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Council moves to ban 'distracting' religious banner on side of church

A CHURCH could be forced to remove religious banners because council chiefs say they pose road safety risks.

The signs at Banff Parish Church, Aberdeenshire, invite passers-by who are "looking for the way, truth and life" to join the kirk's congregation.

But Aberdeenshire Council road chiefs say the banners are a dangerous distraction to drivers and must be taken down.

The banners were put up at the entrance of the Church of Scotland building on Banff's High Street several months ago. But the local authority insisted they both required formal retrospective permission, because the B-listed church is within a historic conservation zone.

Now, planning officers are calling for the kirk's application for advertisement and listed building consent to be rejected. In a report to go before councillors, infrastructure services director Stephen Archer says that officers from various council offices had objected to the signs.

He said: "It is deemed the banners are visually obtrusive and negative to the character of the listed building, while also having a detrimental impact upon the wider conservation area which could create an unfavourable precedent."

An assessment by the council's roads development team concluded the signs could catch the eye of motorists. A council report states: "There is a school crossing patroller in operation adjacent to the church. It's possible that these banners could distract motorists' attention away from the road, resulting in an accident involving pedestrians."

But the kirk has pledged to fight to keep its banners.

The Rev David Locke will put forward his case when he addresses members of the council's Banff and Buchan area committee on Tuesday.

He said: "I cannot understand, when you have a High Street full of shop signs and Christmas lights, why they would object to our signs."

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