Sad street furniture

SIR – As the eyes of the world will briefly be focused on Barnstaple in September due to Bradley Wiggins’ participation in the Tour of Britain cycle race, I feel I need to bring to your attention the appalling state of Barnstaple street furniture and finger signs.

This matter was brought to my attention by tourists after they had visited the town and who will spread the word of their Barnstaple experience.

On several occasions I spent a few hours canvassing the views of tourists departing the town after coach tours, and those leaving via the bus and railway station.

I know this was not a very scientific way of gathering information, but it did throw up two themes: The first is that all were agreed the customer service they received during their visit to Barnstaple was second to none.

The second was the appalling state of Barnstaple’s street furniture; litter bins and lamp-posts looked as if they had not been painted or maintained for years, and a confusing mixture and condition of finger signs.

Some of the tourists spoken to have also visited Plymouth and other popular West Country areas and all agreed, that without exception the street furniture was maintained in much better condition than that in Barnstaple.

These views were reinforced by a foreign news team that I spoke to recently in the town, who were filming a feature to be syndicated worldwide on areas the Tour of Britain would be racing through and the approach of different areas to attracting tourists.

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They told me that they will always pick out a dirty or damaged sign, or dilapidated street furniture, as a visual example of an area’s approach to attracting tourists – well they certainly were spoilt for choice when filming in Barnstaple.

John Arden, Boutport Street, Barnstaple.

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