Companies lose trade after council clampdown

By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 21 February 2013 Updated: 22/02 10:04

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Buy photos » MP Karen Lumley joins business owners Alex Faulkner and Emma Sutor on Unicorn Hill. Picture by Marcus Mingins 0813020MMR.

AN ANGRY businesswoman has hit out at a council clampdown which has seen her lose most of her passing trade.

The Standard reported last month traders on Unicorn Hill had been told they risked a £2,500 fine if they continued putting advertising boards out on the pavement following a complaint to the borough council.

Now Vintage Loves owner Emma Sutor, who told the Standard she had seen a significant drop in new shoppers since the ruling, has asked Redditch MP Karen Lumley to step in and help.

She said: "I used to get many people coming in telling me they had seen the sign outside but hadn't previously known I was here, now that has completely dropped off. Businesses on the road struggle anyway as the whole area is in need of a revamp but now the boards aren't out it looks like all the shops are closed so fewer people are coming down to have a look.

"The whole thing has been a complete mess as there are still traders at the top of the hill being allowed to put out their boards. Everyone is very angry the council is not doing more to encourage us as independent traders."

Mrs Lumley said businesses should be encouraged to prosper in the current difficult trading conditions.

"I am disappointed the council is being inconsistent in its approach to various shops and I have noticed myself boards still up around the town centre," she said.

"I think we need to be a little more relaxed about it and find some innovative methods to encourage Unicorn Hill to be a thriving part of the town centre. I will be writing to the chief executive to ask him to revisit the issue."

Coun Rebecca Blake, responsible for community safety on the council, said she had listened to the problems the decision had caused businesses and asked officers to find a solution 'fair and proportionate to both the businesses involved and to the complainant'.

"The footpath is owned by Worcestershire County Council and so I hope Redditch and Worcestershire can work together to get the right result," she said.

"At a national level planning laws could be changed to make advertising easier for small business and more crucially the government should scrap their VAT increase, which is hurting retail business especially."

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