New A board charges put on hold until after pandemic

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 9:29pm

By Keri Trigg - Local Democracy Reporter

New charges on businesses using advertising boards will not be brought in until the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, Shropshire Council has said.

A meeting of the authority’s Performance Management Scrutiny Committee heard that new A-board restrictions were needed to make cluttered town centre streets more accessible to people with visual impairments and other disabilities.

A series of new measures were proposed in a report by a committee sub-group, including  restrictions on the size, weight, style and positioning of A-boards, along with new charges to cover the cost of administrating and enforcing the new permit scheme.

But Councillor Joyce Barrow, who chaired the sub-group, told the committee that the report had been drawn up before the coronavirus crisis hit. She said in light of the current situation, it was proposed to delay the introduction of any new charges.

Councillor Andy Boddington, who represents Ludlow North, said bringing in charges next year would hit businesses as they start to recover.

He said: “Bringing in charges next April will be a kick in the teeth for businesses struggling to recover from the COVID-19 emergency.

“In Ludlow, the 2020 season has been cancelled. Everything has been cancelled. We will need a running start for the 2021 season.

“But the struggling businesses down the alleys and ginnels of Ludlow will have to stump up money just to advertise their wares.

“These proposals might work in Shrewsbury, but Ludlow isn’t paved with gold. Many of our traders are at the edge of existence.

“I think we should just concentrate on drawing up strong guidelines and asking traders to obey them, and if they don’t come up with the goods by next year we start putting in plans to charge them the year after.”

Councillor Gwilym Butler, portfolio holder for Communities, Place Planning and Regulatory Services said: “I don’t have any intention at this present moment to put any new charges on any businesses until we are well out of this pandemic.”

Councillor Butler said he would also like to see individual towns and parishes have the chance to opt out of the policy if they wished to do so, with the door left open for them to opt back in if desired in the future.

The committee agreed to send the report to be considered by the council’s Cabinet.

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