The City of Canning council has scrapped a plan to ban hamburgers, faces of wannabe politicians and anything that might be deemed offensive from being advertised at suburban bus shelters.
The council was in the spotlight two weeks ago over the rules its staff wanted to apply ahead a long-term contract with an advertising organisation to supply and maintain its street furniture, which also includes bench seats and public rubbish bins.
Some councillors took umbrage with the advertising restrictions being sought by their own staff and this week they voted to restart the tender process with a less restrictive rulebook that mayor Patrick Hall hopes will appease a wider range of advertisers.
Rather than directly targeting fast food, alcohol and smoking industries, the new agreement will stipulate that advertising compliance rules remain in line with State and Federal laws.
“Until the State and Federal governments take the lead on these matters, I’m wondering why the small City of Canning would introduce restrictive covenants to businesses that are not performing any illegal activity,” Mr Hall said at the March 21 council meeting.
He said the proposed restrictions would have also kept businesses not directly based in the City of Canning from being able to advertise and as such, the deal wouldn’t have provided best “value for money” for the city.
Three councillors unsuccessfully argued the tougher restrictions should stay, backing health guidance presented at the meeting by Cancer Council WA cancer prevention and research director Melissa Ledger.
“I would have liked to see Canning be a leader in this field when it comes to banning the advertising of junk food at least on our assets,” Cr Sara Saberi said.
“As policy makers and regulators, it is our responsibility to safeguard public health.”
After the meeting Ms Ledger blasted the decision, saying it sent a message that health comes second to profits.
“We are disappointed the interests of alcohol, junk food and advertising industries have been put ahead of the health and wellbeing of residents of City of Canning,” Ms Ledger said.
“Exposing children and young people to alcohol product marketing increases the likelihood that they will start drinking earlier and drink at risky levels, and we know junk food ads influence children and young people’s brand awareness, what they want to buy, and eat and for children, what they pester their parents for.”
Ms Ledger said all levels of government need to play their part and protect the community from the profit-making motives of the junk food, alcohol and advertising industry.
“Local councils have an important role to play in restricting alcohol and junk food marketing, but the City of Canning didn’t take that role seriously.”
Cr Ben Kunze was pleased the new plan also would not discriminate against prospective politicians from advertising on council assets, saying that restriction would have been undemocratic.
This week’s decision put an end to tender negotiations with yStop, an advertising agency based in Osborne Park that was the council’s initial preferred contractor.
The tender process will now re-start under the new guidelines.
Once appointed, the contractor will be responsible for providing the council’s general waste bins, bus shelters and bench seats and keeping them in good condition through maintenance, cleaning and graffiti removal.
In exchange, the contractor can sell advertising on them.