Sign of the times as council enforces advertising ban

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TRADERS on the Royal Mile have already begun flouting a controversial ban on advertising boards less than a month after it was introduced.

New figures show that five pavement signs, known as A-boards, have been confiscated by council officials from the High Street and Rose Street, with 20 warnings handed out since the new law was introduced on July 1.

On the first day of the ban, the council confiscated 15 boards on the Royal Mile and a further ten on Rose Street.

The ban was introduced in response to what the council said were public concerns about "street clutter" making it difficult to get around the Capital. Any retailers that flout the restrictions have their A-boards confiscated and must pay 50 to get them back.

The council has been accused of double standards, though, after some tour operators were allowed to keep their large advertising boards while others were not. Mike Ellis, the UK director of tour firm Sandeman's New Europe, which runs historical tours from the Royal Mile, said: "Our business and, to our knowledge, other businesses too, are already showing signs of suffering in the absence of A-board advertising, and we are particularly keen to understand on what basis the decisions taken have been taken and why. In particular, several of our competitors appear to be in the fortunate position of retaining advertising on the Royal Mile."

The council said established tour operators, such as Mercat Tours, had specific street traders licences for their advert boards, while other A-boards, such as the one outside the Bank Hotel, were on private property. A council spokesperson said: "We are continuing to monitor the Royal Mile and Rose Street and have confiscated a small number of A-boards since our initial clampdown.

"However, since the ban, there has been a positive impact to the streets in question, making them safer and more attractive for pedestrians and shoppers."

The move to ban advertising boards came after the council revealed plans to dictate what kind of shops operate on the Royal Mile in a bid to end what some say is its tacky image.

As the street's biggest landlord, it has the power to decide which tenants it leases to and what goods they are allowed to sell.

However, only around a quarter of the 40-odd souvenir shops on the street are owned by the council and it holds little sway over private landlords as long as they stick to planning rules.