Advertising board crackdown looms for angry Montpellier businesses
A CRACKDOWN on traders in Montpellier will mean the "vast majority" of shops in the area will be told they cannot place advertising boards on the pavement.
And even if they can, they will have to stump up £250 for the privilege.
Cheltenham Borough Council brought in a policy in April to reduce the number of unlicensed A-boards in the town on the grounds they were getting in the way of pedestrians and cluttering the street.
But businesses say they are crucial to attract customers.
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The authority has spoken to Montpellier Traders' Association ahead of writing to all businesses in the area with A-boards to let them know the crackdown is coming.
Under council rules, only premises which have no shop front at street level, for example a basement shop, or shops off the main thoroughfares are eligible for a licence and that rules out most businesses in Montpellier.
The situation has already ignited a backlash against the council.
Brian Crosby, owner of Brian Crosby Fine Art and Fine Frames in Montpellier Street, said: "The authorities seem to care more about cosmetics than businesses in their town. A-boards are vital to promote our businesses.
"I'd be more inclined to listen to them if they were if they asked how we're getting on, or if they were proposing other ideas to increase footfall in the area.
"They're treating local businesses with contempt."
Neetan Jain, from The Spa Pharmacy added: "We pay nearly £900 in rates every month yet we can't have A-boards outside.
"Bars along the street can have tables outside but our A-board is considered a risk. We've never had any accidents with it at all."
The premises which do qualify for a licence to display an A board on the street will have to apply, if they have not done so already.
A licence currently costs £250 for the first year and £150 in each subsequent year.
Louis Krog, licensing and business support team leader at the council, said: "We intentionally approached the association in the first instance prior to writing to businesses to allow sufficient time for businesses to consider their position and to take the appropriate action to remove unlicensed A-boards or to apply for consent where appropriate."
Businesses which refuse to pay for a licence but keep using their A-board will face prosecution.