Council's duty to help, not hinder

THE story last week (page 3) regarding the victimisation of town centre traders tells an interesting story. It is quite alarming to read

THE story last week (page 3) regarding the victimisation of town centre traders tells an interesting story. It is quite alarming to read the apparent comments of Councillor Ap Rees. It concerns me that maybe he has not seen the letter that traders received. To paraphrase, it said "we don't have a policy but anyway remove all the products and A-boards or we will fine you £50 to get them back." It is disappointing to see the 'party of business' supporting that attitude.The products for sale, A-boards and tables out on Big Lamp Corner for example add to the ambience and vibrancy of the area. Why are council officers trying to destroy that?Your story quotes Cllr Ap Rees saying that we have been asked nicely. I can tell you that prior to the letter there had been no contact, until last Friday, when three people turned up, flashed council badges with no titles on them and gave me 10 minutes to remove my A-boards or they would take them and demand a £50 ransom to get them back.The reality is we/they need a policy first, then implementation, then action, not the reverse. Let's see a task force, or should that be a 'special projects' team, set up to look at the problem (if that is what it is) with retailers included, so a consensus can be achieved.Here are a few suggestions for that discussion. Where space allows a tidy display of stock can be allowed up to 1.5 metres from the shop premises. A maximum of two A-boards to be allowed either abutting the shop or two metres away where space allows. A-boards to be of a common type, high quality and printed/signwritten, with no freehand scrawl. Council sponsored display signs (as seen on retail parks) could be provided at the ends of the High Street to allow Orchard Meadows' traders and Boulevard traders to take space on them to advertise their business and location, so removing the need for A-boards away from their premises. I could go on. Others will have different ideas.Weston needs, indeed deserves, a vibrant and diverse retail offering. This council has a duty to help, not hinder. STEVE BERRY - Independent retailer, Silica Creperie, Big Lamp Corner and Berrys News & Food,Weston


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