THANK you to members of Tavistock Town Council for fighting for common sense and the right to display banners.

Cllr Sanders says that the whole situation arose because a member of the public complained to the borough council. One member of the public? Presumably then if fifty people complain about a proposed ban, the borough council would be failing in its duty if it didn't follow that up too.

So why cloud the issue with talk about poor signing etc, if there was no issue before the complaint? Certainly, the signs should be tidy and ropes straight and unobtrusive, but that is hardly an insurmountable problem.

Tavistock may be a World Heritage site, but there was no condition attached that all human activity should cease. There are many Grade II listed buildings in the town, of which the town hall and surrounding buildings are fine examples but are they 'truly of international status'? Possibly not, nor does the town hall turn into a pumpkin or a hovel whenever a banner is put up.

The buildings are there to be used, not just gazed at and the banners are by far the best form of advertising for all the activities around the town as well as in the town hall.

Cllr Sanders may feel the rhetoric in defence of banners carries little weight, but at least it is weighted by common sense. Perhaps Mr Lawrence should return to his ivory tower and let the town council continue to look after the interests of Tavistock residents and businesses.

R Pierson


IT seems to me West Devon Borough Council have double standards.

On the one hand they find Tavistock Town Council's banners 'detrimental to their setting' and on the other they are quite willing to support the core strategy and ruin the town by foisting 750 houses on us. Common sense, please!

Catherine Trafford-Smith

Meadow Brook, Tavistock

WHAT a colourful and attractive banner we now have hanging in Bedford Square. It is informative, encouraging residents and visitors alike to join in the fun and celebrations on Dickensian Evening.

I have spoken to many people about the banners on display (all have found them helpful) and I have yet to meet the person who objected.

Joan Torvell

Plymouth Road, Tavistock

IT is unwise for local authorities to allow officers too far down the food chain to interpret council policy externally, lest too narrow a view appear to be that of the authority itself. Conservation officers, in particular, have an advisory role (they do not even need to be qualified planning officers) and, whilst they may offer an opinion to planning officers and committee, decisions about what detracts or otherwise are the preserve of the planning committee, delegated in the first instance to the chief planning officer.

For a conservation officer to be allowed to offer such an opinion beyond the confines of his own council and, forsooth, to stray so far from his own brief as to talk about enforcement action, suggests a certain lack of grip in the proceedings of the local planning authority. I should have expected such pronouncements, if made at all, to have come either from the chief planning officer, the chief executive or (if the matter had come before his committee) the chairman of planning committee.

As to the substantive matter of the town hall banners, I do not have a strong view, though I should have thought that, having been long established by custom and practice, it is needlessly provocative to create a casus belli about them. Is this not a time when local councils ought to be working together to minimise expenditure?

Roger W Mathew

Down Road, Tavistock

l A word was omitted from the letter by Melvyn Thomas in last week's Times. The sentence in question should have read: 'Firstly, are the banners damaging to the fabric of the buildings?'