Edinburgh traders call for citywide a-board ban to be 'revised' and permit scheme set up

Fat Bob has stood outside Findlays butcher shop in Portobello for 30 years. Picture: TSPL
Fat Bob has stood outside Findlays butcher shop in Portobello for 30 years. Picture: TSPL
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Capital traders call for A-board ban to be tailored

Traders have called for a city-wide advertising board ban to be halted and replaced with a permit system to ensure small firms are not being disadvantaged.

Edinburgh City Council rolled out a citywide ban of temporary on-street advertising in November 2018 to “improve pedestrian accessibility and safety for everyone”.

Transport and environment committee members will decide on Thursday whether or not to extend the blanket ban.

The 12-month review reveals that 222 traders have been told to remove a-boards with 193 “complying immediately”. Of 29 formal notices issued, 14 structures have been confiscated. But businesses fear the ban is impacting on turnover and footfall, with some calling for it to be halted.

Council officials held a meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Feedback from traders at the meeting included that “the citywide approach could be revised to target only the narrower/busier streets.

Garry Clarke, FSB development manager for the east of Scotland, said: “The council may be hailing the A-board ban as a success but a year on, many businesses are continuing to feel the impact that the removal of a major advertising route is having. The most commonly affected businesses are those in basement premises, in lanes, or in side streets adjoining a main road and some of these businesses have told the FSB that the drop in turnover since November last year has been upwards of £2000 per month, as well as lost growth opportunities.”

He added: “Businesses do understand the need for accessibility and more attractive streets but other cities manage to reach a workable compromise with responsible local businesses which preserves the benefits that A-boards can bring in terms of footfall.

“Used properly, these boards can add character to the city and can bring a significant boost to small businesses and their capacity to create and preserve local jobs. It’s time that councillors took full account of views of businesses who have used A-boards.”

The council has agreed that “written guidance will be monitored and updated”.

Last year, the Evening News battled to save Fat Bob, who has stood outside Findlays butcher shop in Portobello High Street for 30 years, being banned.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “We appreciate the range of feedback received from businesses and other organisations, including ideas on how the ban might be amended or improved.

“While we have considered comments suggesting a permit or area-based system, lessons learned from previous pilot projects have confirmed that these approaches would not deliver maximum benefits. A citywide ban offers greater clarity and fairness to all businesses, while reducing obstructions for pedestrians, creating accessible streets which have been welcomed by equalities organisations.”

Green councillors have called for an investigation into extending the ban to clear items displayed outside of shops.

Green Cllr Claire Miller said: “The next challenge will be to extend this to the huge displays of products outside some shops with extremely narrow pavements, because this is an unfair use of space which is out of step with the a-board ban. That’s why I’ve called for enforcement of these rules to make space for disabled people, for buggies and prams, and space for everyone to comfortably get around.”

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