Monday, 23 September 2019

Council set to limit number of A-boards outside businesses

Council set to limit number of A-boards outside businesses

BUSINESSES in Henley town centre could be restricted to one advertising board each in a crackdown by the town council.

Councillors are concerned about the growing number of boards in the streets and the obstruction they cause for pedestrians, particularly people with poor vision or in a wheelchair or pushing a child’s buggy.

It comes after an unofficial count by Frank Browne, from Rotherfield Greys, found a total 76 A-boards in the four main streets.

A meeting of the council’s town and community committee heard the issue was causing concern.

Valeria Alasia, speaking on behalf of the Henley Society, said that at least two premises had three
A-boards outside.

She said: “It’s a hazard to pushchairs and wheelchairs, almost like a chicane in some areas. It doesn’t seem to be in the minds of some retailers — they seem to think the area in front of their shop is theirs.”

Councillor Donna Crook, speaking as a member of the public, suggested limiting each business to one board.

“If you’re a blind person or in a wheelchair it’s quite difficult to navigate,” she said. “It’s quite dangerous.”

Deputy Mayor David Eggleton said he had moved A-boards off pavements where they were causing an obstruction.

He suggested having fingerposts at each end of the streets displaying the names of each business in that road, as happened in Oxford. These could be slid in and out and changed easily as businesses came and went.

“If that doesn’t work, it’s one board per person, one size, not these massive things that take up half the pavement,” added Councillor Eggleton. Councillor Michelle Thomas said: “Henley has got really narrow pavements. Sometimes you can’t even get two people walking side-by-side.

“I can understand if you’re down a side street and you’re trying to get someone in who’s walking down the main street.

“Other than that I think they are a waste of time.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “A-boards have grown and grown and they are now a problem.”

He said it was important to support retailers but businesses should promote themselves with swing signs instead.

He added: “The town council has an A-board so be careful of what you say.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who runs the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street, said she found the boards were useful as a “directional tool”.

She said she received trade from people who told her they had only visited because they had seen her A-board.

Councillor Glen Lambert said A-boards were supposed to be used to advertise something specific, such as a pub promoting its special of the day, and if this happened there shouldn’t be a problem.

He said the council should enforce a one-board-per-business rule as it was only a “tiny minority” who exceeded this.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said the obstruction of the pavement was a criminal offence under the 1835 Transport Act and should be reported to the police.

Town and community manager Helen Barnett said the proliferation of
A-boards was a problem in every town.

If the council received any complaints about a specific A-board a member of staff would talk to the trader.

Mayor Ken Arlett said: “The town council does have the authority from Oxfordshire County Council on A-boards and to tell shop owners what we wish and don’t wish.”

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