From 20 November 2017 the new policy and rules for the placing of A-boards will come into effect and be enforced.
The inappropriate siting of advertising boards (A-boards) and signs can cause obstructions for pedestrians, particularly those who are mobility and/or sight impaired, those using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and push-chairs, as well as for cyclists.
The council wants the city to be both attractive and easy to use for all, and there is a need to set out what is considered acceptable, in order to safeguard disabled people. To do this, the council needs to regulate against over proliferation
of A-boards and inappropriate positioning.
The council has adopted a policy to create a street environment that is not unduly cluttered, but that complements premises based trading while being sensitive to the needs of residents, that provides diversity and consumer choice, and seeks to enhance the character, ambience and safety of the city.
What is an A-board?
The policy relates to advertising boards (A-boards) and similar advertising structures. The definition includes free standing structures used for the purpose of advertising (including directional signs, flags and information signs designed to be placed on the ground).
The policy does not apply to:
- The use of A-boards on private property;
- The placing of tables and chairs on the highway;
- General and Sunday Market on Market Square;
- Street trading and/or other licensed activities;
- Banners or bicycles parked on footways and/or chained to railings/street furniture;
The rules for A-boards
If the conditions laid out in this policy are met, one Advertising Board may be permitted per business premises. Where multiple occupancy premises share joint access or frontage, only one Advertising Board will be allowed per frontage.
- An unobstructed footway width of 1.5 metres must be maintained. Permanent structures (eg litter bins bollards, street furniture, pedestrian crossings, etc.) as well as the layout and geography of an area (eg slopes, steep gradients) must be taken into account in placing an Advertising Board. If the minimum width cannot be maintained then Advertising Boards cannot be placed on the highway.
- Advertising Boards must be easily detected and negotiated by the visually impaired and those with mobility difficulties.
- The Advertising Board must be placed against the building line or boundary of the property and should not obstruct access to statutory undertakers’ plant and equipment.
- The Advertising Board or advertising structure must not obstruct sight lines of vehicle drivers or pedestrians.
- Where a business has its own private forecourt any Advertising Board must be placed wholly within this forecourt.
- Advertising Boards on grass verges, roundabouts, road safety refuges and central reservations are not permitted.
- If premises has licensed tables and chairs area, then any Advertising Board must be contained with the agreed seating area and not outside the area.
- The Advertising Board must be two sided or otherwise free standing, causing an ‘A’ shape or easel effect. Other designs which achieve the same purpose, such as a board suspended from a top rail within a frame, will also be acceptable.
- The Advertising Board must be robust and self weighted. The use of sand bags to stabilise signs is not permitted.
- The Advertising Board must be of sufficient weight or design to prevent it being blown over in the wind. It should not be on trailer wheels or other trailer type device. Rotating cylinders and boards leant against walls etc. will not be permitted.
- Advertising Boards should be no larger than a standard A1 size (841mm x 594mm) in any dimension and no higher than 1100mm above ground level including any support.
- The Advertising Board or advertising structure must be in good condition and appear professionally made, eg proper sign writing, painting/printing. Offensive content will not be permitted.
- All Advertising Boards must be temporary in nature so they can easily be removed.
- The Advertising Board must be removed from the street when the property is closed or when street cleansing or street works are being undertaken.
- The Advertising Board may not be chained, tied or fixed to lamp posts, bollards, trees, seats or other items of street furniture.
- The Advertising Board must not be fixed into or on the highway, no excavation or other works will be permitted to install or remove them.
- Any Advertising Board may need to be removed during severe weather, events, to permit maintenance or street works, or for other reasonable cause. Any such request or any other additional requirements requested by the council, the police or emergency services, including immediate removal of any Advertising Board, must be complied with immediately.
- Any permission granted under this policy does not transfer liability or responsibility from the owner of the Advertising Board to the council or to any other person, whether the Highways Act 1980 or otherwise.
- Anyone placing an Advertising Board on the highway or public land must have a minimum of £5million pounds public liability insurance cover that covers the Advertising Board.
Relocation or Removal
- Where an Advertising Board creates a hazard for pedestrians and in particular disabled people or those who are visually impaired, the owner must relocate or remove the sign; this duty includes temporary hazards, for example when an Advertising Board a sign being blown over in exceptionally strong winds or has been moved by a third party.
- Where an owner is informed by the council that their Advertising Board has been identified as a hazard, they must respond reasonably and promptly by removing or relocating the sign to ensure that the hazard is removed.
- Failure to remove hazards may result in permission to place an Advertising Board on the highway or public land being removed
Where an A-board is identified as breaching the policy, the business will be informed in writing by the council and asked to comply (service of formal letter by hand).
A-boards that continue to breach the policy will be removed by the council following 48 hours of the formal notice. The board can be collected for a fee of £70. Any A-board not collected within 28 days following seizure will be disposed of. Full details of the enforcement process can be found within the policy.
Repeat breaches by businesses, within six months of a previous breach, would result in the service of a formal warning letter advising that the council could undertake legal action against the business. Repeat offences by businesses, with more than six months since a previous breach, would, in essence, ‘restart’ the enforcement process.
The decision to approve the policy was made at the Community Services Scrutiny Committee on 29 June 2017. A public consultation on the proposed consultation draft A-Board and Signs policy took place between 20 February and 30 April 2017 – see the consultation results [PDF].
Implementation of the policy
Following the consultation, a common response from businesses was that an initial education period was necessary as part of the implementation for the new policy, with formal enforcement action not taking place until the end of the initial education period.
The council have therefore committed to an initial four month education and enforcement amnesty period that will be undertaken in the run up to the policy being enforced.
The education period for policy runs from 17 July to 19 November 2017, during which time all city businesses will be visited and advised of how the new policy will affect them. Enforcement action on the policy begins from 20 November 2017.