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

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.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 7:00 am
A-boards in Edinburgh will now have to be made to fit a standard format.

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.