John McLellan: A sign that Edinburgh council doesn’t care about shops

A-boards in Edinburgh will now have to be made to fit a standard format.
A-boards in Edinburgh will now have to be made to fit a standard format.
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There’s an A-board in Wardlaw Street ... wasn’t that what The Jam sang in 1978? Ok, so the council’s plan for a city-wide ban on A-boards and other street advertising might not be an A-Bomb underneath small shopkeepers, but it certainly won’t help.

The idea is supported by the Royal National Institute for the Blind and will be backed by many pedestrians as they slalom round signs on busy streets, but a city-wide ban smacks of an approach designed for consistent implementation rather than discretion.

There is an argument that anything on the pavement is an obstruction, and it’s a lot easier just to ban them all than to have officers judging if a particular sign is a problem.

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The ban will follow this year’s consultation, but it’s hardly the kind of thing that would have people, to borrow a phrase, manning the barricades to oppose. And apart from a very limited and inconclusive test on a handful of city centre streets, there is little evidence to support the claim that the removal of street signage will not harm trade.

I have sympathy for newsagents, having pored over Evening News bills we hoped would entice people into the shops to buy a paper, which the shopkeepers hoped would turn into a paper, a pint of milk, a bar of Whole Nut and ten Embassy Regal.

It might not be a retail apocalypse, but for the corner shops fighting supermarket home deliveries, it’s a small signal the council isn’t that worried.

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