Stop the lies from Stop43

I blogged yesterday about the “orphan works” section of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, and explained why I think it’s generally a good thing. Of course, not everyone agrees, and people are free to disagree if they want to. However, there’s disagreeing, and there’s misrepresenting. And some of the opposition to the change goes well beyond the former and into the latter.

Take, for example, this litany of complaints from industry lobby group Stop43. Go and have a read of it now, and see what you think. Then come back here and let me have my say.

OK, read it? Now, let’s take a look at some of what it says.

Normal copyright law as agreed in international copyright treaties, to which the UK is signatory, grants copyright owners ‘the exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of [their] works, in any manner or form.’ Creators don’t have to apply for this right: it is theirs automatically and without formality. This means that unless it is used under one of the narrowly-defined Fair Dealing exceptions to copyright allowed by these treaties, it is illegal to exploit a copyright work without the permission of its owner.

Actually, it isn’t illegal. Copyright infringement, other than in certain limited circumstances, isn’t a criminal offence. It’s what, in law, is described as a “tort” – a civil wrong.

This may seem a minor point, but since we’re talking about the law here, I think it’s important to start with at least a reasonable grasp of what the law actually is. Anyway, on to the next paragraph:

The EAA Act changes all that. Under its provisions it will be legal to exploit a copyright work – photograph, film, text, song, whatever – without the knowledge or permission of, or payment to, its owner.

This is simply false, on several levels. For a start, the ERR Act doesn’t change “all that”, or even anything near it. It simply changes a very small part of it. But this paragraph is misleading in more ways that. Reading it, you’d get the impression that the government is allowing any copyright work to be exploited without the permission of its owner, even if the owner actually objects to them using it. And that is so far from the truth that I find it hard to believe that it’s simply hyperbole. This is a deliberate lie.

What the ERRA will actually allow is the limited exploitation of “orphan” works – that is, works which are subject to copyright, and therefore cannot normally be used without permission, but where the rights owner is unknown and therefore there is nobody to ask permission of. The vast majority of copyright works are not orphans. Most of those that are, are older material where ownership records have been lost in the mists of time.

Nor does the ERRA make it possible for a user to simply decide that a work is an orphan. It requires them to conduct a “diligent search” for the owner before reaching that conclusion. What that will mean in practice has yet to be decided (that’s the sort of thing which is normally left for case law), but it will almost certainly include checking with the various registries as well as doing a standard Google image search to see if the photo exists on a site which gives enough information about it to contact the owner. The implication of Stop43’s website is that this isn’t the case, and that organisations won’t have to make any effort at all to find the owner. This is simply untrue.

1. ‘…the government said the act made “copyright licensing more efficient”.’

Yes, if by ‘efficient’ you mean ‘no longer having to find, get permission from, and pay property owners before exploiting their property’. For almost any other kind of property, this idea would be outrageous. Imagine if this applied to cars, houses or bank accounts.

It means nothing of the sort. It means that, if you have tried your best to find the owner of a work, but fail, then you can still make some use of it rather than having to simply ignore it.

As it happens, that does also apply to physical property. Suppose you find a watch in the street. What the law requires is that you make a reasonable attempt to find the owner (eg, by handing it in to the police). But, if that fails, you are allowed to keep it. That’s actually more severe than the rights granted by the ERRA, as the right use an orphan work never removes that right from the actual owner. But if you find a watch in the street and the owner can’t be traced within a reasonable time, it’s yours for keeps.

2. ‘They are intended to help remove unnecessary barriers to the legitimate use of works while preserving the interests of rights holders.’

As we have said earlier, international copyright treaties grant copyright owners ‘the exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of [their] works, in any manner or form.’ If this is an ‘unnecessary barrier to the legitimate use of works’, quite how are ‘the interests of rights holders’ being preserved by breaking it? The legitimate interests of foreign rights owners are certainly damaged and their rights breached by this Act.

It is true that international copyright treaties grant copyright owners “the exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of [their] works”. But, on the other hand, the purpose of copyright itself is to benefit the consumer by ensuring that works are created. So if the two goals are in conflict, the latter prevails.

In any case, remember that we’re still talking about works where the owner of the copyright is unknown (I have to keep reminding us of that, because Stop43 want us to forget it). It’s hard to see how they are being harmed, therefore, by their works being used without permission.

Going back to the physical property analogy, I managed to lock myself out my house once, just 24 hours after I’d moved into it! I knew that the back door into the yard was unlocked, but I also had no way of getting to the yard other than by climbing over the wall from the neighbouring property. The problem with that is that it was being renovated, wasn’t occupied, and I had no idea who owned it (since I hadn’t seen them in the 24 hours that I’d been there). Legally, using their property without permission is trespass, just like using a photo without permission is copyright infringement (and, incidentally, trespass and copyright infringement have a lot of similarities in law). But I had no way to ask for permission. So what did I do?

I did what, I think, pretty much anyone in that position would do. I trespassed. I went into their yard and climbed over the wall. If you think that what I did was wrong then maybe you’ll also think that using intellectual property in similar circumstances is also wrong. But I suspect you don’t.

Anyway, back to Stop43:

3. ‘The powers do not remove copyright for photographs or any other works subject to copyright, nor do they allow anyone to use a copyright work without permission and free of charge.’

This is a standard bureaucratic statement which is technically correct but evades the real question and is misleading and inaccurate in its effect. It makes two points:

By “technically correct”, what they really mean is “correct”. And as for evading the question in order to mislead, well. An adage about pots and kettles comes to mind, except that in this case, the kettle still happens to be shiny and new.

a. ‘The powers do not remove copyright for photographs or any other works subject to copyright,’

Correct. We didn’t say they did. However, the powers breach copyright owners’ exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of [their] works, because it will be legal to exploit the works without their owners’ knowledge, permission, or payment to them. The practical result is that the works are still in copyright but no longer enjoy the protection of copyright. And so, for these works, ‘copyright’ becomes worthless and meaningless.

You didn’t say they did, no. However, you most certainly implied it. But, again, remember that we’re only talking about works where the owners cannot be traced. I think it’s reasonable to argue (as, in fact, it would be argued in the case of physical property) that if the owner of something cannot be found then that should not necessarily prevent the property being used. After all, what benefit does the owner of an orphan work actually get from their copyright? They can’t earn any money from it, as nobody can find them to pay them.

b. ‘ …nor do they allow anyone to use a copyright work without permission and free of charge.’

Whose permission? Not the copyright owner’s. Who will be paid? Not the copyright owner, because by definition for an orphan work he cannot be found. The copyright owner will get no benefit whatsoever from the commercial exploitation of his work; work which was often made with high skill and at considerable difficulty and cost, in order to generate licensing income for its creator.

Yes, it’s true that the copyright owner will probably get no benefit from the exploitation of his work. But then, he wouldn’t have got any from the non-exploitation of it either.

Again, the implication here seems to be that people who would previously have got paid will, under the new legislation, not get paid. This is completely and utterly false. Someone who can’t be found can’t be paid. That is a simple fact, and no law can change that. So the choice isn’t between use with payment and use without payment. It’s between no use and no possibility of payment, or some use and a possibility, however remote, of payment (because the rights owner, if he becomes aware that his work is being used, will still be in a position to approach the user and negotiate a licence fee).

The final clause of that paragraph is also seriously misleading. As I said in my previous post, the reality is that photography is different to the other main “creative” arts in that it is one where humongous quantities of material are produced by people for no other reason than their own pleasure (or vanity). The overwhelming majority of photos are not taken by professionals. And very few contemporary professional photos are in any danger at all of being wrongly treated as orphan works. So to say that these works are “often made with high skill and at considerable difficulty and cost” is, frankly, bollocks. Some of them are, yes. But the ones which are are also those which will be very unlikely to end up orphaned. The vast majority of orphan works will be those created by amateurs or long-dead professionals (who are in no position to lose out anyway).

Some people complain that many orphan works were never made with commerce in mind, and because of that they ought to be free to exploit. This is a nonsense. If a work has sufficient value to make it exploitable, its owner ought to enjoy a fair whack of the proceeds as is his right under international law. If that work becomes newsworthy and of great value to media organisations (or advertising companies masquerading as tech companies and social media) it becomes a ‘lottery winner’. Why should the creator of the winning lottery ticket not collect his prize? He does in other lotteries.

Again, Stop43 fail to mention that, by definition, we are talking about works by people who cannot be found. Sure, it would be nice if they could be located and rewarded for the fact that people want to use their work. But simply wanting it to be so will not make it so. And yes, ideally the owner of a winning lottery ticket will collect their prize. But sometimes they don’t. And nobody would argue that, because the lottery winner can’t be traced, the money should simply be thrown away instead of being used for other things. But that is precisely what is being argued here by Stop43. If the owner of a copyright work can’t be found, and therefore can’t be paid for the right to use it, they would prefer that nobody gets any benefit from it rather than allowing it to be used for the benefit of the public. That kind of dog in the manger attitude is not only selfish and anti-social, it’s also at odds with the fundamental principles of copyright law itself.

Anyway, before we finish with Stop43, here are a few other things worth noting. Go to the home page of their website, and you’re greeted with this:

You think you own your own photographs? NOT FOR LONG.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act will allow anyone to exploit your photographs without your knowledge, permission, or payment to you.

It should be fairly obvious by now that this is false. It goes beyond false. It’s a deliberate, malicious lie.

While you’re there, though, have a look around the site. Try to find out who owns and runs the site. It’s surprisingly difficult. No names are mentioned, just the fact that the site is run by “a handful of activists“. A lot of organisations are mentioned, but if you read carefully you see that none of them have actually endorsed Stop43. (This “lie by implication” seems to be a bit of a habit of the site’s authors). There are no contact details other than an email address.

It’s difficult, therefore, to find out any more about the background of those behind the site. The domain name, stop43.org.uk, is registered to Editorial Photographers UK Ltd, but apparently this was done as a favour for the organisers several years ago and there’s no direct link between either EPUK or the postal address in the registration data.

Whoever is behind it, though, I find the deliberately deceptive tactics of Stop43 to be particularly unpalatable. Of course, there’s nothing new about this – copyright lobbyists from the music and movie industries have a track record of using misleading language in their attempts to protect their outdated business models, and it’s not really a surprise to find a photography group doing the same. But the reason it matters more here is because, unlike music and movies, nearly all of us are creators of photography as well as consumers of it.

Stop43’s campaign is clearly aimed at persuading the average Instagram user that the government has decided to nationalise all their photos, something which is – if believed – guaranteed to get them up in arms. The fact that this bears virtually no resemblance to reality isn’t going to be spotted by a typical social network user who is probably only dimly aware of copyright at all. So it’s a lot easier to whip up public hysteria over a change to the law which, in reality, will probably benefit amateur photographers (if it has any effect on them at all) rather than harm them. Nor will it hurt those professionals who take photos on commission, or news photographers. The only people who genuinely have anything to lose from the new law are those who make a living creating stock photography, as they will now be competing with a much larger body of freely usable material. But income from stock photography is already on the wane, as EPUK itself handily points out.

Like the music industry, professional photography is affected by technological and societal change. And it’s unrealistic to expect the law to stand still as the digital world revolves around it. The small, selfish minds behind Stop43, though, would like us all to believe that progress is a bad thing. And I think we have to nail that lie.

Edit: I’ve updated this article to remove the whois data for stop43.org.uk, as I now have it on good authority that the registered address has nothing at all to do with the Stop43 as an organisation. Obviously, it’s still out there for those who want to look it up, but as it’s not relevant to my article I don’t want to wrongly give the impression that those associated with the address are anything to do with Stop43.

The copyright orphanage

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act may not sound like the most exciting of laws, but it contains a section which will make some significant differences to the way copyright is applied to photos. And, since a lot of people take photos and post them on the Internet, they may be interested to know what those changes will be.

Or maybe not. Because, although you wouldn’t think it to read some of the attacks on the bill (such as this one in The Register by copyright enthusiast Andrew Orlowski, or this one by well known photographer David Bailey), it’s unlikely that the Act will have any significant negative effect at all on the vast majority of photographers, both professional and amateur.

The new clause concerns photos which are what is technically known as an “orphan work” – a photo which is subject to copyright, and therefore not available for use without the permission of the photographer, but where the identity of the photographer isn’t known and therefore can’t be asked.

What the new law actually says, in effect, is that it’s OK to use photos you come across on the Internet (or in print) without needing the permission of the photographer, provided you can show that you made what the law calls a “diligent search” to try and find out who the photo belongs to. Or, in other words, if it’s an orphan work, then it’s OK to use it. Although by “OK” it doesn’t mean “for free” – if the photographer finds out that his or her photo has been used, they are still entitled to charge a fee. It just means that the user can’t be whacked with punitive fees just because, when they tried to find out who they should contact to ask for permission, they drew a blank.

Photographers are up in arms at this, because they fear that the change in the law will be exploited by commercial organisations which will simply use photos left right and centre without making more than a cursory attempt to find out who owns them. That is, clearly, a genuine possibility, although the law also offers a way of mitigating this by providing a way for photographers to register their photos with a central database so that they will show up in a search. So long as you’ve done that, then a user can’t reasonably claim to have carried out a diligent search if they couldn’t even be bothered to look in the most obvious place. That makes their use unauthorised, even with the benefit of the new law. Many photographers, though, aren’t happy with this, because they feel that it imposes an unnecessary burden on them to prevent commercial exploitation by registering.

The particular complaint by many people is that many social networks and online photo sharing websites tend to make it harder to find out who originally created a photo. They do this by stripping out what’s known as the “meta data” – code hidden within a photo file which, originally, contains a wealth of information about where, when and how the photo was taken – things which can make it a lot easier to find out who took the photo in the first place. So photos posted on Facebook, Instagram et al are more likely to end up being deemed to be “orphan”, because there’s nothing associated with them which would enable a reasonably diligent search to discover where they came from. Stick your photos on Facebook, and there’s now a much greater chance of them ultimately being used commercially without your permission.

So, the orphan works clause (or the “Instagram Act” as Orlowski calls it) is a bad thing, right?

Well, no. Despite the howls of protest, I think it’s a good thing. Here’s an orphan work:

That’s a photo of Evesham Midland Station sometime before it closed. That’s pretty much all I know. I found it via a Google image search for “old photos of Evesham”. The website which I took it from doesn’t give any information about it either. Looking closely, it appears to be a postcard, and it looks fairly old. It’s old enough that it may well be out of copyright, in which case it’s perfectly fine for me to use it anyway. But it may not be. If the photographer died later than 1943 then it’s still in copyright and I shouldn’t really use it without the permission of his heirs, who now own the copyright on the photo. If we’re going to play this by the book, therefore, I shouldn’t use it, and neither should the website I found it on, and neither should Google. And all of us would be denied the chance to see a fascinating slice of life gone by. (Well, maybe not that fascinating, unless you’re into steam railways. But I am).

The new legislation, though, will allow me to use it. I’ll still need to pay a reasonable licensing fee if the copyright owner does turn up and wants to licence the photo to me, which is fair enough. But I’m not in the position of having to avoid using the photo just because I don’t know who owns it. And it’s hard to see how that can be considered a bad thing.

OK, you may say, so that’s one example of where the law is a good thing. But what about all the people who upload their photos to Facetwitagram and might end up with them being used in the same way?

Well, what about them? At the moment, if you don’t know who owns a photo, you can’t use it. And if you don’t use it, you clearly don’t owe any fees to the owner for not using it. In future, you can use it, but if you do you might end up having to pay a fee if the owner comes forward. Again, it’s hard to see how that can be a bad thing. To the owner of a photo, there is no practical difference between someone not using it and not paying you because they can’t find you and someone using it and not paying you because they can’t find you.

But what about privacy? What if someone doesn’t want the world and his dog looking at their photos? The obvious answer to that is that if you don’t want them to be seen by the public, don’t make them publicly accessible on the Internet.

What about people who want their photos to be used, but also want to be paid? That’s entirely reasonable, but professional photographers do not use Facebook, TwitPic and Instagram as their sole publishing method. If you’re a professional photographer, or have ambitions to be one, then you’ll already be putting your photos on display in places where prospective users can find out exactly who you are. Or you’ll be doing work on a contract basis where people pay you to take photos rather than just paying you for ones you’ve already taken. Or you’ll have links with established agencies, such as Getty Images, who will market your photos for you. For the true professional, the prospect of a centralised register is a plus, not a negative – it makes it easier to ensure that your photos are always in a place where prospective purchasers can find them.

For those reasons alone, then, I think that opposition to the Act is overblown. It can’t possibly hurt amateurs who don’t earn anything from their photos to begin with (and might even help them), and is unlikely to hurt any professional who is prepared to put a bit of effort into monetising their work. But there are other, more philosophical reasons to favour the legislation.

One of those is consistency. If you’re in favour of a more relaxed approach to “fair use” of copyright work (a term which isn’t found in UK legislation, but does nonetheless convey a widely-understood principle) when it comes to things like music and movies, then you also have to be in favour when it comes to photos. There’s more than a smidgeon of hypocrisy in the attitude of many people who are all in favour of being allowed to share files that contain their favourite songs, but don’t want other people to share files that contain their photos. (Having said that, I’m not accusing Andrew Orlowski of hypocrisy. Far from it: he has consistently opposed any and all extensions to fair use principles in every aspect of copyright). But the most fundamental reason to support the legislation is found in the nature of copyright itself.

The purpose of copyright is not to provide a benefit to the creator. The purpose of copyright is to provide a benefit to the consumer, by incentivising the creator to produce more work. In some cases, that clearly works – in software and movies, for example, we wouldn’t have anything like the variety and quality available to us that we do have if the creators of them couldn’t make money from them. And it arguably applies in music, although with much less justification. But it doesn’t apply to photos.

The reality is that photography is different to the other main “creative” arts in that it is one where humongous quantities of material are produced by people for no other reason than their own pleasure (or vanity). The overwhelming majority of photos are not taken by professionals. And very few contemporary professional photos are in any danger at all of being wrongly treated as orphan works.

The purpose of copyright is to benefit the consumer by increasing supply. So the only way that legislation which affects copyright can be judged is on the how it affects that goal. So here’s the question which needs to be asked: Will the orphan works section of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act reduce the quantity and/or quality of photographs available to the public, either directly or via intermediaries such as news outlets and other publishers? Because only if the answer is “yes” is there any rational, unbiased reason to oppose it.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering what the point of the image is at the top of this article, I would have thought it’s obvious. It’s a stock photo.

Edit: I’ve written a follow-up to this post, addressing some of the claims made by one particular lobby group in more detail.

Let’s give racism a kicking in Evesham

On Thursday, we’ll be voting in the county council elections. In the Evesham South division, where I live, we have a candidate from the BNP – the only one from that party in our area.

I’m confident that the BNP candidate will come bottom of the poll, which is precisely where he belongs. But I think it’s important to make sure that he comes bottom by as big a margin as possible. So, even if you weren’t planning to vote this time – maybe because you feel that the result is a foregone conclusion, or you’re not really interested in local politics, or you feel that none of the candidates represents your view – I want to encourage you to vote anyway.

I’ll be voting for our Conservative candidate, Bob Banks, who is seeking re-election as councillor for Evesham South and has a track record in serving the town well. But even if you’d prefer to see a different party represented in County Hall, I’d encourage you to vote for your candidate. In the 2009 county elections, Evesham North West had a BNP candidate who got 16% of the vote. I want to see that figure drastically reduced this time here in Evesham South. But to do that means supporters of all the mainstream parties making their way to the polling stations on 2nd May.

So let’s make it clear that racism has no place here in Evesham. No matter who you vote for, make sure that you vote.

The full list of candidates in Evesham South is:

Bob Banks, Conservative
Julie Anne Haines, Liberal Democrats
Liam Murphy Hartland, British National Party
Alan Titus, Labour

Greatest Prime Minister?

A YouGov survey commissioned by The Sun puts Margaret Thatcher, unsurprisingly, at the top of the list in response to the question “Who do you think has been the greatest British Prime Minister since 1945?”. The full order, according to respondants, is:

  1. Margaret Thatcher 28%
  2. Winston Churchill 24%
  3. Tony Blair 10%
  4. Harold Wilson 6%
  5. Clement Attlee 5%
  6. Gordon Brown 2%
  7. Anthony Eden 1%
  8. Harold MacMillan 1%
  9. Alec Douglas-Home 1%
  10. Jim Callaghan 1%
  11. John Major 1%
  12. Edward Heath 0%
  13. David Cameron 0%

Some commentators have picked up on David Cameron’s position at the bottom; I think that’s rather unfair as you can really only judge a PM by his or her legacy and, clearly, Cameron hasn’t been in office long enough to be able to determine that. Edward Heath’s big fat zero is possibly unfair too, but I suspect he only got that because the survey didn’t allow for negative figures.

It does seem to me, though, that people are voting mainly on a combination of their personal memories and popular mythology. I think Winston Churchill is considerably overrated in this poll: as a wartime leader he was excellent but his post-war government was mediocre at best. And I’m surprised by the lack of votes for Clement Attlee; you would have thought that the PM who gave us the modern welfare state (and massive nationalisation) would be held in higher regard, particularly by those on the left of politics.

If I was placing them in order, I’d have Thatcher at the top (of course), followed by Tony Blair and then Attlee in third place. The rest, I think, are much of a muchness – only the three I’ve chosen managed to rise above mediocrity and approach greatness. Harold Wilson was a good administrator, but too much in thrall to the unions. Jim Callaghan’s government was ineffective primarily because he inherited the long-term consequences of Wilson’s pandering to the unions, though. Callaghan himself was not as inept as he is sometimes painted (although he was, arguably, one of the best political examples of the Peter Principle), but he was simply powerless to make any real difference. John Major and Gordon Brown had the misfortune to be following on from a great leader (and suffering the fallout from their ejection from power). Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home were politicrats who rose to their position almost by default. And I think we’re still waiting for the next great British politician (and no, it won’t be Boris).

Evesham Abbey Bridge – closure delayed

Probably not unexpected, but this press release has just been sent out by Worcestershire County Council:

Temporary bridge to increase pace on vital Abbey Bridge replacement work delayed by severe weather

Flooding, snow and prolonged freezing conditions this winter has meant that some elements of the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct replacement work have been delayed. The County Council’s contractor, Hochtief, have been working on re-programming the scheme, exploring the options to reduce the impact of the poor weather.

Hochtief have concluded that the erection of temporary pedestrian bridge will allow replacement work to take place on both sides of the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct simultaneously reducing the project delays caused by severe weather this winter.

The new two-metre wide temporary bridge will be installed at the end of April on the east side by crane on Sunday, April 28, ensuring the commitment made to retain pedestrian and cyclist access into and out of the town throughout the scheme is kept. River clearing space of the temporary bridge will be the same as the existing bridge ensuring there will be no impact on planned summer river festivals or traffic.

A temporary closure of Waterside on April 28 – from the Abbey Bridge traffic lights to the hospital access – will be necessary whilst the pedestrian bridge is put in place.

Despite the harsh conditions parts of the project have been progressing but this decision will allow work on both sides of the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct to take place at the same time – increasing the speed of construction whilst maintaining two-way traffic.

A 10-week full closure of the link will still be necessary and this is now planned to start in September.

Peter Blake, Worcestershire County Council’s Head of Integrated Transport, said: “The weather has certainly not been kind over this winter period. Flooding, heavy snow and pro-longed sub zero temperatures have caused a delay to parts of the scheduled work to replace the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct.

“Hochtief, our contractor, have for some time looking at what options we have to speed up work. Freezing conditions continuing to bite into April has meant opportunities to accommodate the delays have become more limited, which is why we’ve taken the decision to install this temporary pedestrian bridge allowing work to take place on both sides of the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct. Everything is being done to keep any disruption to a minimum.”

“Clear communication is a key part to ensure the town remains open for business. We’re as committed as ever to this however we haven’t been in a position to confirm what additional steps would be taken to speed up work and exactly when the 10-week closure period could take place until now.

“Finally, I’d like to ask people to continue to support traders in Evesham whilst this essential replacement work, which is vital in securing the long-term future of the town, continues.”

To keep people up to date with what’s happening with the Abbey Bridge and Viaduct Replacement scheme a regularly updated dedicated web section can be found at www.worcestershire.gov.uk/abbeybridge, a newsletter (now published monthly) will continue to be sent out in the town, regular Twitter updates through the County Council’s account (@worcscc) will continue with the hashtag #abbeybridge and a new public information board situated in Abbey Road (near to the Leisure Centre access) is also available to view.

A package of traffic measures were put in place in February and will remain for the duration of the scheme. These include extensive signage on all major routes, including the A46, into Evesham extending as far back as Junction Six of the M5 to promote alternative routes for motorists, residents and visitors.

A £200,000 initiative to promote the town centre, its attractions and to support local traders and businesses is also continuing. The partnership project between Worcestershire County Council, Wychavon District Council and the Evesham Market Town Partnership, which began last summer, includes an 18-month campaign managed by a local company to showcase and communicate what Evesham has to offer for residents and visitors from further afield, a major discount scheme applying to car-parking charges during the closure period and business support/advice.

Obviously, this is bad news, and there’s no pretending otherwise. Pushing the closure back into September not only means that the overall timescale is longer but also that we’re going to miss the summer holiday window of opportunity when the schools are closed and traffic is much lighter. Closing the bridge in September will have significantly more impact than closing it in August. But I am pleased that the contractors have decided to mitigate the delays by putting in a temporary pedestrian bridge, even if this means a brief disruption to Waterside. You can see a basic layout of the temporary bridge in this PDF.

Incidentally, although the press release talks about the council’s bridge project website, this has yet to be updated at the time I’m writing this. But, even if it isn’t kept as up to date as it ought to be, I’ll try to make sure that I keep on top of any developments here on my own blog.