SIGN WARS: Trader accuses council of ‘killing businesses’ with rules over road-side signs

SMALL businesses in Fenland are being killed off by rules forcing them to remove road-side advertising signs, a trader has claimed.

Lorraine Stanley, who runs used furniture store Loki, in Oldfield Lane, Wisbech, was told to take down three signs by Fenland District Council this month.

She said: “I put the signs up because it’s a dead end road. It was just to show people where we were. I would put them up in the morning and take them down at night.

“I was made to take them down and then people thought I’d sold my business because there weren’t any signs.”

Ms Stanley also accused the council of using the regulations in an attempt to make money - an allegation the council denies.

“The garage next to me got told to take their sign down as well,” she said. “They have contacted the council and applied for planning permission, which is costing �200.

“It’s not just to do with distracting road users, it’s to do with making money. It seems if you pay enough, the signs aren’t a distraction any more.

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“It really is killing businesses.”

A council spokesman said: “It is not a question of us trying to make money. Any business has to gain consent to display signs or advertisements.

“If it doesn’t have that consent, we have a responsibility to seek to have any signs regularised.

“The fee that is payable varies depending on the nature of the sign; for most applications of this kind it is �95.”

Businessman Michael Day was told to take down signs advertising his newly-opened Orchard Tea Room, in Redmoor Lane, Wisbech, last week. He said removing them would cost him custom and even forced him to consider closing.

Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, has promised a review of enforcement action against all businesses displaying signs.

He said: “We must allow businesses to advertise their location and nature of business in an aesthetically pleasing way.

“We must also take into account road safety issues.”