Council criticised after dodging A-boards ban


Disabled campaigners have criticised a council’s refusal to ban all advertising boards from blocking its city’s pavements.

City of York Council’s cabinet decided this week to introduce only a partial ban on so-called A-boards – free-standing, A-shaped boards used to advertise goods and services – even though campaigners had warned councillors that they obstructed many disabled people and were a “barrier for participation in public life”.

York Independent Living Network (YILN), York Blind and Partially Sighted Society and RNIB all back a total ban, similar to the one introduced by Hackney council, in London.

In a briefing note for councillors, YILN argued that banning the use of A-boards would give disabled people, particularly those with visual impairments, the confidence to move around the city freely.

But YILN said that introducing only a partial ban would increase anxiety and could keep people away from shopping areas, while it would reward traders for “bad behaviour”, rather than supporting those who followed best practice and refused to use A-boards.

One council manager had previously argued that while a total ban “would benefit the appearance of the city and the safety of the partially-sighted, there would likely to be an adverse consequence to the small business community”.

A group of councillors who subsequently carried out a review, recommended allowing the use of A-boards under “strict criteria”, but banning them from streets with narrow pavements.

That report acknowledged that it was “essential for all people including those in wheelchairs or with pushchairs, and the blind and partially sighted to have a clear route along a pavement”.

It added: “Without this, many people will walk into A-boards and injure themselves, or inadvertently walk into the road whilst attempting to avoid an A-board.”

But the council’s cabinet agreed this week to commission new guidelines on the use of A-boards across the city, including a ban on their use in areas with narrow pavements, but rejected calls for a total ban.

A council spokeswoman said the decision not to go ahead with a total ban had been taken “due to the difficulties in enforcing previously agreed guidelines”.

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