POLITICAL parties are risking hundreds of pounds in fines after putting up election signs on public land despite repeated warnings.

Castle Point Council is having to spend so much time and money removing signs from highways, lampposts and other public land across the borough it has threatened to confiscate them and slap parties with fines of up to £90 per placard.

The cash-strapped authority has been inundated with complaints about the roadside placards, one of which obstructed the “Welcome to South Benfleet” sign, in Benfleet Road.

The council’s electoral services officer had previously warned parties about the signs which are prevalent across the borough.

Brenda Gutberlet, of Cedar Road, Canvey, said: “Echo readers in Castle Point must have noticed the proliferation of political adverts on council and public land.

“I contacted the council and was told it has instructed its contractor to remove these whenever they are illegally sited.

“Apparently all political parties were told through their election agents this was wrong.”

The warning told parties boards would be removed if placed on public land and would then be available to collect from Waterside Farmhouse.

But over-zealous activists appear to have ignored the warning and deputy returning officer Ann Horgan sent out a second email last Thursday, saying the signs would be confiscated until after the election and parties would be fined for every one removed.

In the email, seen by the Echo, the senior official said: “The council will not seek to recover cost of removal today, but after today the council will re-charge the political parties responsible for the boards or posters for their removal if found to be located on public land, highway land or on street furniture at a cost of £30 per board or poster.

“Should it be necessary to remove the boards or posters over the weekend or on a bank holiday the cost will be considerably higher, not less than £90 for each sign.”

Ukip has complained that many of its posters across the borough have been removed.

Conservative councillor Simon Hart has admitted removing Ukip boards from a field in Essex Way because, he claims, the Tory landowner had not given Ukip permission for it to be put up.

A contractor removed a Ukip sign from the Movie Starr cinema car park in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, owned by Ukip’s electoral agent, James Parkin, but put it back up once he was told it was private land.