Council blamed for caf�’s slump

A WESTON restaurateur says he has considered closing his business for good after profits plummeted following the council’s decision to remove advertising boards from outside.

Last month Steve Williams, owner of Grove Bistro, questioned North Somerset Council’s decision to confiscate A-boards from in front of Weston shops and caf�s, partly on the grounds of safety.

Mr Williams said: “I know it is January and February time but it has been one of the quietest weeks we have had since we opened.

“The other day we had three customers. I’m not being funny but I can’t survive on that.”

In December the council told business owners they would only be allowed to have one A-board out on streets to help create ‘cleaner and safer communities’.

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And as it enforced the regulation, council officials took the boards away without telling him, leaving him to think they had been stolen. The authority then demanded a �50 payment to return them.

But Mr Williams said the policy has not been carried out universally and his West Street business is suffering as a result.

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He said: “Having one board outside looks like I couldn’t really be bothered when some have three, four or even five. All I want is a level playing field.

“If I didn’t have the lease I would close it because I could now get more money working as a chef.

“This decision is costing my business, there’s no getting away from it. I’m trying to do something good in an area that hasn’t got much good going on at the moment.

“We have a lot of empty shops and if I closed it would have another one. The unit next to me has been empty for more than 12 months.”

Regular attempts to talk to the council have failed to achieve anything, he claimed.

He said: “My biggest form of advertising is the front of my property. We are struggling at the moment and the council is not helping.

“They should be helping businesses, not trying to grind them into the ground.”

A council spokesman said: “Businesses in Weston were sent letters in December reminding them of the policy and the Grove Bistro had a letter hand delivered together with a copy of the policy on December 6 and the policy was explained to them.

“An A-board was seized from outside the Grove Bistro as it was obstructing the pavement. A total of 22 boards have been seized from outside businesses premises around the town centre.”

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