NEW powers are being used to crack down on the thousands of illegal flyposters blighting city streets.

The bills – often promoting club nights, gigs and other entertainment – are plastered on empty shops, utility boxes and lampposts, and contribute to a city clean-up bill that runs to hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

Peeling posters are also blamed for sparking ‘the broken window effect’ and starting a spiral of litter, rubbish dumping and antisocial behaviour.

But catching those who paste the posters up proves difficult, with bills often appearing overnight.

Now Oxford City Council enforcement officers are using different powers that allow them to target the venues and promoters that benefit from illegal advertising.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act, anyone who benefits financially from the goods and services offered on the posters can be prosecuted, fined up to £2,500 by magistrates and forced to pay the clean-up costs.

A crackdown has been launched in East Oxford, and council staff have been patrolling the area to gather photographic evidence.

Enforcement officer Rob Powell said flyposting was an issue throughout the area and was the focus of the latest phase of the council’s Cleaner, Greener Campaign.

He said: “We have sent letters out to the clubs to point out we are using powers against businesses, that flyposting is rife and that we will be cracking down.”

Enforcement officers Kevin Deane and Mandy Wallington said boarded-up shops and utility boxes were often targeted by flyposters and then attracted further problems.

She said: “It’s the typical ‘broken window’ effect. Something that looks bad attracts other stuff, you get rubbish dumped and antisocial behaviour. It can attract all sorts.”

She said offending businesses would be given 48 hours to remove illegal posters before further enforcement action was taken.

She added there were a number of legitimate sites where events could be promoted, including two noticeboards in Manzil Way gardens.

City councillor David Williams described the issue as a “menace” that was raised constantly by residents in East Oxford.

Joe Roberts, general manager of The O2 Academy, in Cowley Road, said all promoters using the venue signed agreements not to flypost.

He said if the venue was notified of an issue then promoters were asked to deal with it immediately.

Mr Roberts added: “It’s something we don’t do, it’s not worth it. Our promoters use the legal sites.”

Heath Thompson, manager of Spires Furniture in Cowley Road, knows first-hand the problems flyposting can cause.

He said: “When we opened this shop we scrapped off 15cm or 20cm of posters from the windows.

“If you are trying to regenerate an area, bill posters are not what you want. But there is a place for everything and people want to know about events, we all like to go out.”