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Town centre streets to become clutter-free zone thanks to new license scheme

Released: Friday, 25 August 2017

A prime pedestrianised shopping street will soon become a “clutter-free zone” under new plans from Worthing Borough Council.

The local authority has received a number of complaints from shoppers and wheelchair users that they are unable to get from A to B due to the amount of street furniture in the town centre.

In order to maintain access for all, local businesses will now be asked to apply for a licence to place items like A-Boards and outdoor seating in the public highway.

The first area to be monitored will be Worthing's Warwick Street. If the pilot scheme is a success, it could gradually rolled out into other areas in the town.

Diane Guest, Worthing Borough Council's executive member for environment, said:

“I know as a local business owner how important items like A-Boards and outdoor eating areas play in boosting trade but also improving the vibrancy of our town centre.”

“However, this cannot be done without thought to the very people that use the shops.”

“Cluttered streets can cause a range of problems, especially to those with pushchairs, the visually impaired and those with limited mobility. At best, too much street furniture can be an inconvenience; at worst, it can be perilous, acting as trip hazards and blocking people's views of oncoming traffic.”

“This self-funding licence scheme will ensure a healthy balance between creating a vibrant town centre and ensuring accessibility for everyone.”

The powers to license street furniture used to belong to West Sussex County Council. But the scheme was not widely promoted or enforced, meaning just two firms in Worthing paid for permission to place items on the highway.

Worthing Borough Council took on the powers earlier this year - and have pledged to work with businesses to ensure that the scheme is priced and enforced fairly.

The license scheme will come into force in Warwick Street from 1st September 2017.

Costs for the first year for an advertising board will start from £106.50 - or just over £2 a week - with the fee dropping to just £80.50 in the second. Prices for tables and chairs are more expensive and calculated on the area used.

Teams from the council have contacted every business in the street to make sure they are aware of the changes and offered to meet with them to talk through the scheme.

Regular compliance checks will be carried out and businesses that fail to pay for a licence could be fined up to £1,000.

The scheme is entirely self-funding with all of the monies raised covering the administration costs.

The move has received the backing from key charities.

Terri Dowty, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer, said:

“We congratulate Worthing Borough Council on this initiative.”

“Street furniture presents blind and partially sighted pedestrians with problems that are not always apparent to other people, and these can turn pavements into an obstacle course.”

“We commend the council's determined commitment to ensuring an accessible environment for all.”

Photo: Warwick Street in Worthing

PR17-122 - Warwick Street, Worthing


FAQS for businesses on the new scheme

What happens if I do not pay for a licence?

The council will be carrying out regular compliance checks to ensure businesses adhere to the guidelines. The council reserves the right to take enforcement action with fines of up to £1,000 imposed.

How much is a licence?

A licence for just A-Boards will be £106.50 in the first year. It has to be renewed annually with the current renewal rate £80.50 per year. The fee structure for tables and chairs is calculated on the metres squared used. All licence fees will be reviewed at the end of the pilot and annually thereafter.

Why are you charging for the licence?

The council is charging for the licence to cover the administration of bringing in the licensing system and cover the on-going monitoring and enforcement to ensure these areas remain suitable for all those who use them.

My business is not on the ground floor. Can I have an A-Board?

A-Board licences will only be granted for ground floor premises with shop frontages. It is unlikely we will licence A-Boards without an accessible pavement width of at least 2 metres. For more details contact the council's Regeneration Team.

My business is down a side street. I need an A-Board so people know where to find me.

A-Boards will not be licensed if they are located some distance away from the premises. If you are unsure, please contact the council's Regeneration Team on 01273 263463 for further advice.

(PR17-122)

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