have smart phones with map apps, the need for signed wayfinding systems is diminishing.

“We will be developing a report on the options available to resolve the situation for consideration later in the year.”

Do you think the rise of smartphones means Norwich no longer needs so many direction signs? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk.

14 comments

  • How hard can it be to put up and maintain these useful signs? What a load of tosh about 'structural problems' and having to change the name on one sign! If this is the calibre of some people representing the public in Norwich then we are in trouble. And yes, not all of us have, or can afford, smart phones. Get a grip!

    Report this comment

    la barbe

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Frost damage? Seriously? What are these things made of??

    Report this comment

    Only Me

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • £3000.000 for a "Wayfinding Scheme" and the old Cast Iron Signs being removed....WHY

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • two comments binned, one from this morning, and another one to come, gosh this mod. is busy, give herhim a payrise.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

  • What will the returns from the scrapped cast iron signposts be used for? and who is in charege of cleaning road signs? Can we clean roadsigns ourselves if they are dirty and not doing what they are supposed to do?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

  • I'd have to say I'm only in favour of these if they change to black writing. It just looks wrong as it is - a ghastly eyesore.

    Report this comment

    ''V''

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • There are just far too many signs causing visual polution. We just do not need them people will find their way, they will ask, buy a map.have worked out where it is before they set out. or use GPS.

    Report this comment

    Johnny Norfolk

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Changing signs in the first place was change for changes sake. Cast iron signs have undoubtedly stood the test of time, are infinitely recyclable and easily replacable if needed and are recognised by tourists the world over as typically English

    Report this comment

    grounded

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Typical Luddite comment - change the record.

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    Toxteth O'Grady

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Keep 'em coming John.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • They were ghastly eyesores , tourist board type silliness. Smart phones are not universal by any means, some people have better things to do with their money every month than an expensive phone contract-but they may be the sort of people sensible enough to be able to buy and read a map... Signs to the nearest PCs , bus and rail stations and Cathedral should be enough-the Castle advertises itself.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Typical Luddite comment - change the record.

    Report this comment

    Toxteth O'Grady

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

  • Are we, as taxpayers and concerned road users, go out and clean off traffic and road signs that have become too dirty to achieve the required function? And who benefits from the scrapped cast iron signs liiering council depots? And when will the disused council depotpolice car park at xmas, in Chapelfiled be utilised as a proper, managed inner City skatepark?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

  • Money saved from putting up these signs will probably be used to provide temporary toilet facilities for the drunks on Prince of Wales Road at weekends.

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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