Businesses warn A-board ban could be '˜nail in coffin'

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the Capital's decision to outlaw pavement advertising boards as heralding safer streets across the city.
The Royal Mile is allegedly  swimming in 'A'  Style advertising  boards.The Royal Mile is allegedly  swimming in 'A'  Style advertising  boards.
The Royal Mile is allegedly swimming in 'A' Style advertising boards.

But business leaders warned the A-boards were vital for many firms’ survival and the ban could force some to close.

The city council’s transport and environment committee agreed last week to introduce a total ban on the boards on the grounds they were an obstruction for pedestrians.

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A dedicated team will be set up at a cost of £100,000 to enforce the ban over the first 12-18 months.

Campaign group Living Streets said they were delighted with the “bold” decision.

The group’s convener David Spaven said: “A-boards have been turning Edinburgh’s pavements into obstacle courses, and that’s been bad news for residents, workers, visitors and tourists alike.

‘Two years ago we undertook street audits in conjunction with Tollcross Community Council, and we found the pavement clutter was so bad we began pressing the council to undertake a major review – so we’re thrilled our work has led to this great opportunity to transform the streets. Banning A-boards is by far the most progressive walking measure ever introduced by the council.”

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He said the new policy would only be fully effective if it was properly enforced. “We’re very pleased a dedicated team of enforcement officers is to be appointed to help deliver a much clearer and safer environment for pedestrians across the city.”

However, the Federation of Small Businesses said the ban – due to come into effect in the autumn – could spell the end for some firms.

FSB spokesman Garry Clark said: “We have a lot of members who are very angry about this. For many businesses it’s the only way to advertise themselves.

“If you’re in a basement somewhere like Stockbridge, or you’re down a close or on the upper floor of a building, A-boards can be the only way of alerting people to your existence, where you are and what you’re offering.

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“People don’t use them lightly – they cost a lot of money and they can be vandalised.”

He said the council had mentioned looking for solutions for affected businesses. “We would be happy to work with them on that. But it’s a bad decision, especially the announcement they are spending £100,000 on enforcement. That’s £100,000 that could be better spent on support for businesses.”

A submission sent by the FSB to the council warned a blanket ban would be a serious blow to struggling small businesses and could even be the “final nail in the coffin” for some.

Committee convener Lesley Macinnes said she appreciated businesses’ concerns.

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“We are committed to maintaining a thriving local economy and now intend to work with businesses to investigate alternative advertising solutions. This will include the exploration of bespoke solutions for harder to reach premises and businesses with no on-street presence.

“The decision to ban all temporary on-street advertising structures is about creating safer, more accessible streets which ultimately should benefit all members of society.”

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