War on shop A’ boards
INDEPENDENT traders in Ely are outraged after the county council decided to take tough action and told shopkeepers their advertising street boards would be confiscated unless they were removed. Traders were informed by a highways supervisor on Tuesday
INDEPENDENT traders in Ely are outraged after the county council decided to take "tough action" and told shopkeepers their advertising street boards would be confiscated unless they were removed.
Traders were informed by a highways supervisor on Tuesday that the boards are illegal and could result in injury to pedestrians.
"It's the council being petty," said Gary Thornhill, of Ely Kitchen Studios, in High Street Passage.
"You've got to run with the law, but it seems that they're trying to put traders out - we have to let people know where we are."
He said he was told that if he did not take down signs from outside his shop and in nearby Market Street, then council employees would act quickly to remove them.
Christine Marston, of Lollipop Animation, also in High Street Passage, has refused to remove the shop's board.
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"If they do take it away then we will have to reclaim it," she said.
"Hopefully it won't come to that, but the sign is our property and it has been made at our expense."
She added that if the council removes all advertising, then there should be permanent signs put up in High Street Passage, similar to those in the Cloisters Shopping Centre, telling people what shops are there.
"We had two customers yesterday from Skegness, who said they wouldn't know we were here if it weren't for the signs," she said.
"If small businesses are to succeed then they need advertising, and if towns want small businesses, rather than the same shops as every high street, the council shouldn't be doing this."
Mrs Marston said she would write a letter of complaint.
Her sentiments were echoed by Paula Haynes, who runs Sienna in Market Street.
"I think it's wrong - the council should be encouraging business rather than taking it away," she said.
"It increased business when I put the boards out, and I was very careful to make sure the mobility units could get past easily."
A council spokesman said the visit from the highways supervisor was prompted by recent guidance from the office of deputy prime minister John Prescott to take "tough action" on advertising boards in the street.
"It's been illegal for the last two decades," he said.
"We regularly get complaints from people who are partially-sighted or blind, or people who use pushchairs or wheelchairs, and we have to do our duty to make sure they are moved."
He said the action had the full backing of East Cambridgeshire District Council.
"This has been the law for some time and businesses have flourished - It is in the interests of every business to provide customers with easy access to their shops.