PLANNING chiefs in Worcester have urged caution over a cull of A-boards in the city – amid fears it could “knock back businesses”.
Councillor Geoff Williams, chairman of the city’s planning committee, said serious attempts to crackdown on the advertising boards could damage traders unless it was tackled sympathetically.
As your Worcester News reported yesterday, calls are being made to examine the issue of the A-frames “cluttering” the High Street.
A recent count found more than 50 in the stretch leading from Foregate Street to the cathedral.
Coun Williams said: “These boards clearly have a purpose, so what we need to do is make sure a balance is struck.
“What we don’t want to do is knock back business. We need to get an idea of how much of an issue it is, because we need to balance the needs of the public with businesses.”
His view has been echoed by other leading political figures in Worcester, who say the issue will need to be examined delicately.
Councillor David Wilkin-son, deputy chairman of the planning committee, said: “I agree we ought to consider this issue, but we need to establish the facts.
“It’s about finding a balance, because on one hand we’ve got the traders who need to carry out their business, and on the other hand, unrest over street clutter and the need for people to get around.
“There is lots of anecdotal evidence over A-boards but we need to establish how much of a problem it is, only then can we look at what measures to take.”
Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “It’s a finely balanced issue.
People have contacted me who are concerned about the volume, or flanks of them in a row, and in those circumstances it is right to consider action.
“We need to help retailers in the city so there is a balance to strike – I would not like to see a purge, because that would be an over-reaction.”
He said the focus needs to be on A-boards “a long way from the shop” or those traders who set up lines of boards to entice shoppers off the High Street into side roads.
Talks are taking place over the coming weeks with Worcestershire County Council, which has responsibility for the highways.
In 2007 County Hall ordered the frames be removed from Worcester High Street, but decided to allow them to return about three years ago in response to the economic crisis.