Traders ordered to clear street signs

Furious traders in Cromer have a week to clear goods and signs from outside their shops or face legal action by the county council.At a heated public meeting yesterday officers from the council's highways department said that there was no room for negotiation or deals and the shopping streets of the seaside town must be clear by next Wednesday.

Furious traders in Cromer have a week to clear goods and signs from outside their shops or face legal action by the county council.

At a heated public meeting yesterday officers from the council's highways department said that there was no room for negotiation or deals and the shopping streets of the seaside town must be clear by next Wednesday.

If shop owners do not comply then warning letters will be sent out and legal action could commence within a month. The offending articles will also be confiscated.

Traders have warned that the clearance could leave Cromer looking like a “ghost town” and kill off much of the vital summer season tourist trade.

Norfolk County Council's area highways manager, Nick Tupper, said the action was being taken under the Highways Act after one complaint by a member of the public.

He said: “The Highways Act seeks to make things safe for all users not just the roads but the pavements as well.

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“All unauthorised signs on the highway should be removed as soon as possible.”

Highways manager Matt Worden said that in Cromer the area defined as the highway stretches right to shop fronts in most cases and even if a shopkeeper owns the land it could still be covered by act. He added that the act left no room for dispute.

Traders say the action will have a serious impact on businesses.

Sam Grout, who owns The Old Rock Shop Bistro said: “This is going to turn Cromer into a ghost town in the summer.

“If people come and the streets are empty it is going to drive people away.

“People take pride in the front of their shops and now that will be taken way.”

Norfolk County Council says that if people want to continue to have signs and goods outside their shop then they can apply for planning permission from the district council, who considers applications on a case by case basis, but traders argue this is extremely expensive.

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