Obstructive shop signs a ‘nightmare’

Narrowgate in Alnwick.
Narrowgate in Alnwick.

Concerns have been raised about obstructive street furniture on pavements outside shops in Alnwick, with claims that it is putting people off from visiting the town.

The issue was raised by a resident during public question time at last Thursday’s town-council meeting.

She said that in some parts of Alnwick, A-boards which are put out by traders make life difficult for pedestrians, especially those with mobility issues.

Northumberland County Council has policies around street furniture to make paths safer and easier to negotiate.

For main pedestrian routes, there should be a minimum of two metres clear width of pavement and a desirable width of three-and-a-half metres.

For secondary pedestrian routes, the minimum clear width is one-and-a-half metres, preferably two. It covers items including A-boards, pavement cafés and goods for sale.

The resident said: “I have no objection with A-boards if the pavement is wide enough, but there are two specific areas where the boards are either enormous or the path is very narrow and old people, young people with buggies, or two pedestrians cannot get past.

“I have heard people say ‘what’s the point of coming to Alnwick’, because they can’t get past.

“It is a nightmare and if the county council policy is there, then the town council should be doing something about it.”

In response, Coun Martin Swinbank said: “The position of the town council is that we believe the policy should be enforced, but it’s not our job to enforce it, and it needs to be done in a sensitive sort of way.”

Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castled added: “It is not enforced terribly strongly, but we do have street inspectors whose task it is to advise traders if they appear to be breaching this rule.

“Enforcement is difficult, but if a trader is obviously and constantly breaching policy, something would be done.”

He said that consideration is being given to widen pavements in parts of the town.