New county guidance for advertising signs

Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.

Proposed new guidance has been produced by the county council in relation to a major issue raised by blind and partially sighted people.

A-boards have been used for a number of years in an attempt to attract shoppers and pedestrians to business properties.

But in recent years they have grown in number and the authority says it has received an increased number of complaints about the outdoor advertising items.

Members of the Northumberland (Low Vision) Action Group (NAG) have repeatedly raised concerns.

Following discussions with the group, RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), business bodies and other organisations, the council has sought to find a way to continue supporting the local economy while ensuring all residents can use streets and paths without obstruction.

A covering letter by its infrastructure manager Ruth Bendell says rather than authorising items such as A-boards and goods displays, it will ‘prioritise enforcement of unauthorised obstructions on the highway’.

Relevant groups and organisations, including parish and town councils, have been asked to comment on the proposed guidance.

In response to the document, a NAG spokesman said: “We welcome the council’s commitment to help blind and partially sighted people maintain their independence by being able to walk along the streets in the towns of Northumberland.

“Discussions have been protracted but we now hope that at long last some action will be taken.

“However, for blind and partially sighted people there are a range of barriers to independence.

“We would like to see all A-boards disappear from the streets of towns in Northumberland.

“We are concerned that the proposed guidance is somewhat woolly, using words like ‘reasonable’,’possible’ and ‘appropriate’ and feel that this may lead to disputes between shopkeepers and the council.”