Clamp down planned on advertising boards

Plans to crack down on excessive street clutter have been welcomed by Berwick Town Council.

Friday, 9th September 2016, 07:30 am
Concerns have been raised about excessive street clutter in Berwick.

Northumberland County Council is planning to step up its enforcement of unauthorised obstructions on the highway.

Cllr Anne Forbes, speaking at Monday’s town council meeting, said: “This is a real pet hate of mine in Berwick. At times it’s like the wacky races whenyou’re trying to get around all the clutter, especially for those with walking aids or buggies.

“There are now certain places which people which can’t get but it’s not just advertising boards. Where have all these tables and chairs come from? Honestly, they are all across the pavement. It’s especially bad on market days. It’s difficult to get down the street.”

Cllr Gordon McLean added: “There has to be legal implications for obstruction of the highway. Northumberland County Council needs to deal with this because it’s getting worse by the day. and somewhere along the line there could be a bad accident because someone has had to step off the pavement.”

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Cllr Hazel Bettison was also critical of advertising banners on railings at various parts of the town, most notably Golden Square.

She also objected to the promotion of events and businesses from outwith the town.

“I don’t think they should be for advertising businesses – they should only be for promoting events,” she said.

However, Cllr Joe Lang felt it was important to strike the right balance.

“I think the mood of the room is that we support compliance that is not over-zealous,” he said. “I personally think that seats outside cafés add to the animation of the street and make the area more attractive to visitors.

“I would hate to see a blanket ban on them but the important thing is that there are very clear guidelines on what constitutes an obstruction and what doesn’t and where people are able to beat those guidelines that is fine.”

Town councillors suggested a visit by officers for a walkabout could be a good idea.

Ruth Bendell, county council infrastructure manager, said: “For many years the use of sandwich boards and A-boards has been a popular way of attracting shoppers. This practice has continued over the years and is still seen as a positive way of supporting the local economy. However, as our streets have become busier, we are seeing an increased number of complaints about this type of advertising as well as other obstructions which make journeys along the footpath quite challenging.

“The council is committed to supporting and working with local businesses to grow the local economy, and understands that businesses and venues wish to promote and advertise their services and products to as many potential customers as possible.

“However, the local authority also has a responsibility to ensure the public can use the streets and footways within the area safely and without obstruction. It is proposed that rather than authorising items such as A-boards and goods displays,we will prioritise enforcement of unauthorised obstructions on the highway.”