As thousands of summer visitors flock to Scarborough to enjoy the beach and facilities along the seafront, we have again seen a seasonal rise in complaints about obstructions to pavements caused by advertisement boards put out by traders.
The County Council takes a tolerant approach to ‘A’ boards, because it is supportive of business and realises the importance of traders being able to promote goods and services. However, it must balance this against the safety of pedestrians. Obstructions can cause problems for many people, including those with visual impairments, wheelchair or mobility scooter users and families with pushchairs.
In June, highways officers hand-delivered letters to all south bay seafront businesses asking them to consider pedestrians when deciding what to place on the footway.
Traders were reminded that:
- Children’s rides or other obstructions may not be placed near to where pedestrians wait on the pavement to cross the road. This may be at islands or at traffic lights.
- Advertisement boards, of any size, may not be placed adjacent to metal guardrails or bollards.
- Traders should avoid creating a “tunnel” or “chicane” effect for pedestrians by placing numerous objects in a staggered pattern on the footway.
Traders were urged to consider the items their neighbours placed and to work with them to group items in a way that minimised obstructions.
County Councillor Janet Jefferson, Member for Castle Division and a local business owner, said: “The highway authority has the power to remove all advertisement boards and obstructions from the footway, but in the interests of economic prosperity we prefer to tolerate those that do not cause an obstruction if, on balance, they pose minimal risk to pedestrians and if no complaints are received from the public.”
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, added: “Every summer season, we see a rise in complaints about ‘A’ boards from members of the public. Scarborough is a premier resort and we want it to flourish. We are trying to maintain access for the public to enhance the town’s prosperity and want to work with traders to achieve this, but some traders hinder these efforts by turning the footway into an obstacle course.
“Footpaths cluttered with obstacles like ‘A’ boards are not attractive to shoppers, who prefer to move around the town centre streets without barriers. We want to ensure easy access for all visitors, including, for example, people with mobility or sight issues or families with young children.
“We would prefer not to spend public money on this issue, and we won’t need to if traders work with us. We are tolerant of advertising materials on the pavement as far as possible, but we have to draw a line when it becomes an issue of safe access for the public.
“We are asking traders to work with us by removing those boards and other obstructions that are causing most concern. If traders do not remove them, we will remove them to the local highways office where they will be available for collection.”
The highway authority can recover the cost of removal, so whether or not owners choose to collect their signs there will be a charge for any signs removed.