TRADERS FURIOUS AT BILLBOARD BAN

Owner of Fantoosh Fish with his A Board.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 5th Sept 2011.
Owner of Fantoosh Fish with his A Board.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 5th Sept 2011.

TRADERS are up in arms over council plans to blitz their billboards.

Businesess have until October 3 to clear advertising hoardings off the streets - but they claim the crackdown is “draconian” and an will penalise shop owners trying to make a living.

East Dunbartonshire Council recently agreed a zero tolerance approach to ‘a-boards’, claiming that they are unsightly and are dangerous to pedestrians who have to dodge them.

A snatch squad will be set up to remove them on sight and have them destroyed if they are not off the streets by the October deadline.

However, Andre Alexander, who runs the popular Fantoosh fishmonger in Milngavie Precinct, called on the council to think again.

He said: “There should have been consultation over this. The health and safety issue is a complete red herring - it comes down to aesthetics. We paid £500 to have the sign done - all we’re trying to do is attract attention, and to add to the vibrancy of the town centre.

“This isn’t an easy time for businesses. There are empty shops in shopping centres across Scotland.

“There should be a process where these signs can be authorised but there isn’t one. I would use the word draconian to describe how the council has gone about this. It can be construed as an attack on traders.

“This needs to be fought - all my customers have been very supportive of us over this.”

Other Milngavie traders contacted the Herald - but asked not to be named for fear they may fall foul of the council in the future.

One said: “This is an attack on our livelihood. Yes, there are some that are unsightly, but there must be some other way of controlling them. This is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Ian Lavrie runs Townhead Carpets and is the chair of the Milngavie Business Improvement District (BID), a partnership arrangement which would see local businesses clubbing together to invest in Milngavie Precinct.

Businesses are voting on whether to proceed with the BID plan, and the results of the ballot will be known on October 6.

Mr Lavrie said that the key to beating the ad board ban will be to vote through the BID, and said: “We appreciate the importance of the a-boards to traders, though we do appreciate that some are unsightly and unwelcome.

“If the BID is successful, then this is something we will take on board and we will be able to take the council head on over this and get it resolved.”

David Devine, head of Roads and Neighbourhood Services said: “The zero tolerance approach to sandwich boards is to address the hazards and risks to pedestrians and motorists from the dangers posed by clutter on the streets and precincts. This approach aims to make roads, footways and precincts safer.

“The council has a duty of care to ensure roads and pedestrian thoroughfares are safe and sandwich boards can pose a hazard to pedestrians in particular.”