New electric billboards – part of Birmingham City Council’s fund-raising plans – have been unveiled over Broad Street .

Advertising screens, promoting new Will Smith film After Earth, now look down from the link bridge between the ICC and Hyatt Hotel as part of a deal to raise at least £1.3 million a year for the city council.

The screens have proved controversial, with critics claiming they will turn Birmingham’s roadways into cheap and tacky Las Vegas style strips.

Will Smith
Will Smith
 

Other screens have so far been fitted at Dartmouth Circus, Holloway Circus and Small Heath Highway.

Many more are expected to follow at prime locations in the city.Council deputy leader Ian Ward said: “Substantial revenues can be generated from assets in prime locations, and we have a number of iconic and landmark sites that will attract interest from leading global advertisers.

“In tough economic times, it made sense to look at a proposal like this, taking advantage of the fact the city council owns many key assets passed by thousands of people on a daily basis.

”The ten-year deal with advertising firm Signature Outdoor was first signed two years ago. Objections from the planning committee in December, 2011, saw the roll-out stalled as the first batch were refused.

These have since been amended and approved. Former committee chairman Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) still believes the screens are tacky.

He said: “I don’t want to see our city centre looking like the main road through a mid-western American town littered with advertising. It is bad for the city.

”The city council will earn £13 million over ten years, plus a share of profits.

Steve George, Managing Partner at Signature Outdoor, added: “The net result is a terrific income stream for the city and the building of a world-class digital network that has been acclaimed by regional, national and international companies and is fast-becoming a major tool in their marketing strategies in the city.”