Setback for West End’s talking signs

Confusion and doubt surrounds Lincolnshire County Council’s scheme to put up talking warning signs around Lincoln’s West End, as they are triggered by motion rather than sound. The initial plans were centred around the signs being voice-activated.

It was thought they would go off when they sense loud noises, so to tell revellers on their way home from nights out to keep quiet in residential areas.

However, Robert Parker, Lincolnshire County Councillor for the West End, said in a report: “The machine is designed to react to movement, not sound. This means that anyone passing the beam will activate the spoken message… [the signs] can’t distinguish between noisy and quiet people.”

The report also noted that in an area of Lincoln where these signs had been used, residents “thought it was a good idea but [the signs are] too noisy.”

In his conclusion, Cllr Parker wrote: “[The signs are] not designed for situations where some (noisy) people are the targets… I think this is a fundamental flaw and in my judgement is enough for us not to proceed further.”

The Carholme Community Forum, a residents group to whom the report was put last Tuesday December 2nd, were sceptical about the potential efficacy of the signs. One member described it as “gimmicky”, whilst others pointed out the drop in anti-social behaviour in the evenings, saying they did not want to provoke any change to that situation.

However, as the signs have already been purchased by the county council, it was decided to run a two-week trial period next February. The exact location of the two signs during the trial period is to be decided nearer the time.

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