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NIK sharply about advertising chaos in Poznań. Notification of the prosecutor's office is being prepared

05 of May '23

The Supreme Chamber of Control accuses Poznań Mayor Jacek Jaskowiak of tardy and inadequate action in the case of illegal advertising. It also points out that the City has been ineffective in collecting money for the use of public land occupied by advertising media. In a harsh statement on advertising chaos in Poznań, the NIK announces that it will notify the prosecutor's office.

The advertising chaos that has been degrading Poznań's public space for years has now hit the city authorities, who were said to have acted tardily and inefficiently in combating widespread advertising. Not only does Poznań still not have a so-called landscape resolution (passed with several years of delay in January, it was invalidated by the governor for formal reasons—we wrote about it here), it was supposed to fight ineffectively against illegally placed media, and ineptly solved the problem of managing advertising on bus shelters and advertising poles.

This is how the findings of the Supreme Chamber of Control, which investigated how the outdoor advertising market operated in Poznań between 2018 and 2022, and how it was controlled and managed (the activities of the City Hall, the Municipal Roads Authority and the almost entirely municipal company Międzynarodowe Targi Poznańskie were examined), can be summarized in a very nutshell. The Chamber presented the results of its annual work and post-inspection speeches on Tuesday, May 2.

reported out of helplessness

The notice to the NIK was submitted by community activist Tomasz Hejna, who for years has been efficiently and competently tracking down and combating manifestations of urban clutter, including advertising hoardings set up without permits. He has been documenting his activities and making them public for years on his Facebook profile Gemela Poznańska (gemela means a big mess in the Poznań dialect). He filed the notice when he discovered how many carriers there are in the city set up without permits, and the City—despite notifications—combats them ineffectively and does not collect fees for objects standing on city land.

The NIK auditors confirmed with their announcement that Hejna did the right thing. In their summary of the audit, they write, among other things, that:

"in Poznań, no systematic verification was provided of whether properties owned by the City were being illegally used for advertising purposes. This applied both to municipal properties and to the road strip [...] which was managed by ZDM [Municipal Road Administration—editor's note]. The Authority's activity was limited to responding to complaints and notices of illegal use for advertising purposes of municipal properties.

Impunity and three years

The NIK goes on to mention that in some cases, proceedings on notifications of illegal media were extremely protracted. They were started, for example, after six months (and in „extreme cases” even three years!) of notification. The City was also sluggishly supposed to deal with the collection of tax on property on which the carriers stood. NIK:

Proceedings were undertaken even in the last year of the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations on tax liability. This practice influenced the discontinuation of one-third of the proceedings conducted between 2018 and 2022, worth PLN 709.7 thousand. All of this contributed to the impunity of entities illegally placing advertisements in Poznań, as well as the lack of enforcement of fees owed to the City for the use of municipal property.

The Chamber then points to the omissions of the Office of the Municipal Conservator of Monuments, which was said to have failed to respond to advertisements placed without permits on monuments and in the conservation area. It also gets at the ZDM for inadequate monitoring of its subordinate areas. The Chamber also scores the City for its tardy actions towards owners of illegal media (the record time between the acceptance of a notification and response to it was... 1212 days!).

method for poles

Finally, the NIK is critical of the method that, according to the "presidential concept", the City adopted in 2018 in managing advertising on city bus shelters and advertising poles. By a decision of councilors at the time, the construction and maintenance of the shelters and the management of the media placed on them (at the time 100 percent city-owned) was transferred to the company Międzynarodowe Targi Poznańskie. NIK reports that:

The adoption of the objectionable [...] concept and its implementation resulted in financial losses and legal consequences.

NIK now announces that it will notify the prosecutor's office of a suspicion of a crime allegedly involving "failure to fulfill duties by the Municipal Conservator of Monuments and the Mayor of Poznań." The auditors also raise the issue of violations of public finance discipline at the Office, ZDM and the Municipal Transport Authority.

nothing about the positives?

How did the city authorities react? Poznań media publish a general statement by UMP spokeswoman Joanna Żabierek:

"The NIK's post-inspection statement contains only information about irregularities, while the whole range of positive actions is not disclosed in this document.

Once again, voices are also heard from the magistrate that the NIK's action is an element of political gamesmanship. Again, because in November, councilors from the opposition Law and Justice party attacked the mayor, using a preliminary version of the report (the City, ZDM and MTP later submitted comments to it, which, as the Office claims today, were included in "key areas"). It would be strange, by the way, if they did not take advantage of such an opportunity. However, the very essence of the report and its genesis are far from partisan politics. Hejna, who made the case, is not and was not affiliated with any political party or organization.

Poznan's magistrate should therefore wish as much determination as Hejna's in combating the advertising chaos. For now, without publicity, officials have put out for public review a new version of the landscape resolution, which, according to the Office's announcements, is to take into account the governor's objections that were behind the document's cancellation. Councilors would vote on the revised resolution before the summer recess.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast

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