Play fair over A1 sign rules

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PARISH councillors have claimed that the rules governing advertising signs on the A1 are inconsistent across different parts of the county.

And county councillor Pat Scott has ensured an application for a sign from Sunnyhills of Belford will go before the planning committee in the hope that the county council’s attitude to signs on the A1 can be debated.

At Thursday night’s meeting of Belford Parish Council, Northumberland County Council’s Area Development Manager North Peter Rutherford was asked about advertising consent and whether there were any guidelines that could be followed.

He admitted that advertising consent was governed by even more complicated guidelines than those for planning permission and also said that he still believes that trunk roads should get people from A to B as safely as possible.

“It’s still a quite restrictive policy on the trunk roads but more relaxed on A and B roads,” he added.

Coun Geoff O’Connell said: “We seem to have an ongoing problem with road signs in the former Berwick borough area.

“If you drive south down the A1, you start to see the signs that point out pubs or places to visit on the road.

“There seems to be very little guidance until you apply and then its refused.”

Mr Rutherford said: “It will take some time for the new authority to have consistent framework across the county, probably four or five years. In the meantime, we are having to look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

Coun O’Connell said: “We are trying to attract tourism and we are trying to get rural employment up. Nobody knows what the guidance is but if it exists, could we have a look at it?”

The application from Sunnyhills of Belford is an amended application after lengthy discussions with the Highways Agency over a satisfactory design.

Coun O’Connell highlighted that in this case where public money (from One North East) had been invested in the business, it made no sense not to support them, especially as a major employer in the village.

Coun Chris Rosby said: “Where this money has been put in, we don’t want to help it go bust.”