Better enforcement of A board ban needed –…

Better enforcement of A board ban needed – Council told

BRADFORD Council has been urged to do more to enforce a ban on A Boards that was introduced almost two years ago.

The ban on advertising boards on public highways was introduced in April 2018, and was brought in to make it easier for disabled people to navigate the District’s streets.

The ban was last week discussed by members of the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, where members were given an update on how the policy had been implemented.

They heard from several disabled residents, who said that while the ban initially led to streets becoming mostly free from advertising clutter – in many areas A boards had re-emerged on public highways.

Cavendish Street in Keighley and Ilkley Town Centre were highlighted as hot spots for businesses flouting A board rules.

Businesses to be fined £100 for displaying ‘A boards’ on public highways from April

Darren Badrock, Principal Engineer at Bradford Council, said around 400 businesses had been warned about A boards since the ban was introduced, and six “persistent offenders” had their A boards removed by Council officers.

However, he told members that due to budget pressures, any enforcement of A board offences had to be carried out while highway enforcement officers were on other duties.

Mr Badrock added: “The majority of businesses just need a gentle reminder, and once we’ve reminded them they take the A boards away.”

He pointed out that taking court action against persistent offenders could prove costly.

Susan Crowe, who represents the Bradford District Assembly Health and Wellbeing Forum on the committee, said she found it “offensive” that the cost of enforcing the ban was being considered, adding: “You’re saying in a round about way that the needs of disabled people are not important.

“On Cavendish Street in Keighley 15 businesses have A boards outside – some have two. In Ilkley town centre things are almost back to where it was pre-ban. In Saltaire they are creeping back too.

“To disabled people this is very important, it means these businesses are curtailing their right to safe footpaths.

“I would hope officers could be more pro-active rather than waiting for complaints to come in.”

Mr Badrock said officers would tackle businesses who placed A boards on public highways, but there was no allocated separate budget for this work. He added: “I think sometimes if there is a turnover of business then the new owners might not be aware. Maybe people think the issue has gone away.”

Chair of the committee Councillor Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose) said: “Clearly it’s that they’re just trying it on.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem) questioned why the boards cannot just be removed, adding: “Businesses are reading this report and laughing at us.”

Mr Badrock said the issue was not always clear cut – on roads like Leeds Road, strips of pavement that appear to be public highway in fact belonged to businesses. The Council had no control over A boards on private land.

The committee heard from a number of visually impaired residents who had supported the ban, but pointed out that the number of A boards had been steadily increasing after the initial drop off following the ban.

Councillor Dale Smith ( Cons, Wharfedale), former co chair of the Bradford Strategic Disability Partnership, said: “I urge the Council to be more pro-active. If we have to prosecute one or two people to make an example, so be it.”

The committee voted that “further proactive enforcement of the Authority’s ‘A’ Board ban be encouraged.”