Licensing pilot to take control of street clutter

A-BOARDS, tables and chairs are set to be licensed in pilot schemes to de-clutter town centres following complaints from shoppers.

A-boards blocking Montague Street, captured by county councillor Michael Cloake last year

Lack of regulation and enforcement because of scarce county council resources has led Worthing Borough Council to consider taking responsibility for the issue in Worthing and Shoreham town centres.

The growing number of unregulated A-boards and cafés using street space for tables and chairs has caused obstructions, making it difficult for shoppers to navigate town centres.

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But some business owners believe the proposals are unreasonable.

“There are times when you just see a situation where you have to step in and act as an arbitrator for the greater good,” said Worthing Borough Council leader Dan Humphreys at the joint strategic committee meeting on Thursday.

He added: “Regulation is not something that we instinctively grasp for but I think there is cause for it here.”

Adur District Council cabinet member for environment Keith Dollemore also welcomed the introduction of the pilot schemes – which will need approval of full councils.

He said: “This certainly seems to be a sensible way of bringing it all into one place where we have local control, rather than something remote.”

West Sussex County Council currently charge a one-off fee of £412 for a table and chairs licence, with yearly costs of £220. Investigations found just one business in Warwick Street had applied and paid for such a licence.

Charges for the new licences have not been set but initial indications have floated the idea of £200 for A-boards and £50 per square metre for tables and chairs.

Paul O’Brien, owner of Candy Love, in Bath Place, Worthing, said he would not pay to have an A-board if the pilot scheme was rolled out across the town centre.

He said: “I would rather lose ten A-boards a year than pay that amount. Just as the council is forging closer links with small business they will ruin that all if they go ahead with this plan.”

Plans to licence A-boards were first revealed in the Herald in August and gained the support of resident William Jordon-White, 70, who broke his shoulder after tripping over a fallen A-board at night last year.

Businesses would require compulsory public liability insurance in the event of similar accidents.