The Leader of Cannock Chase Council, Councillor George Adamson, has made a full public response to a petition submitted by Amanda Milling MP requesting the abolition of charges for street furniture such as A boards and tables / chairs, which are seen by some as a direct tax on businesses.
In his response, Councillor Adamson explains that the policy was not a whim and involved public consultation in February and March 2017 with 100 different organisations. This included the local Chamber of Commerce and all three traders associations in the District. Each business in Cannock, Rugeley and Hednesford town centres also received a letter on the policy. There were 23 responses to the consultation.
The rationale for the policy is that in recent years the use of public highways for commercial advertising and sometimes street cafes has been growing, creating multiple obstacles in some parts of town centres. The Council has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to take reasonable measures to allow disabled people not to be disadvantaged by physical features.
This is also consistent with the Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy which stresses the need to provide equal access for disabled people.
The charge applied to businesses for a properly licensed A board is £85 for three years or 54 pence per week. A single table with four chairs can be displayed on publicly owned land, where lawful, for £85 per year or £1.64 per week.
The charge is so that the Council can cover its own costs of regulating street furniture in the town centres. As businesses benefit from promotion at their business, or use a public highway, it is considered reasonable that businesses pick up the modest charge rather than council tax payers.
An example is given at another council in Staffordshire where the charges are more than double those of Cannock Chase Council for an A board.
The letter concludes that the policy is to be reviewed but that it remains in force until such time as there are any decisions made to change it.
Letter from Councillor Adamson to Amanda Milling MP
RNIB briefing sent to local authorities
Guidance Note for Applicants for A Boards Tamworth