Edinburgh businesses angered by on-street advertising board ban

Boards on the Royal Mile's footpath. Pic: Andrew Stuart/NW
Boards on the Royal Mile's footpath. Pic: Andrew Stuart/NW
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A BUSINESS group has attacked Edinburgh City Council over its unwillingness to take concerns over loss of trade seriously following a ban on A-boards.

In November, the council rolled out a ban of on-street advertising boards in an effort to clean up streets.

Since then, environmental wardens have reported good compliance. During the enforcement phase, 16 final warnings were issued, giving businesses two days to remove the boards – with all bar one complying.

But the regional chief of small businesses has hit out at the authority, labelling its response to concerns as “generally unhelpful”.

Garry Clark, east of Scotland development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “I have had reports of drops in expected turnover and in footfall since the ban was introduced. I have also had personal experience of trying to raise issues on behalf of member businesses and the response from the council has been pretty poor and generally unhelpful.

“I had hoped that engagement and support for businesses would have been better. Yes, in the main businesses have been compliant with the ban but many have serious concerns over its long-term effects and we would urge the council to give urgent consideration to a compromise solution, particularly for businesses situated off main thoroughfares, in closes, and in basement and upstairs premises.

“If the council fails to respond to genuine concerns, then the impact on businesses could magnify over the coming months.”

Transport and environment vice convener, Cllr Karen Doran, said: “Since the introduction of the ban on temporary on-street advertising I’m delighted to see businesses complying with the changes, helping us to create more welcoming, clutter-free streets for everyone.

“Obviously there is still work to do to make sure the message is heard, and our environmental wardens have been visiting businesses to provide information and ensure any temporary advertising is removed from outside premises.

“But what is clear is that this ban will make a huge difference for people with mobility issues getting around Edinburgh, and it’s a real step in the right direction toward creating a truly equal, accessible city.”

An opposition councillor has reported that some businesses have allegedly suffered a five per cent decline in trade since the ban was rolled out.

Conservative Andrew Johnston said: “It is troubling to hear that a well-intentioned policy is already affecting business. That is why Conservatives demanded that the policy have a 12-month review clause built in.”

David Spaven, convenor of campaign group Living Streets Edinburgh, has welcomed the ban, saying: “Following a long-running campaign by Living Streets, we were delighted when the council took the bold initiative to ban A-boards.

“This has been a real success on the ground with one of the biggest sources of street clutter largely swept away.”