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Street clutter clampdown delayed

PUBLISHED: 09:25 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 03 July 2010

Plans to expand a Cromer street clutter clampdown to the rest of north Norfolk this New Year have been put on ice while officials battle with problem advertising boards.

Plans to expand a Cromer street clutter clampdown to the rest of north Norfolk this New Year have been put on ice while officials battle with problem advertising boards.

A new licensing system aimed at controlling tables, chairs and goods on the pavements was introduced at the resort on January 1, 2009.

It was hoped to roll it out to other towns at the start of 2010, but that may not now happen until the summer, or beyond, because of trouble with advertising signs.

The new rules affecting street cafés and goods displays were generally working well, said Chris Cawley, environmental health manager at North Norfolk District Council.

But there were a growing number of complaints about unlicensed “A-boards” - which he felt were a sign of the recession.

“Traders are trying to drag in every customer, and are putting out signs in areas where they should not be - and where they are causing problems.

“Accidents are happening. People are falling over them and there has been significant feedback, particular-ly from the disabled and those with mobility scooters,” he added.

The council would open talks with other authorities in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and South Norfolk to find a more comprehensive way of tackling the issue. So plans to expand the Cromer scheme to the rest of the district were being put off from today's planned start date.

Cromer businesses with existing licences would have them renewed for free if there were no major changes in circumstances.

The “café culture” element would be the same for other towns, but the advertising element needed further work - involving talks with traders and interest groups such as disabled associations.

Traders thought A-boards caught people's eyes, but they were causing problems, said Mr Cawley, not helped by the fact they were unsecured, meaning they were kicked around and blown over or across pavements.

It was a complaint about an A-board that prompted the original clampdown at Cromer - which initially caused a furore featuring George the Fat Plastic Butcher as a campaign figurehead before the situation was resolved.

If they were a “real stumbling block” there might have to be complete ban on such signs, added Mr Cawley.

But he said there was a need to “understand the concerns of highway users and traders and see if there is a compromise.”

Chamber of Trade president Sue Brown agreed that unlicensed A-boards could not be condoned, and were a safety issue.

But she understood the concerns of businesses down side streets who were just trying to make customers aware they were there.

Better fixed signage could help, and the chamber was already in talks to provide a wall-mounted board at Bond Street.


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