To mums with pushchairs and wheelchair users, they are sometimes a safety hazard, while for businesses A-boards are another way of attracting customers through the door.
For years St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been looking into how best to tackle the issue of A-boards, recognising the needs of businesses are finely balanced against the safety risks and visual impact of large numbers of A-boards cluttering shopping areas.
Now the council believes it has the answer. From spring next year, it proposes to introduce a system of enforcement meaning any posters, illuminated signs, or A-boards will need the council’s planning consent.
Those that do not have this consent will be invited either to apply for it, or to remove their piece of advertising. If they refuse, the council can, under the Outdoor Advertisement Regulations 2007, remove the A-boards or other items of unpermitted advertising. The regulations also gives the council powers to prosecute in the magistrates court where it is deemed suitable.
Cllr Terry Clements, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for Planning and Transport said: “This approach will be consistent and fair to all. We are not saying that a business cannot have an A-board, but they will have to apply to the council for permission. The same rules will be applied to every business including charity shops. There will be a level playing field for all.
“By doing this, the council can ensure that mums with pushchairs, wheelchair users, people who are visually impaired, and other people, are able to walk about our towns and shopping areas safely, without the risk of them colliding into one of these boards or being forced to walk out into the road.
“It gives the council control over the clutter of signs that can sometimes damage not only the character of an area, but also the footfall that traders naturally crave. At the same time it strikes the balance by recognising that these signs, posters or illuminated signs have a part to play in helping our shops and businesses attract new customers and grow their income.”
A report outlining the proposal will go to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee next Wednesday (22). Subject to committee approval, the council will then consult with OurBuryStEdmunds, One Haverhill, and other trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce, before seeking cabinet approval later this year.