Phantom sign-swiper strikes in Yorkshire village

Part of the missing signs 'Bermuda Triangle' in North Yorkshire - The pretty village of Aldborough
Part of the missing signs 'Bermuda Triangle' in North Yorkshire - The pretty village of Aldborough
Have your say

COMMUNITY groups in a corner of North Yorkshire are grappling with an unusual ‘whodunnit’ after the mystery disappearance of a raft of handmade signs advertising local events.

The strange goings-on first emerged when organisers of this year’s Northern Aldborough Festival reported signs put up round the local village of Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, had all quickly gone missing. In fact, they said, every sign that had been put up for the last six months had disappeared. The same thing had happened with Whixley Open Garden Day.

The signs were only up for a week or so before disappearing.

Aidan Foster, church warden at Aldborough

Organiser Barry Atkinson said: “Two signs were put up on the A59 coming into Whixley crossroads from York and one just past the roundabout at Allerton. Both have vanished. Two signs were taken from the Boroughbridge road, the B6265, near to the turn-off for Marton.

“One approaching Marton from Boroughbridge and one approaching Marton the other way.”

There were also similar reports from other local villages, Lower Dunsforth and Marton cum Grafton.

The director of Northern Aldborough Festival, Robert Ogden, initially appeared to have a useful clue indicating officialdom might have had a hand in the removal.

He said he had told Harrogate Borough Council (HBC): “The Northern Aldborough Festival, which ran this year from June 11-20 put out some dark blue advertising signs in various positions in the local area around ten days before the event.

“At some stage before the festival began these were removed and have not been located. Assuming they had been removed by North Yorkshire County Council, we visited their depot and they told us that, in their opinion, they had been removed by HBC.”

But a spokesman from Harrogate’s Economy and Culture department said they had told Northern Aldborough Festival: “I have spoken to case officers from Planning and can confirm nobody in this department has removed your signs.

“My advice would be to speak to staff at North Yorkshire County Council as they handle complaints regarding event signage within their responsibility as the leading highways authority.

“With regards to retrieving the signs, I would suggest you look behind any hedges where the signs were located as people often dump them somewhere locally after removal.”

However, a county council spokesman said that although some complaints about the signs had been received, the council had “no idea” who was removing them.

He said: “We’ve always had a relatively relaxed attitude on community groups putting signs up to publicise their events.

“In the past we’ve tended to turn a blind eye as long as they’re not causing a safety issue by where they are placed.”

But he did add: “In recent months we’ve been receiving complaints from people complaining about the proliferation of signage littering the countryside in North Yorkshire. Even so, if we need to remove any signs we always contact the people involved and give them three chances to do so. And we usually allow them to keep them up for 30 days anyway.”

Locals dispute their signs are causing a problem. The church warden at Aldborough, Aidan Foster, said: “As I do every year for Northern Aldborough Festival, I placed signs on verges well away for traffic and nobody could argue they were obscuring any road signage. They were only up for a week or so before disappearance.”