‘Hasty’ decision is harmful to trade

Roy Whitworth ENGANL00120121017115151
Roy Whitworth ENGANL00120121017115151

Lavenham retailers were shocked to receive an official letter from Babergh District Council last week, informing them that they faced prosecution if they failed to remove ‘A’ boards from their pavements.

An inspection followed, with four ‘unauthorised advertisements’ not removed.

Lavenham Parish Council says it is working hard to resolve the issue.

Roy Whitworth, vice chairman of the parish council, said: “The whole thing appears to have been sparked by a complaint to Babergh.

“An officer within the enforcement team decided to act in what appears to me to be a rather hasty manner and decided to ban all ‘A’ boards from the village unless they have planning permission.

“Of course none of these has the necessary permission, having been part of the retail street scene for many years.

“I accept Babergh are within their rights to apply the letter of the law, but it has to be remembered Lavenham is one of the most successful retail environments in the district.

“The notions of tact, diplomacy, discretion and common sense seem to have escaped our district council officers.”

“It is hard enough making a living as a small retailer. The fact we are relatively successful should be celebrated rather than trampled on by over-zealous officials.”

The parish council has now received a county council protocol that applies to ‘A’ boards in Sudbury.

A spokesman for the district council said: “Babergh recognises that in order for businesses to thrive and grow they need to promote and advertise themselves.

“Having received a complaint from a local retailer about the growing and unlawful use of these boards in Lavenham, it was felt necessary to write to the businesses concerned asking them to remove the boards and seek appropriate consents.

“We are mindful that it is necessary to strike a balance between allowing businesses to advertise, while protecting the street environment.

“We are keen to work with the parish council and would support a protocol on the use of A boards agreed by themselves, local retailers and Suffolk County Council.”