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End this High Street hazard
CALLS are being made for a crackdown on A-boards in Worcester – amid claims dozens of them are “cluttering” the High Street.
It is illegal to display the advertising boards in the High Street, and elsewhere permission should be sought from Worcestershire County Council. But the council has in recent years chosen to turn a blind eye to the boards and now admits it has no records on the number in the city. Councillor Lynn Denham, who represents the city centre, said she counted “at least 50” between Foregate Street and the cathedral.
“I was contacted by a resident and at first you may think it’s an exaggeration, so I started to count them for myself,” she said.
“There were at least 50. It’s quite a serious issue as these boards can be a hazard to pedestrians and the partially sighted, they are causing real clutter.”
Former Worcester mayor Councillor Allah Ditta, who also represents the area, said: “You walk around Worcester and the sheer clutter you see from these boards makes it so untidy.
“There doesn’t seem to be any regulation on it, no rules, and for disabled people or children it can be a real problem.
“It’s something we’ve got to look at again because they are all over the place.”
By law A-boards are illegal on public highways, including Worcester High Street, but County Hall does not actively enforce it as council bosses want businesses to flourish.
Back in 2007 it ordered them to be taken off the streets, but since then the council has allowed more and more to reappear in an attempt to help traders fight off the economic downturn.
Talks are now due to take place over how to satisfy businesses, shoppers coming into the city and critics alike.
Adrian Field, of Worcester’s Business Improvement District, the body representing traders, said: “We would welcome a meeting as we’d like to give a business perspective, and a perspective from people visiting the city.
“You get shops in areas such as Charles Street and Copenhagen Street chaining A-boards to bollards or any type of furniture in the High Street, which doesn’t go down well with businesses there.
“But it’s an emotive subject and one we wouldn’t feel comfortable policing.”
The county council says it judges each A-board request on a case-by-case basis.
Coun John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “The council is committed to helping local business but we would remind owners A-boards should be kept as close to their shop frontage as possible.
“They should not cause an obstruction to people, particularly those who are disabled or less able, especially in narrower sections of pavement.”