City Centre Partnership seeking A-boards compromise

A GROUP charged with promoting Chichester’s city centre has said forcing businesses to remove their A-boards is not the way forward.

As reported in last week’s Observer, members of Chichester District Council’s planning committee have voted to take action against traders who use A-boards in the city centre.

However, chairman of the City Centre Partnership Andrew Finnamore said comments made by officers and councillors during last week’s debate made it seem like the issue had been ‘kicked into the long grass’.

“The problem created with A-boards is not the A-boards per se, but that the numbers have got out of hand,” said Mr Finnamore.

“Properly managed, the use of these boards can be constructive, and some see them as a sign of a vibrant, buzzing city.

“Equally, without control and proper policy, the boards are a danger to those of partial sight and restricted mobility – so as with all matters in the public domain, we need to find a considered and manageable policy.

“If it is not considered and it can’t be managed because of manpower or funds, then the policy is flawed.”

Legal agreement

As the planning authority, the district council currently has final say on the removal of A-boards.

However, in a statement released this week, the partnership said it did not agree enforcement was the way forward and, if a legal agreement could be reached, was in a position to manage A-boards instead.

A spokeswoman said the partnership ‘firmly believes’ A-boards should be licensed in some areas and banned in others.

City centre manager Kim Long said: “As a discussion partner on this subject, we would hope that there is still room to reach a compromise solution which is commercially viable for the retailers, commercially viable for the council to implement, takes accessibility and the safety and appearance of our city into account – and makes the process tidier and more efficient for all concerned.”

Mr Finnamore added: “Whilst there has been no firm consensus yet, we are likely to move towards a policy that restricts the use of A-boards in the main streets and a managed removal, over time, of those that sit at the entrance to secondary streets,” said Mr Finnamore.

“The secondary streets have suffered disproportionately during the recession and will therefore see investment, that will help alleviate the lack of visibility that the A-boards offer. This investment will be managed by the partnership in collaboration with city, district and local authorities.”